Colorful riding

It’s crazy pretty around here this fall. The dominant colors are browns and yellows, not the blazing reds of the northeast. I’m not complaining. I’ll pass on a few red maples just to avoid that one or two week period in the dead of winter when the thermometer dips below zero and the inside of my nose freezes.

The colors are made more vivid by the angle of the sun this time of year. The twinkling water of the river and the glow of the leaves makes for happy riding. I’ve been cruising around the DC area on all three bikes savoring the fading days of warmth. In the last seven days I’ve ridden over 280 miles just peeping my fool head off.

Dawn on the Mount Vernon Trail

When I ride to Friday Coffee Club this time of year, the sun is just rising when I reach the Dyke Marsh bump-out on a bridge on the Mount Vernon Trail. Sometimes the sun is peeking through the tree line across the way in Maryland. Other times its radiance is muted in the pre-dawn minutes but the river is steaming its way into the morning.

The Mule at Dyke Marsh at sunrise. #specializedsequoia #potomacriver #mtvernontrail
The Mule at daybreak in Dyke Marsh

Autumn in DC
One week later from the same spot just before sunrise

Rock Creek Park

Going to Friday Coffee Club gets me out of bed and into the city some 15 miles up river. After the working stiffs head off to make the donuts, I ride up into Rock Creek Park, an urban canyon with a bike trail and, for now, restricted car access on Beach Drive, the main road. It’s pretty splendid scenery.

Autumn in Rock Creek Park
This is the brand new path near the National Zoo in Rock Creek Park.

Autumn in Rock Creek Park
Heading down hill on Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park

Fort Hunt Park

Closer to home, Fort Hunt Park puts on quite a show. Sadly, two old large maples have died in recent years but there’s still some arboreal fireworks on display.

Fort Hunt Park in the fall
Big Nellie takes in the colors in Fort Hunt Park

The C&O Canal

Last Sunday I drove up to Maryland to make for an easier 50 mile out and back ride on the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath. The C&O is a terrific place for a day ride, made all the better by recent improvements to the trail upriver from Riley’s Lock in Montgomery County, Maryland. The towpath in is area used to be filled with ruts and mud and now it’s a sweet roll for miles and miles.

C&O canal between Riley’s Lock and Edwards Ferry. Super nice new surface.
Morning light on the C&O towpath. Love that smooth surface.
C&O canal between Riley’s Lock and Edwards Ferry. Super nice new surface.
Autumn sunlight makes the Potomac River sparkle along the C&O towpath.

The Great Pumpkin Ride

After Friday’s ride through Rock Creek Park, I drove west to Warrenton for the annual Great Pumpkin Ride. The early morning state made for some cold rolling for an hour or so, but the scenery made up for any discomfort.

Fall foliage on the roads of Fauquier County VA during the Great Pumpkin Ride
On the Great Pumpkin Ride, you have to stop and take in the autumn vibe, babee.

Fall foliage on the roads of Fauquier County VA during the Great Pumpkin Ride
If you sneak out early, before the 9 a.m. start or the Great Pumpkin Ride, you avoid the scrum on the bike path and get the roads all to yourself for a while.

Fall foliage on the roads of Fauquier County VA during the Great Pumpkin Ride
A couple of Great Pumpkin riders cruising down a country lane.

The Great Pumpkin Ride, like most open road bike events, has one feature that I don’t like: packs of riders going fast and passing uncomfortably close to me. After several packs blew by me, I rolled up to one such pack that had ended up in a crash. Some of the riders were sitting dazed in the grass next to the road while someone was picking up their fallen steeds and moving them off the pavement.

After about 50 miles, attention spans start to lapse. A lone rider on a matte black road bike just ahead of me drifted off the pavement into the short grass on the shoulder. My brain said “No. Don’t!’ I’d seen this happen so many times, but there was nothing I could do but watch. He tried to steer back onto the asphalt, caught the edge of his front rim on the transition, and fell hard on his side. He lay on his back until the pain subsided then got up and road to the finish 14 miles ahead.

I may be old, but I’m slow. And al this autumn riding means I’m still in one peace.

10 thoughts on “Colorful riding

  1. I enjoyed a 57.5 mile ride Saturday. From the top of Beach Drive in Garrett Park down to Old Town, then back north along the Anacostia trail network and Sligo Creek through Silver Spring: places I’ve either never ridden before or haven’t visited in nearly 30 years. It was indeed a spectacular day to ride: sunny, warm, calm, dry air and cloudless blue skies.

    1. Yes, I have my teeth attached to all my handlebars.

      Actually, those are LED white blinky “be seen” lights. The rubber case that holds the LEDs and the batteries wrap around the handlebar or, on my other bikes, on one of the forks. (I have some red ones for the rear.) If I need something stronger I pull out my Light and Motion light that is super bright.

  2. When I did the PBP the first year, a woman riding slowly in front of me fell over onto the grass on the side of the road. I stopped to check on her and noticed she was completely clipped in and sleeping peacefully. She fell asleep on the bike and the fall didn’t even wake her up. Surprised to hear so many of the Pumpkin riders would want to zoom along on such a lovely path.
    I think I will convince my son to do that little bit of C&O with me when I visit him next year.

    1. I meant “first time” not “first year”. Had I done it the first year, it would have been in the 1800’s.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s