Back in the 1960s, neighborhoods were swarming with kids. My house alone had seven of them. And every summer night there were a couple of dozen kids playing one game or another in front of our house. Most nights it was monster ball (that’s baseball played with a ball the size of a basketball) or giants and pygmies (a hide-and-seek kind of game). Every Thursday night my parents would go out to dinner. On one summer Thursday night, we decided to take our bikes down to the bishop’s house. The bishop had a huge mansion and in front of it was a circular driveway. This particular summer night we rode our bikes around the bishop’s driveway until we were exhausted. We had a blast.
Fast forward nearly 40 years.
Megan works at the Washington Area Bicyclists Association. As it turns out, the large majority of cyclists are of the male persuasion. Megan’s job is to encourage, cajole, and enlighten women of the DC area to get on a bike. It’s also never a bad idea to raise funds for her cause.
One day, Megan got an idea.
Hains Point is a part of East Potomac Park where cyclists go to ride. It sticks out into the Potomac River. It is flat. It has a three-mile road that forms a nice loop.
Megan decided that she would ride 100 miles on the Hains Point loop on December 23 as a way to get women on their bikes. She invited others to join her.
Kate rides a bike She blogs, too. She decided to ride Megan’s ride. She asked for people to make a donation to WABA on her behalf. I am a sucker for a gimmick. I made a donation, and today, I rode up to DC to watch the ride and cheer Kate on.
It was 29 degrees when I left the house. There was ice in Dyke Marsh on the Potomac River. I continued on to the city.
It warmed up nicely. Mark Blacknell, chairman of WABA’s board, convinced me to ride a few laps in solidarity. So I accompanied Kathy Lewis (the queen of the Bike Arlington happy hour) for a couple of laps. Then, I did a lap with Alex Baca, WABA’s new communications director, on her spiffy new bike.
But mostly I hung out in the pit area and talked to people. There was a good turnout from the Friday Coffee Club. In addition to Mark, Kathy, and Kate, there was Brian, John, Shawn (and his daughter Myrna on a trail a bike), Dave, Chris, Aaron, and Crystal (and her parents). (I am probably leaving people out. My bad.)
Megan came in to take a break and get interviewed on WTOP by Kate Ryan. I congratulated her on her brilliant idea. She raised over $1,000 which isn’t bad at all for a ride with minimal promotion.
After the interview I introduced myself to Kate (Ryan, that is). Kate reports on (among other things) bike and pedestrian issues. Despite not knowing me from Adam, she was very supportive when my wife was run over by an SUV a couple of years ago.
I was tempted to join .the ride for a few more laps, but decided to head home. Despite having the least daylight of any week of the year, I knocked out over 180 miles since Monday. I think I got my money’s worth out of this week.
When I got home, I learned that Megan completed 102 miles. And Kate rode 50 (as planned) on Betty, her cruiser bike (not as planned). Congrats to you both.
For those of you interested in bad event photography, you can find my pix of today’s festivities on my Flickr page.
Correction: I got my Megan’s confused. There are two Megan’s who work for WABA. Neither of them is Megan Jones, the heroine of this saga. Megan Jones, like me, is a WABA member. Megan Jones has a thing for riding in circles ad nauseum, whereas I ride back and forth to the office ad nauseum. And Megan Jones is great with a gimmick. Me, not so much.
The WABA outreach director who is responsible for its Woman and Bikes program is Nellie Pierson, who was at attendance spreading the gospel of women on bikes. Nellie’s previous claim to fame was that she was the WABA Events coordinator. In the early, 2000’s WABA events were plagued by a series of hurricanes, insufferable heat and humidity, and other disasters. Nellie single handledly reversed the WABA events curse.