It began with an alarm clock awakening me at 5:45 a.m. This is indeed an ungodly hour for a Sunday morning. It was raining house pets outside so it looked a bit like the Hoppy 100, a bike ride to sample local craft brewers, would be a very, very wet affair. By the time I headed out the door some 40 minutes later, however, the downpour had given way to an intermittent drizzle. I abandoned the thought of driving to DC, hopped on The Mule and headed north.
The ride in went by pretty quickly, which is not surprising considering the fact that the streets and trails were empty. Just me and a whole bunch of puddles. I rode across the Memorial Bridge and around the Lincoln Memorial. Then it was up through the GWU campus to the rendezvous point at the Brewmasters Castle, a gorgeous old brownstone mansion built by a nineteenth century sudsmeister.
John Roche, the mastermind behind this ride, was handing out Dunkin Muchkins to the riders as they assembled. Proper nutrition is required on long bike rides, you know. The rest of the crew:
- Alex, communications professional, grad student, fresh from a 100 mile ride on a flat tire last weekend.
- Chris: Alex’s boyfriend, a volunteer at The Bike House, a bicycle repair cooperative in DC
- Peter: another Bike Houser guy and Kristen’s personal bike mechanic
- Kristen: uber Mom, world traveler, and Friday Coffee Club regular
- Lisa: librarian, musician, grad student, my frequent riding buddy, and Friday Coffee Clubber
- Dave: who commutes with his daughter on the mean streets of DC and sticks his tongue out at bicyclist oppressors
- Jason: a resident of Del Ray riding a bike with big fat tires
- Brian: clown bike rider and noted Hungarian toaster
We headed out in a light rain, destined for an early morning glimpse at a couple of new-ish craft brewers. Within a mile , Dave was kind enough to demonstrate a roadside flat tire repair complete with $1 bill tire boot. Remarkably, he omitted the part where you swear profusely when the puncture occurs.
After the repair, we headed to Northeast DC to a brewer on West Virginia Avenue. We rode right past the nondescript industrial building. The brewery was so new, it did not yet have a sign. They should call this company Stealthy Beer.
We doubled back and headed south, stopping to admire Bardo, another craft beer operation on Bladensburg Road. This operation appeared to be entirely outdoors and resembled a nuclear waste storage facility with metal barrels arranged along the fence. It was hard to tell since the chain link fence around the place was locked.
On we rode to the Anacostia River Trail. There was no brewing here but the riding was pretty sweet along the banks of DC’s other river. We rode north then crossed over on the Benning Road bridge to the eastern bank of the river and headed south. At the Frederick Douglas Bridge, we took a side path back over the river. We were slowed when John stopped to help a cyclist in distress on the bridge. The cyclist had crashed on the metal grate that constitutes the roadway (the side path had a concrete surface). He was stunned and a bloody mess having smashed on of his hand on the grate. He managed to get off the road and onto the side path with us. We walked our bikes past him, offered help which he refused, and took our time getting to the western bank of the river near Nationals Park.
We stopped to reconnoiter and Bike Crash Victim came walking behind us looking very much not okay. After some gentle persuading he sat down. Kristen said he was in shock at which point Chris took over and called 911. BCV sat down and Chris kept him talking. Lisa donated a hankerchief to cover his now disgusting bloody hand. Dave checked his helmet for signs of impact. He stretched out on the sidewalk and waited. A few minutes later an ambulance arrived. They put him on a stretcher and told us to take his bike to a police station a few blocks away.
Chris rode his own bike while holding BCV’s bike alongside and we made our way to the station. In the process we skipped brewery number 3 (which was not open anyway). We hoped that we could drop off the bike and be on our way but what followed was a Pythonesque farce of bureaucracy:
Station Desk Officer: Don’t bring that bike in here.
Chris: We’re dropping it off. The rider was involved in a crash and taken to the hospital.
SDO: How do I know that it isn’t stolen?
Yep, apparently robbers bring their loot to the M Street police station for safe keeping. I am a little surprised the SDO didn’t try to sell us a license for our pet fish, Eric. Well, after 45 minutes we left after we convinced the police to take the bike. While we were waiting Peter did a squealectomy on Kristen’s brakes.
Having spent so much time with the constabulary, we decided to chop a few miles off the ride and head straight to Mad Fox brewery in Falls Church. We crossed the river and headed for the Custis Trail in Rosslyn. Kristen, as she had planned, peeled off to head for home across the Key Bridge. The rest of us continued up and down and up and down along the Custis. We picked up the Washington and Old Dominion Trail and were at Mad Fox in no time. While there, Brian appeared with his Brompton to join the festivities.
The beer was pretty good (I had a Kolsch) but the coffee was what most of us really craved. I drank four cups. We ate a leisurely lunch and watched as the rain finally stopped. Somewhat drier we headed back to the W&OD and our next destination Port City Brewery in Alexandria.
The W&OD is gradually downhill all the way and we welcomed the easy riding. Brian gave chase to a passing roadie with delusions of speed. Seeing Brian spin his ass off on his Brompton, catch the guy and hang on his rear wheel made for some greatly appreciated comedy on a gray day. After crossing into Alexandria, we slogged up a long hill. Three riders broke away and the rest of us stopped to check our cue sheets. A half block up a side street, a party seemed to be starting. We could see an American flag and some bikes as well as hear some cheering. We rode up to see what the commotion was about. A father and son had just arrived from riding their bikes across the country from San Francisco. What a joyous loving welcome they received. The Hoppy 100 salutes you!
We regrouped with the breakaway and followed John’s cue sheet which led us onto an unpaved trail through a stretch of woods. Jason finally got to take advantage of his ginormous wide tires. The rest of us made do and stayed upright. The trail dropped us off in familiar territory and we managed to traverse pavement the rest of the way to Port City Brewery.
Port City was pretty crowded. I was thirsty so I had a Derecho (a little thick for my taste) and an IPA (perfection in a glass). After an hour of beer tasting, we headed back out outside. The rain had stopped. We took the nearby Taylor Run Trail to Eisenhower Avenue to Old Town. I peeled off in Old Town and headed for home. I arrived about 11 hours and 65 miles after I had left. Tired and feeling old, I sat down with my family and had dinner with chocolate birthday cake and ice cream.
A fitting end to a long, wet, hoppy 58th birthday.
My pix of the ride can be found on my Flickr page. Lisa’s account of the day is on her blog.