Sunday in the Park with Flor

Last Sunday I rode to Meridian HIll Park to hang out with my friend Florencia. Flor and I met on the Fifty States Ride on a day that was epically hot and humid. She rode like she had a tailwind the entire way. She was particularly strong on hills and I had absolutely no hope of keeping up with her.

These days, Flor spends much more time working than riding. So last Sunday she asked me to go for a not-too-hard ride to get her biking legs back. BIke ride? Moi?

We planned to meet up at noon. I decided that the least difficult route with the fewest hills and stop lights and cars would be a ride up Rock Creek Park as far as she felt comfortable. I knew from riding this route last week that it was about 15 miles from Garrett Park, Maryland to Flor’s neghborhood so I thought 30 flat-ish miles would be the maximum distance she would want to do.

The trip also allowed me to check out Big Nellie’s new headset. (This is the mechanism that connects the handlebars and stem to the fork. Without a functioning headset a bicycle can’t function. Long story short, the steering felt a little loose at first but I soon adapted to it and had no troubles with it. Thanks to Carl, the mechanic at Spokes Etc, in Belle View Shopping Center for the repair.)

After a stop to buy sunscreen I rode north on the Mount Vernon Trail. As I expected on a perfect weather Sunday, the trail was packed, With some patience I made it into the city without hitting anyone or cussing anyone out. I took the 15th Street cycletrack north past Meridian Hill Park and found Flor’s place after only one wrong turn. Along the way I was twice quizzed about my bike by passers by.

“Is it more comfortable?”

“Did you make it?”

“Does it help your back?”

“Can I buy one online?”

(Answers: Yes, No. Yes. Yes.)

After a brief wait, Flor appeared. She seemed like she was lacking her usual spark. You would be too if you worked on your feet yesterday from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m.  We decided to ride to the Rock Creek trestle and re-asses my route plans depending on how Flor felt.

Flor led us through a traffic mess at the Zoo. Then we rode on the pitiful Rock Creek trail until we passed Pierce Mill. We then picked up Beach Drive which was closed to car traffic intermittently for the next several miles. The water washed over rocks in the creek. The breeze made a rustling sound in the green, green canopy of leaves above us. Through the canopy above we could see a beautiful blue, blue sky with puffy clouds floating this way and that. Flor and I pedaled the curving road at 12 to 14 miles per hour chatting the whole way through the park. I defy you to find better biking conditions than this.

We stopped at the trestle for a couple of pictures. Flor gave the green light for some more miles and we headed north to Garrett Park. Once in Maryland the traffic restrictions no longer apply. We dealt with quite a bit more cars than I did last week. Flor rides in the city everyday so she didn’t care.

Flor on the Trestle
Flor on the Trestle

I mentioned a nice little restaurant in Garrett Park in case Flor wanted to stop for a bite to eat but she seemed uninterested. Once we reached Garrett Park Road we turned around and headed back south. I had misplaced my camera prior to the ride. Normally, I take shots of the people I ride with while I am riding. I decided to try taking pictures on the fly with my new iPhone instead. It was impossible to tell if I actually had Flor in the frame so I took a four. They all came out fine. Credit to the subject.

Flor Miraculously  Managed to Stay in Frame.
Flor Miraculously Managed to Stay in Frame.

A deer appeared at the side of the road. Another one five miles farther along. We talked on and off. During the “on” we discussed everything under the sun (computer dating, job searching, living near the zoo, Rolfing, life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness) except cycling. During the “off” we were lost in the stupefying beauty of the park.

We climbed Park Road to get back to Flor’s place. Flor’s legs were pretty tired but she looked pretty happy. I think the ride did her good. I hope she can walk tomorrow.

My ride home involved bombing down 18th Street. It was a bit like a Giant Slalom event. Cars, buses, pedestrians, cyclists all seem to appear out of nowhere. I switched over to 16th Street which ends at Lafayette Park across from the White House. Tourists milled about. I rode straight through a bunch of participants in the Post Hunt, an annual scavenger hunt put on by the Washington Post. I am pretty sure the answer to one of the hunt’s questions was not “Old dude on a recumbent.”

I took the cycle track on 15th Street. It was video game. Pedestrians popped off the sidewalk into my path over and over. Two Mennonite women stood in the track. One spotted me and shoved the other one to the sidewalk. Clearly, she will get bonus points on the day of reckoning when she goes to that great cycletrack in the sky. At Constitution Avenue, an airport shuttle van nearly took me out as its driver rushed to make a left turn across my path. Lucky for the driver I left my bicycle death ray at home.

The Mount Vernon Trail was still packed. It didn’t slow me down. My legs were pretty tired. I hadn’t eated anything in seven hours and I could feel a bonk coming on.

Never let ’em see you bonk.

I didn’t.

Thanks to Flor for another excellent ride. (We’ve never had a bad one.) We have to do some more this summer. 50 States will be here before you know it. (Then she can once again leave me in the dust on Kansas Avenue.)

A few more pix are here.


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