DC Counterclockwise – Sounds Like a Plan

Flor wanted to go for a ride today. The last time we rode was on a Sunday and she was obviously tired from working a double shift the day before. I expected that she might cancel today, but wanted to leave open the possibility of riding with her.

I concocted a plan. Since she lives in the middle of DC so I decided to ride around DC and wait until I heard from her.

Little Nellie, my Bike Friday, and I headed out for Old Town Alexandria at 9:30. I took the long way hoping to see some bald eagles at the Morningside nest. No luck today. When I reached the Woodrow Wilson Bridge I stopped to check my messages. Nothing. So I rode across the bridge and up the long hill to Oxon Hill Road. This hills seems like it lasts forever but that has more to do with the fact that there is little to look at but a gigantic dirt lot which will one day be a casino. (Oh, joy.)

At the top of the hill I checked my messages again. Nothing. I headed northeast into Oxon Hill Farm Park. After accidentally touring the park (the sign for the bike path is messed up), I headed down the windy hill to Oxon Cove along the Potomac River. I am glad I didn’t have to ride up this beast. It’s steep and long and the asphalt is a mess.

Once at the bottom of th hill, I followed a trail to the Blue Plains section of DC. Then I took some flat roads along scenic I-295. (That’s sarcasm.) The good folks in the military bar entrance to their riverside fortress. (Fun Fact: The Spirit of St. Louis was shipped here after Lindberg’s crossing.) I had to turn up steep Cheasapeake Street and ride through Anacostia. It being Sunday morning I was expecting to find  church-going folks walking to or from services. The streets were all but empty. They must have been home watching the World Cup or actually inside a place of worship praising the lord.

I left the urban scene and rode through Anacostia River Park, This was once all but abandoned but has now been discovered by people from both sides of the Anacostia River. The park ends at Benning Road so I crossed back over to the west bank and rode through the Kingman Park area. I rode a crooked line until finding G Street. This took me all the way to the railroad corridor that feeds Union Station. I banged a right and managed to stumble onto the Metropolitan Branch Trail. I stopped and checked for a Flor-a-gram but nada.

So I rode the MBT for a while. A long while. Then I ran out of MBT at Fort Totten. I checked my Florometer. A message. No go. Too tired. Sad face. I was going to pout but there were miles to go before I tweet. Or something Robert Frost might have said if he had only 140 characters to play with.

Northward onto streets unknown. I found Blair Road and decided that it sounded loverly. On I rode. Soon I was in Tacoma Park. Traffic was dreadfully slow so I zigged and zagged until I found Georgia Avenue. This was part of the 50 States route so I knew where I was. That was the good part. The bad part was that it was a high-ish speed road filled with Maryland drivers of dubious skill.

Georgia led me into Silver Spring, a town with a wannabe downtown. The roads are all torn up and the street grid is confusing. It’s a bit like Oakland without the class. (That’s a joke, son.)

After much searching I found some wayfaring signs and, after a couple of GPS checks, made my way to the Georgetown Branch Trail. The surface of the trail from Silver Spring to Rock Creek Park is a mess. I was all over the place trying to avoid gravel and irregularities that would have knocked me over. The Rock Creek trestle was a great relief. I stopped and took a selfie, because that’s what you do these days. This may be the only picture of me without glasses since i was 4.


By this point I was starving. So I took the trail to Bethesda and ate two massive slices of pizza from Bethesda Bagels. (I plan on ordering bagels from Papa Johns tonight to restore the balance of the culinary universe.)

While eating I checked my twitter feed and found out that Kristen, another riding buddy and Friday Coffee Club regular – was having a picnic with her family at the Potomac River waterfront near Georgetown. They were leaving to head back home up the Capital Crescent Trail. I let her know that I was headed her way from the other end of the trail. She tweeted that I should look for her at Fletcher’s Boat House where they would be taking a rest stop.

The trail was busy as it always is on a Sunday. People were somehow being considerate and not being jerks. Father’s Day mojo no doubt.

It’s pretty much a gradual downhill road the entire way to Fletcher’s. I spotted Kristen sitting at a picnic table with her two grade-school aged daughters. Her younger daughter had taken her very first ride without training wheels yesterday so congratulations were in order. Her older daughter had recovered from losing her voice yesterday. So it was awesome sauce all around. Kristen’s husband appeared from out of the shadows. He was epo-ing so that he could pull the trail-a-bike with younger daughter aboard. (He denies this but I watched him push his bike back up a short rise to the trail as I left. Definitely, a PED man. Or it could be that he’d gotten into the massive bag-o-snacks that Kristen had in her pannier.)

After a 15 minute chat, we went our separate ways. It was nice to get a social fix. And to see some kids on Father’s Day. (My two are 19 and 21, kids no more.)

I somehow made it to the end of the trail, passed the Georgetown waterfront and rolled through hundreds of Dragon boat race participants milling about the side of the trail without saying a single cuss word.

My route took me pass the historic national beach volleyball fields, some odd looking white building with a guy in a huge chair, and the national cricket pitch.


Across the river and into the circus that is the Mount Vernon Trail on a weekend. Other than a few MAMILs (middle aged men in lycra) behaving badly, I had no troubles.

After arriving home, I checked my Twitter feed. It turns out that I nearly intersected with five other #bikedc friends. Maybe I didn’t need a plan after all.

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