Something odd is happening. For the last two months, despite riding Big Nellie, my Tour Easy recumbent, almost every day, I haven’t been able to get the bike moving satisfactorily. Every ride has been a frustrating struggle. Yesterday that changed. Riding my recumbent was effortless. After 51 miles I wanted to ride a lot more.
So, today I did. And the riding was even better. With temps in the high 80s, you cannot complain about the weather. It took me a while to get started though. I spent the first half hour of my ride doing maintenance on The Mule, my 20-year-old Specialized Sequoia. I put a 700×35 tire on the front to match the width of my new back tire. Then I took it for a quick test ride. The Mule likes wider tires. No doubt about it. My test ride did surface a problem: really squeaky rear brakes. So I fiddled with them for a few minutes.
Once General Bike Hospital was over with, Big Nellie and I hit the road. We cruised through some neighborhood streets before hooking up with the Mount Vernon Trail near the stone bridge. I had a noticeable tailwind so I knew that the easy of riding was not all my doing.
In about an hour, I pulled into Saint Elmo’s Coffee Pub in Del Ray for my second Coffeeneuring stop. The coffee was much better than yesterday’s and the blueberry and banana muffin was moist and tasty. I brought a book with me so I could linger over my brew.
I was still hungry so I dropped into the Dairy Godmother, an ice cream store two doors down from St. Elmo’s. I had one of their root beer floats. Ahhhh. Perfection!
Now that my diet had been shot to hell, I hit the road in earnest. In about two miles I was heading west on the Four Mile Run trail heading for the W&OD trail. I took that to the Custis trail and headed back toward DC along I 66. Just I was getting my kicks, I turned off the trail and worked my way through hilly North Arlington. My destination was Glebe Road which drops like a ski slope down to the Potomac River. Big Nellie loves street luge. Weeee!!!!
Once down the hill I headed northwest on the C&O Canal towpath. Big Nellie’s long wheel base does a wonderful job of absorbing the bumps which are pretty much continuous. I was bombing along at 15 miles per hour passing mountain bikers who must have been wondering how such a strange bike could handle the rough trail.
At Great Falls Park I turned off the trail and rode up a long, long hill. Unlike my experience at the Backroads Century the hills didn’t much bother me. At the top of the hill I mashed on the pedals. I could hear the rear tire digging into the pavement. Down the other side we went. I love doing downhills on my bent. It would have been epic had a car with a kayak on its roof not pulled out in front of me from a parking lot at the bottom of the luge run.
The ride back along MacArthur Boulevard was into the wind, but I didn’t much notice. I was cruising along at 15 miles per hour – about three miles per hour above my commuting speed – with very little effort. I turned off MacArthur and rode Reservoir Road and some alphabet streets across Georgetown. The streets were rather quiet so I rode down 17th Street straight to the Tidal Basin. I caught a bunch of lights and zipped across the Kutz Bridge, normally a nail biter of ride.
I was across the 14th Street bridge in no time and headed into the wind on the MVT going 17 miles per hour. The sun was setting and it seemed to be doing so rather quickly. I was wearing sunglasses so I knew I’d have to stop soon to switch to my regular glasses. I was having such a blast riding that I didn’t stop until Old Town Alexandria 3 1/2 miles later. There I put my light on my helmet and activated my red blinky lights.
The helmet light did a fine job of illuminating all the bike riders without lights heading my way on the dark section of the MVT south of Old Town. The light also helped give me some early warning about the clouds of gnats hanging intermittently over the trail.
I arrived home in the dark after 64 miles. Unlike yesterday, I actually felt somewhat tired. I definitely could have ridden more though.
I really think it’s unfair for my cycling fitness to peak just as the cold weather comes around. If the furlough continues, maybe I should just ride to Cuba. I’ll bet Raul could use a cycling economist. He might even find me essential.