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Gear Prudence: The bike rack my office provides has shade, but that shade comes at the price of birds using my precious steel steed for target practice. Not a day goes by when my bike isn’t peppered with the telltale signs of our avian friends’ relentless digestion of local woodland berries, and this is taking its toll on the custom powder-coated livery on my dream bike. The other parking options at my office are bad (e.g. the railing on the ADA access ramp, a questionably moored parking sign, or a hapless young tree), so the rack is my best bet. Help! —Getting Upset At Noisome Offenses
Dear GUANO: Well, shit.
But for the shade, you could mount to your handlebars a solar-powered molded owl figurine (with realistic head movements!) to try to keep the birds at bay. Instead, you could cover your bike with a tarp and let the birds have at it, though handling the increasingly besmirched tenting hardly seems like an improvement, to say nothing of where you might store it between commutes. I don’t know—is “Bike Your Cat to Work Day” a thing?
The bigger question is this: If this is your dream bike, why are you leaving it exposed to the elements every day anyway? Either drag it into your office or leave it at home, and commute on a bike better suited to the birds’ evacuation route. —GP
Gear Prudence: There are many of us who have long daily bike commutes that take us outside the bounds of civilization and into far off places like Fairfax or Montgomery County. One unique issue related to these cross-country commuter treks is the occasional need to pee due to excessive coffee intake and/or weak and aging bladders further softened by hours in the saddle. How do you feel about the side-of-the-road nature break? —Plentiful Embarkation Emissions
Dear PEE: Barring an emergency, there is no good reason to avoid indoor plumbing, which remains plentiful, even in the barren suburban wastelands through which you ride. You mentioned your affinity for java, so why not take advantage of a coffee shop on your route to achieve relief and refill your cup?
Do not use the facilities without also being a customer. There’s an implicit quid pro quo and you should show your gratitude with patronage (order a thanks a latte!), especially if the bathroom stops are a frequent habit. Don’t be a drip: Only a doppio would take a leak without buying a scone. It’s not their fault you don’t have a venti bladder. —GP
Gear Prudence is Brian McEntee, who blogs at talesfromthesharrows.blogspot.com and tweets at @sharrowsdc. Got a question about bicycling? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.