Long time coming

Back in my running days, half a lifetime ago, I learned that my body has a strange way of acclimating to long efforts. The first time I ran 20 miles, I nearly died. After a week, I could do the same 20 miles with a 2-mile kick at the end. No problem.

Today was the first decent weather day in months. It was time to reset my body for the long rides ahead. I hopped on The Mule and headed upriver. A tailwind gave me confidence.

After six miles I ran some errands in Old Town Alexandria. I dropped off some glass bottles in a recycling bin. Next, I hit the magic money machine at the bank. Finally, I swung by Old Town Books to pick up a purchase I made online. (Amazon may be inexpensive and convenient but it has all but killed the small book store. Book stores are one of the few places that I enjoy shopping in so I am going to do my part to make sure that this relatively new shop survives.)

Errands competed, I headed to DC. I hit 15 miles in Georgetown. Ordinarily I’d turn around and head for home but not today. I rode a few miles out the Capital Crescent trail slowing only to admire the Seussian cormorants perched in the trees overhanging the Potomac. Someone once told me that they feed on bass that are swimming up river to spawn.

At Thompson’s Boat House I climbed away from the trail to MacArthur Boulevard. The short hill put the hurt on me. I headed northwest on MacArthur. Traffic was unexpectedly normal. Don’t these people know about the pandemic?

The Mule managed the hill at the reservoir without too much distress. We went down the other side and out past Glen Echo Park and its magnificent art deco sign.

Just before the Capital Beltway I turned to climb up Persimmon Tree Road. I had convinced myself that this way would involve less climbing. Why? I was just going to head back home down another hill to this same point on the route.

The climb was gradual but it went on for a couple of miles. Modest homes (each worth a bit shy of $1 million, I’d guess) gave way to posh estates near Congressional Country Club Golf Course.

Trees were leafing. Dogwoods and azaleas were showing off their colorful blossoms. The rain had left all the lawns and the golf course a lush green.

After a few more miles I reached Potomac Village where the rich people pay $1 more per gallon and don’t much care.

I banged a left on Falls Road with a rather large SUV right on my rear wheel. As it overtook me I looked over to the driver and mouthed “What the f$&@?!”

A mile or two of rollers led me to the entrance to Great Falls Park. The park is closed but you can still access it by bike and on foot. I look unhappy in this picture but I was in need of calories, which a small granola bar supplied.

After the granola feastette, I headed down the long, windy, wooded hill back to the flat part of MacArthur.

Clear of the trees, the road took me straight into a headwind. Okay, just 29 miles to go.

I passed a bank sign in the Palisades neighborhood. 77 degrees. It felt much warmer but that’s just Winter Me. Instead of retracing my route to the Capital Crescent Trail I decided to ride across Georgetown. I made a navigational error and ended up on Canal Road. Under normal circumstances this would be suicide, but the traffic had lightened and I was headed against the covid-diminished flow of rush hour commuters.

I crossed the Key Bridge back to Virginia and was blasted by a strong cross wind, the same wind I had been riding into for 15 miles. I headed home on the Mount Vernon Trail. This was not a bad choice for the first three or four miles. Then came the madness. Between National Airport and Old Town there was an insane amount of trail traffic. I kept hoping it would abate but it only got worse. Add in the reckless pathletes out to prove their cycling awesomeness and you have a recipe for crashes. Somehow, someway none happened. I saw a dozen near misses though. Only a fraction of the people on the trail were using masks or other similar face coverings. And with all the traffic, there was little room for anything approximating social distancing.

I left the trail in Old Town and rode the streets. a wise choice. No longer was I encumbered by kiddies on bikes, dog walkers with 20 foot leashes, and alpha males in lycra. When I returned to the trail on the south side of town, I had left the madness behind somehow.

The ride from Old Town to the stone bridge took me through a tunnel of green. So relaxing!

As I neared home I saw that I was 1 1/4 miles shy of 60 miles so I did what any exhausted fool would do, I kept riding until I was that nice round number. It was the first time I’d ridden 60 miles in six months.

I hope that in a few days my body is ready for a repeat.

For now, I am grateful to finally get a nice spring day to get my bicycling yayas out.

3 thoughts on “Long time coming

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