Crashing the White House


Nine hundred and ninety-one days. That’s the number of days it has been since I last crashed which was on July 3, 2013. I broke my collarbone that day.

Today was to be simple. Real simple. We got a call yesterday that a foreign exchange student on her way home to Denver was stuck in New York since Denver got hit with 18″ of snow. Could she come stay with us for a few days? We said yes to picking up Katrin Bunke from Germany and, as a bonus, her friend, Kaede Furusawa from Japan, too.

Katrin on the Mt Vernon Trail

So what to do with two foreign exchange students “stranded” in the DC area? Go for a bike ride, of course. We had the added bonus of 80° (27° C) and the cherry blossoms at their peak. I asked Terry Moran if we could borrow a bike from his wife, Patty. He agreed. They agreed. We met Terry and Patty, picked up the bike then drove to Daingerfield Island for our adventure to see the cherry blossoms.


We left the lot and rode to Gravelly Point, stopping to watch the airplanes fly over us, landing just a few hundred meters away. We made our way across the 14th Street Bridge and stopped at the Jefferson Memorial. As I was coming to a stop I saw Kaede stop and was talking to some students. These were her friends from the YFU trip in New York. They had added a Washington, D.C option to their trip but as it turned out, Katrin and Kaede got it for free.

Cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin

We rode up to the Lincoln Memorial where Patty and the girls walked up inside the memorial while Terry and I waited with the bikes. We then directed the girls to the Vietnam Memorial where they walked down and visited. We stopped briefly at the World War II Memorial then made our way over to the White House.

Katrin and Kaede
Katrin and Kaede

We circled the Ellipse and as Terry tried to stop for a photo-op he was directed by the Secret Service to keep on moving. So we all did. I came to the transition between street and sidewalk. And lurking there, unbeknownst to me, was a 3/4″ lip that was parallel to the street. As I turned my wheel it did not. I came crashing down on my left side, landing hard on my hip and elbow. Nothing broke but I had road rash mostly on my elbow. But my ego was shattered.

Bike taxi

We went to the north portico of the White House so the girls could get a photo-op, which had been denied them on the south side. We then got on the bike lane on Pennsylvania Avenue and rode over to Ford’s Theater. We were hoping to get them inside but there was an hour wait.

Outside the Lincoln Memorial

Checking the time we decided it was best to call it a day. We headed out, carefully maneuvering through traffic and people to get back over to the 14th Street Bridge where one could ride without the crowds. A 15 mph headwind actually felt pretty good the last four miles back to the car.

For the girls who aren’t used to riding, the sunshine and 25 km (15 mi.) was enough of a ride. For me, it was enough of a ride too. With bruises and road rash, well, let’s just hope it’s another three years before I hit the pavement.*