700 States in a Fortnight

A couple of weeks ago I participated in my 14th 50 States Ride.

14? Yes, I may have a problem.

For the uninitiated, the 50 States Ride is the main event in the Washington Area Bicyclists Association ride calendar. Participants follow a course that winds all over DC as they ride on every street named for a state. The route is about 60 miles long with minor variations from year to year. Like last year, this year’s ride started at Yards Park, a small green space along the Anacostia River in the Near Southeast neighborhood.

After parking my car in East Potomac Park, I rode about three miles to the start where a posse of hardcore fools met up for the ride. Michael B., Kevin W., and Chris M. returned from last year’s group. Keith A. who I met on my very first 50 States Ride in 2006 and who I ran into on my bike tour this summer joined us. Jeff D. with whom I’ve ridden two 50-States and countless other event rides also met us at the start. Alas, Jeff and his friend Mike seemed always to be just behind our group so we only saw him at pit stops during the ride.

The returning posse members were joined by a bunch of youngsters whose names I, of course, can’t remember for the life of me. Okay, I managed to remember Sara, Julie, Catherine (sp?), and Chuck but there were two other guys whose names fell out of my head. Along the way we were joined by Claire. For much of the ride we were shadowed by Steve O., a volunteer course marshal who knows a fund group when he sees one.

That’s a pretty big pack of riders. I believe some of the new people work with Chris at a federal government agency while others are known to Kevin from the Thursday night PubRoll. The PubRoll was started by posse expat Peter K., who moved to Barcelona this summer. (We miss you Peter!)

I would post a picture of the group but Kevin has it and is not giving it up. Maybe he’s got Big Nate class picture issues. I didn’t take any pictures except those below so you’ll have to believe me when I say this was one good looking group.

The route goes up and down and all around. Through neighborhood streets and on main roads, into traffic circles, and on bike paths. There are countless stops at stop signs, traffic lights, and pit stops. Usually this causes a group to splinter but this year’s posse was as cohesive as any I’ve ever ridden with.

Usually we are treated to a cloud burst or horrible humidity but not this year. The weather was splendid.

The pit stops – staffed rest areas with snacks, water, and restrooms – were fewer this year. There was no stop until the halfway point in Eastern Market on Capitol Hill where I managed to fall when dismounting and got a boo boo on my elbow. Michael got me a bandaid from the WABA first aid kit that caused an earnest WABA person to fill out an incident report. This took longer than the incident but this is DC and whenever we have a chance to fill out some paperwork we get rather excited.

We also stopped at Mike and LIsa’s house, the Tacoma pit stop near the northern most part of DC. Mike and Lisa open their home, well, their bathrooms and front lawn, to the pedaling horde every year. They are super nice and ride a mean bike when not handing out snacks. They are also serious Washington Nationals fans.

After Mike and Lisa’s we continued on and had our pictures taken as we turned onto Alaska Avenue by Patti Heck. She stands there, rain or shine, all day taking photos of the riders. Follow the link and you can find scads of pictures of this year’s riders (and, for that matter, riders from previous years).

Me with Keith in hot pursuit. Photo by Patti Heck. Used with permission.
Steve O. – photo by Patti Heck
Jeff D. photo by Patti Heck
Chris M. – photo by Patti Heck
Posse newbies – photo by Patti Heck

After descending to MacArthur Boulevard we climbed back up Cathedral Heights. This involves two challenging hills, one on Garfield Street, the other on Cathedral Avenue.

The 2022 50 States Ride posse at the Cathedral Heights pit stop. Everyone finished.
The posse at Cathedral Heights. They’re smiling because they realize the hills are finished!

The rest of the route was a meander through the flat core of the city, then on to Hains Point along the Potomac River and the big finish back at Yards Park. We tried to join the official afterparty at a bar near Nats Park The bar is located between the Metro and the ballpark. It was no surprise that with a Nats game about to start the bar was packed. So we rode to Solace, a bar located on the opposite side of the ballpark where we had a celebratory beer and finger food.

From the sound of things the posse will re-assemble for WABA’s Cider Ride in early November. Stay tuned.

Sunrise on the Anacostia. Haze courtesy of wildfires out west.

While I was at the Tacoma rest stop I talked with Lisa for quite a while. She has a collection of Nats bobbleheads and is missing only one, Sean Doolittle. I just happened to have one so I rode back up to her house a couple of days later. On the way home I coincidentally ran into Mike. We chatted for long enough for me to take a picture of him in his summer bike cap.

Mike in his summer cap
Mike in his summer bike cap

Just before the event we were handed an addendum to the cue sheet. There was a street festival on H Street NE that the ride organizers wanted us to avoid. The route normally passes by the ghost bike that stands as a memorial to Dave Salovesh a friend who was killed by a driver on Good Friday of 2019. A few days later I went back to see the bike and take a moment to remember him.

Dave’s ghost bike.

And so another 50 States Ride is in the books. Will I do it again? As Rachel Maddow says, watch this space.

5 thoughts on “700 States in a Fortnight

  1. The 50 States Ride reminds me of the San Francisco 49 Mile Scenic Drive (not meant as a bike ride but it comes in handy when one is on call and can’t leave the city but wants some exercise). I’m still tweaking the route of the 77 Square Ride (so called because my home town has been referred to as “77 square miles surrounded by reality”). I must commend Chris M on his jersey choice – the same jersey which caused some consternation from a Belgian when I wore it on a coast to coast tour.

  2. Now I understand. When I met you and you mentioned the 50 states ride, I thought you meant the actual states not the streets and marveled at your discipline.

    1. I am still missing 15 states in real life. I doubt I’ll ever ride in all of them. It’s why I thought about riding across Nebraska instead of Kansas this past year. I also considered riding down to northwest Arkansas then over to Tulsa to bag two states. I didn’t think I’d have the time. Turns out I did. Oh well.

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