The Beat of a Different Drum

Many of my biking friends in DC were headed for the Tour de Fat, a big bike themed party to raise funds for local biking organizations, to have fun, and to promote Fat Tire Beer. Seemed like a good idea to me, but I have been meaning to see my friend Lisa’s taiko drumming group for quite a while. Her group was performing at the Washington Folk Festival at Glen Echo Park at 2. I hoped to get to the Tour de Fat in time to sample some liquid refreshment.

The ride to Glen Echo Park is pretty easy except for a short hill that goes from the C&O Canal up to the Palisades neighborhood of DC.  The ride there was as nice as a ride can be. It was 90 degrees and I had a tailwind. I took a couple of longcuts on the way and arrived with 12 minutes to spare. Even so I missed the very beginning of the drum performance, but it wasn’t at all hard to find; I just followed the thunder!

There were two groups: the newbies who had only been drumming for four weeks and the experienced drummers. Experience brings more complicated rhythms and showmanship. The leader and his wife did a duet of sorts. Dang, they were good. Lisa’s group did three numbers. She really gets into it. She smiles and her arms are flying all over the place. Nice job, Lisa. The best part was when the entire ensemble played together with layers and layers of different rhythms.

Lisa (center) puts a hurt on her drum

I imagine taiko drumming must be good therapy. It’s physical and aggressive. There’s a social aspect to it. There’s even some shouting mixed in with the beats. The audience got into the shouting thing a bit. There was also a point in the show when the drummers came down into the audience to pick people to play a number with the group. I am thankful that Lisa didn’t come and get me!

After chatting with Lisa and her husband Robert, I rode across town to the Tour de Fat. My route took me on K Street in Georgetown. A few blocks of Wisconsin Avenue, one of the main drags in Georgetown, was closed to cars from K to M Street. It looked like a big party. In the new waterfront park between K and the Potomac River people were hanging out enjoying the fountain and the river scenery.

The Tour de Fat was in Yards Park, around the corner from the Washington Nationals baseball stadium. I could tell when I was close to the event when every stationary object I passed had several bikes locked to it. There was also valet parking at the event itself. There must have been hundreds and hundreds of bikes.  I tethered Big Nellie to a lamppost and hoofed a couple of blocks to the entrance. The WABA table was the first thing I saw. Alex and Rachel were there looking incredibly cheerful given the fact that they’d been outside in the heat all day. (One oddity of the day. Despite the fact that I saw hundreds of cyclists, I did not see a single Kate all day.)

The beer line had a sad little sign that said “Last Call 4:30”. Since it was 4:30 and the line was long, I decided to forgo a cold one and walked around the park. Most people were watching a band play. I wouldn’t think that a band led by a woman singing and playing a bass drum and a guy fiddling next to her would appeal to me, but they were very entertaining. I could have sat down and watched the performance but I was wilting in the heat.

I rode home the way I came, down the Mount Vernon Trail. In Old Town Alexandria I rolled past a big party at city hall plaza. The DC are sure was in a festive mood today. South of Old Town, two photographers with very long lenses attached to their cameras were walking toward the Morningside bald eagle nest. I’d have stayed to chat with them but I had my eyes on the prize, air conditioning at home.

51 and a half miles after I started I pulled into my driveway. A Saturday and a rider well spent.

One thought on “The Beat of a Different Drum

  1. “The best part was when the entire ensemble played together with layers and layers of different rhythms.”
    That’s my favorite part, too!

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