It’s Iconic – DC Bike Ride

Today was the first DC Bike Ride. This closed streets ride is the successor to Bike DC, an event I did several times in the past. They changed the name because Bike DC had a weather hex on it. The ruse did not work.

The course meanders through the erstwhile swampy bits of DC before heading over toward the Pentagon on the HOV lanes on I 395.  The ride costs about 50 bucks for 17 miles so if you were looking for a bargain, this wasn’t it. But it was an opportunity to show people in this area that you support bicycling in DC, even if it means pruney hands.

With temperatures in the 50s and a steady light rain, 8,000 folks gathered on Pennsylvania Avenue. I spotted the #bikeMVT contingent consisting of Linel, Amber, Ed, and Reba. We were later joined by Sam and her mom, Joanne.

Cathy Plume stopped by. Sam, Cathy, and I participated in the protest that completed the installation of u-turn barriers on the Pennsylvania cycletrack last summer.

An announcer came on to give us useful information about all the iconic things we would see on the iconic streets in this iconic city. Somebody shut this guy’s iconic piehole, please!

Soon the announcements were over and the 14 mph group waddle to the starting line. One waddler fell over and his shoe stayed stuck to his pedal. It looked embarrassing and utterly pathetic.

Off we rode. At a brisk 10 mph. We rode into Southwest wear we could see iconic rain. We rode with great enthusiasm (which made up for our lack of speed). Over to Foggy Bottom which seemed aptly named. We made our way to the iconic Whitehurst Freeway. The route seemed to fold back on itself. It also seemed to avoid National Park Service roads, simplifying the clearances needed to put on the ride.

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Iconic Rain and Crane

We turned around at the Key Bridge and retraced our route until we crossed the Mall at 14th Street. Just past D Street we could see a minor problem. The early wave of riders were on hold as the last wave of riders cleared the ramp to Maine Ave.

Continuing on 14th,  we rode across the iconic Potomac River, near the site of the iconic Air Florida crash. Onward past the iconic Pentagon until we did an iconic U-turn and headed back to DC. On the way, I spotted Nelle (now there’s an icon!) from WABA waving like a maniac. Or perhaps she was pointing out an iconic jersey barrier. I also saw Ultrarunnergirl who fortunately seemed not to be water soluble. Ultrarunnergirl was finishing being best bike buddy of the Big Bike Weekend. I saw her on Bike to Work Day riding south on the Mount Vernon Trail. She rode to Huntington, probably 12 miles past her office, to escort her friend Yolanda on Yolanda’s first bike commute. After the ride, I chatted with them. Yes, she also rode with Yolanda during today’s ride.

We continued on, finally riding around 14 mph. Wheee. Then we turned on to Pennsylvania Avenue. Kathy Lewis waved us in to the finish line.

I rode to the after party which had no signage for bike parking. Erp.

There I hung out with Chris, who volunteered like a maniac all weekend. I met Chris on the first Cider Ride in 2013. I talked to a whole bunch of people, the decided to head back to my car which I had parked at Gravelly Point in Virginia.

WABA walked off with $38,000 from this event. And raised tons of awareness about Vision Zero. Not bad for a truly crummy day of weather.

All things considered DC Bike Ride seemed to be a smashing success. Perhaps next year it will even be iconic.

I stashed a whole bunch of Flickr pix here.

Thanks to the staff people at WABA and the volunteers for all the work you did on this event. Also, thanks to the EMTs and police that stood out in the rain to get us through the event safely.

 

 

Bike to Work Day 2016

I did not feel very good when I woke up but I decided to ride to work anyway. It was Bike to Work Day, after all. Slowly.

I poked along, coughing fits one mile, calm breathing the next. I rolled into the Alexandria Pir Stop at City Hall Plaza in Old Town. I saw Reba, Ed #1, and Kathy chatting and took their picture. Jonathan was reading off raffle winners. And Reba won something, something

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Ed, Reba, and Kathy
Monaco. Holy cow! Then we heard him repeat the prize:  one night at the Hotel Monaco in Old Town. So Reba’s dreams of being a Bond girl went up in smoke. Truth be told, it’s a pretty darn nice prize.

Onward to Rosslyn. I was a bit surprised that the bike commuter traffic was so normal. Then at the north end of Old Town, I convoy of women on bikes, suspiciously without panniers or backpacks made a turn across my path. I followed them. In the course of a short conversation with one of the riders, I learned it was a tour group of ten women, aged 50 and above, who started riding in St. Augustine, Florida. They were taking a couple of rest days to see the DC sights before continuing on: destination Bar Harbor, Maine. They were traveling with a company called Women Tours.

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Bike Train to Maine
Soon they left me behind and I continued northward. On one of the flyover bridges at National Airport an on coming cyclists caught my eye. Short blazing red hair and distinctive panniers with a pattern on them and pronounced handles sticking straight up. It was Ultrarunnergirl, who never seems to come to Virginia on her bike. I started waving like and idiot and she went to give me a high five but, me having absolutely no cool, didn’t even make a decent attempt.

Fail.

On I rode to Rosslyn as the volume of bike commuters picked up (i.e. blew by me). Two Lance Mamilots came roaring down the trail swerving among the bike commuters, many of whom may have been first timers. My only words to the Lances is that you are self absorb asses and it’s riders like you that put off people who want to ride to work safely.

I somehow made it up the Rosslyn hill into the Rosslyn pit stop. There I ran I

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Nelle
nto WABA‘s Nelle (she’s the awesome Deputy Director) and ever jovial Dana who gave me my BTWD shirt. I won a water bottle then grabbed another from a couple of other tables. One was from Bruce Deming who specializes in personal injury cases involving bicyclists. I talked about two cases involving contributory negligence, one that allowed the victim to make a claim, the other (a fatality) that left the victim’s survivors with nothing but memories.

I had three cups of Java Shack coffee, the first coffee I had had since Sunday. They made me feel euphoric. I rode the sidewalk to the office and in my hyper attentive state avoided being hit by a red light runner at 19th and Lynn. I yelled at him to no avail.

The bike room at work had 2 bikes when I arrived. Lame. Two co-workers came in a few minutes later, but didn’t sign up for Bike to Work Day. Seriously. If free and convenient is not enough, I don’t know what is.

At 11 am the coffee wore off and I powered down like the robot on Lost in Space. Thud. Another cup had little effect. Lunch revived me somewhat and, after work, I headed to NE DC to pick up my packet for Sunday’s DC Bike Ride. I met Ed #1 again. He gets around. Then Nelle, again. We’ve run into each other four times in the last two weeks. People are starting to talk. (“Nelle, who is that creepy old dude?” People can be mean.)

I ran into Charmaine who I haven’t seen since our North Carolina bike adventure two years ago. We sat and chatted for over a half hour allowing me to recover from the 18 or so miles I had already ridden.

I also briefly ran into Ed #2, and Ted and Jean, who are Friday Coffee Clubbers.

I had a token for a free beer but nobody wanted it, even a stranger I approached. All my beer drinking #bikedc friends were probably at BTWD happy hours.

I left at 6:30 headed for home, deliberately going so slow I was annoying myself. I made it home after 8 pm through dozens of clouds of midges. I was covered with the darn things.

Tomorrow I get up and work the East Beer booth at the Tour de Fat event. Unfortunately the weather forecast calls for rain. I will do my best to present a cheery face. Instead of riding to the event, I’ll be driving to my wife’s office a mile away and ride from there.

Super big thanks to all the people who got up early and worked on behalf of #bikedc. You done good. Special thanks to Nelle who put in a monster day, working two events.