A #bikedc noobie’s to do list

Julia just moved to DC last week. She came to last night’s #bikedc happy hour hoping to connect with vagabonds and rapscallions. You came to the right place, kid,

Julia was pummeled with advice about what to do and where to ride now that she lives in the bicycling capital of the New World. With that in mind, I thought I’d take the opportunity to make a list of ten things newbies to #bikedc should do.

  1. Ride the Mount Vernon Trail. You can take any of four bridges in DC to the MVT but I suggest starting at Key Bridge in Georgetown. Cross into Virginia, bang a left and soon you’ll be along the banks of the Potomac. Make a day of it.
    • Take a quick hike on Teddy Roosevelt Island
    • Admire the awesome view of the monuments from across the river
    • Check out the planes landing and taking off at National Airport. Don’t be surprised if you get buzzed by a jet using the secondary runway.
    • Take in the bumper car sailboats at Daingerfield Island
    • Have a coffee, snack, beer, or ice cream as you roll through Old Town Alexandria.
    • Ooh and aah under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.
    • Keep and eye out for bald eagles. There are at least six nests visible from the trail.
    • Check out Fort Washington across the river.
    • Take a tour of Mt Vernon estate.
  2. Ride to Great Falls National Park in Maryland
    • Just follow the C&O canal towpath from Georgetown until you see a sign for the Olmstead Walk after about 14 miles. Lock your bike and walk out into the falls. Ride back via MacArthur Boulevard and stop at Glen Echo Park. Did someone say “yurts”?
  3. Check out the lotus blossoms
    • Ride the Anacostia River Trail to Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens in mid July. The water lilies and lotus blossoms are to die for.
  4. Take me out to the ballgame
    • The bestest way ever to attend a baseball game at Nationals Park (home of the WORLD CHAMPIONS!!) is to ride a bike and park it at the free bike valet on First Street SE.  (It’s in the stadium complex with a big sign. Can’t miss it.) Don’t forget to tip the attendant when you leave.
  5. Ride into the canyon
    • Rock Creek Park is a canyon right in the middle of DC. On weekends and holidays much of the northern part of the park is closed to motor vehicles. And if animals are your thing, you can stop at the National Zoo.
  6. Did someone say cherry blossoms?
    • There is simply no better way to see the cherry blossoms than by bike. If you can get to the Tidal Basin at sunrise, walk your bike around the perimeter of the basin. Be careful not to go snow blind. Then ride to Hains Point. The road is bordered by cherry trees all the way down and back.
    • Ride up the Capital Crescent Trail to the Kenmore neighborhood of Bethesda. Wow.
  7. Did someone say work?
    • Make sure to sign up for Bike to Work Day, the third Friday in May. It’s free. Go to a pitstop, meet people, and pick up some swag and the all-important (it’s still not pink) t-shirt. After work there are happy hours, too. It’s a very cool celebration of bike commuting.
  8. See the entire city
    • Each September, the Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA) holds the 50 States Ride. It meanders 60 miles all over the city as riders follow a 10+ page cue sheet to ride on each avenue named for a state. You will meet people. You will get lost. You will probably get rained on. You will have fun. You will get one hell of a work out. (It’s hilly!) Oh, and there’s pizza and beer at the after party.
  9. Check out the monuments
      • The best time to see the monuments is at night. If the gods allow, do it on the night of a full moon in the summer. Keep an eye out for organized rides or just put one together yourself.
  10. Join WABA
    • WABA is our local advocacy organization. With your membership you get access to rides (like the 50 States), resources, and events. Members get discounts at local bike shops so the cost of membership pays for itself.

There are so many other things to do. There’s DC Bike Party, several centuries (and shorter) rides in the country (Backroads, Seagull, and Great Pumpkin are my favorites), and beaucoup opportunities on the C&O Canal (bike camping, sunflowers, White’s Ferry, Harper’s Ferry, and, yes, Pittsburgh!) and the W&OD (coffee, micro breweries, barbecue) to name a few.


3 thoughts on “A #bikedc noobie’s to do list

  1. I really like your blog. A pleasure to come stroll on your pages. A great discovery and a very interesting blog. Fascinating and beautiful. I come back to visit you. Do not hesitate to visit my universe. See you soon 🙂

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