Today was the Vasa ride, the first #bikedc event of the year. The Vasa ride is put on by WABA in collaboration with the Swedish embassy. Then idea is to mimic the Vasaloppet, an annual cross country skiing event in Sweden. (I tried telemark style biking but have since reverted to conventional nordic style.)
Last night I traded tweets with fellow Mount Vernon bike commuter Linel. We hadn’t met in real life so it was decided that I would give her a ride to the start. I picked her up in the sea of condos in Belle Haven/View just south of Old Town. The Mule was already on my bike rack. It takes considerable effort to get it there as The Mule is actually a corruption of Molnir, Thor’s hammer, which only Thor can lift. I picked up Linel’s bike, a Trek Madone, and couldn’t believe how light it was. It was like hefting a can of beer, without the beer.
Not wanting to search endlessly in Georgetown for a parking space, I parked in Rosslyn and we rode Key Bridge into Georgetown. About 1 block from the start we rode by no fewer than ten empty parking spaces. Doh!
The starting area had an abundance of #bikedc people I knew. Gina and Michelle from WABA were working the registration area. Liz was volunteering there as well. Chris M. and Rachel “Don’t Call Me Bob” Cannon were marshalls. Ed and Mary (she less than 24 hours removed from running a marathon) and Dave and Jean were hanging out with their Co-Motion tandems. Up rolled Shawn, Brian, Jonathan, Lisa, Ryan, Will, John Roche (all the way from Baltimore), and Matilde.
Some of these folks rolled out on the 59-mile course, the rest of us headed out on the 31 mile ride. We cruised along without incident and learned that Linel’s Madone is equipped with an anti gravity device as she cruised up the hill on Reservoir Road. A few minutes later winter took a bite out of the fun as Matilde lost her phone when her bike’s impact with a pothole sent it flying.
We climbed up the small hill at the reservoir. I took off on the backside and fell in with a group of people riding in a pace line. Wee, no headwind for me. Chris B. flew by, heading back toward DC.
I continued on rather pleased with myself until we reached the hill at Great Falls Park. Here I demonstrated my craptastic hill climbing abilities. Bicyclists after bicyclist passed me and my bruised ego. The first thing to go is your legs. The second thing to go is your pride.
I rolled into the rest stop in Potomac Village and rested. Foods were eaten. Bathrooms were broken. Rest was achieved.
Back we went toward the start. As I turned left into Avenel I was pushed by a strong tailwind gust. Rather than waste the energy, I down shifted and started pedaling hard. The Mule and I went all 02134. (Obscure PBS reference.)
Peter pulled along beside me. He had been meandering around the route and decided to head back to DC. As we chatted he told me how he, too, had lost his phone. We rode side by side down Persimmon Tree Road to MacArthur Boulevard. Tailwinds made for easy work.
At the finish we made our way inside the Swedish embassy to partake of the blueberry soup. It was hot but not as sweet as I recalled from previous years. At the embassy we met up with Lis. This was the first time I’ve seen her in the wild. Normally, I see her at Friday Coffee Club. I also met up with Randy from the Alexandria Bike Ped Advisory Committee.
A few minutes later KL came up to me and introduced herself. I drew a blank until she explained we met at the WABA holiday party last December. She introduced her friend Magen.
After a few minutes of souping, we gathered together 11 people and headed to Pizzeria Paradiso in Georgetown where KL and Magen were already seated. (Who says bicycle events don’t do something for local businesses?)
After some fine pizza and beer, we parted ways. Linel and I rode across Key Bridge and were soon on our way homeward.
All in all, the Vasa ride provided a pretty darn good start to the #bikedc event year. I think it’s incredible that I, a pretty serious introvert, can go to a bike event in DC and see 23 people I know and meet another. Many thanks to all the volunteers who helped out. Thanks also to the WABA employees who gave up their Sunday to make this happen. Humongous thanks to Michelle Cleveland, WABA’s event coordinator. She was working on four hours of sleep and somehow managed to keep smiling throughout the day.
For some more pix of the day, check out my Flickr album.