Hains Point 100

Six or seven years ago, Megan Jones had an idea, a wonderfully goofy idea. She’d ride the 3.3 mile circuit in East Potomac Park 30 times in a day to raise awareness and money for the Washington Area Bicyclists Women and Bicycles program. She called her 100-mile event the Hains Point 100, because the circuit goes down to Hains point and because… do the math.

As someone who’s ridden WABA’s 50-State Ride nine times, I can attest to the magnetic draw of silly bike event gimmicks. Who the heck would want to ride around in circles for hours just to say they rode 100 miles? Who’d do it in the middle of December?

It turns out that LOTS of people would. Over 600 people signed up for today’s spin around the point. And from what I can tell, most of them showed up.

We had a blast. I rode with different people on each of my 13 loops. If you do the math, you’ll see that I didn’t ride 100 miles. Most people don’t. You don’t have to. You can ride 100 miles combined with your friends. Or 100 kilometers. Or 100 minutes. I rode 100 McEntees. According to the Hungarian Bureau of Standards, a McEntee is that unit that converts your miles to 100. This year each 0.44 miles I rode was 1 McEntee. If I had ridden further, it wouldn’t be Prudence.

The weather was about as good as one could hope for. Temperatures rose from freezing when I started at 9 a.m. into the high 40s when I quit at 1:30. Winds were calm. There was no precipitation.

For those of you who are quick on your little math feet, you’ll have figured out that it took 4 1/2 hours for me to ride 44 miles. And your probably saying to yourself, what a pathetically slow rider. Which is normally correct. But today I spent well over an hour in the pit area talking to friends. Adding in chatter time on the bike, I should get additional credit for talking 100 blue streaks.

Another aspect that I enjoyed was the fact that for the first time since my bike tour I felt strong on my bike. In the early going I was comfortably riding at 17 – 18 miles per hour which is unheard of for me. I even joined a massive group of about 20 riders for a while. We were clipping along at about 20 miles per hour. Whee! Pretty good for an old dude on a heavy bike.

On one of my laps I (sort of) rode alongside Kevin W. who had borrowed a Jump electric- assist dockless bike. These bikes are big and heavy but the motor more than makes up for that. Kevin would kick in the motor and instantly and smoothly accelerate away from me. Kevin was having a pretty good time showing me up. Again. (He took me to the cleaners at the 50 States Ride and two off-road rides earlier in the year.) My take on this little adventure is that these bikes are going places. I’d use one all the time if I were living in the city.

Another highlight was to see my friend Mike with his son who has developmental issues on a tandem. The two of them ride just about every weekend. Mike had expected to do one lap and then go home owing to his son’s low tolerance for long cold rides but the two of them were there for at least two hours. They are what love looks like.

Then there is the exuberance of youth. Rachel is about half my age.  She rode six and a half miles to today’s event with no gloves on. Suffice it to say, this was a reeeeeallly bad idea. (I spent the first 28 years of my life in the frozen north. Been there. Done that.) After riding some laps with me, she disappeared. I saw her a while later in the pit area. She had tears on her face and she was bending over, nauseated. Her fingers were nearly purple. Ugh. I gave her my mittens. She protested! She’d actually rather get frostbite than cause someone temporary discomfort. Raaychulll!!! She did reluctantlyeventually take the mittens. This is a good thing because I was about to smack her upside the head. Then Kevin came up with some spare gloves. Then we found a heater. It took a while and some chemical hand warmers but she got her hands thawed out. (Head hits table.)

There were so many other people there: Ryan and Ursulla and Leslie and Colin and Inez and Greg and Carrie (and their new baby) and Katie B. and Nelle and Jeff and Sam and Rachel II and Viola and Ed (thanks for the cupcake) and Kitty and Mary and Ted and Katie Bee and Chris N. and Laura and Adam and Michael and Mark and Jeanne and Finn and at least a half dozen others whose names and faces are lost in the voids of my brain.

I found out later the McEntees were there. Taking their measure of things.

Long story short: I had a blast.

I didn’t take any pictures but there were cameras everywhere. In a day or two there will be literally hundreds of still photos and videos posted to the interwebs.

Raising the 24 Percent

Nelle Pierson of WABA has asserted that only 24 percent of cyclists in DC are women. I challenged this a few years ago by keeping track of the percentage of women I see on my bike commute. Sure enough, Nelle was right.

Nelle started WABA’s Women and Bicycles program to move the 24 percent number up. Five years ago Megan Jones, a WABA Women and Bicycles member, decided to up the ante a bit. She invented the Hains Point 100.

Hains Point is what locals call East Potomac Park, a spur of land that juts into the Potomac River across from National Airport. The road down to the point and back forms a circuit of about three miles.

Megan decided to ride the Hains Point loop 33 times to increase awareness and raise funds for the Women and Bicycles program. With less than three weeks of notice, she staged the event, located sponsors, and sent out the word for people to come and ride. And, more importantly, to donate to the cause.

I did not go the first year because I thought the ride was restricted to women. It may have been, but apparently men find promotional gimmicks irresistible. Regardless, the field of riders is about as diverse as one can imagine.

A few people jump the gun and start at midnight. If you see them, discretely move to the opposite side of the street and divert your eyes.

Some people wear WABA cycling apparel. My WABA socks couldn’t compete with these WABA jerseys.

Three jerseys.jpg

Each year, Megan has made the event more bigger and more better, with more sponsors, more prizes, and more fun. The 100 mile challenge remains the core attraction, but most people come for the camaraderie of the #bikedc community. I rode 30 miles. And talked with a bunch of people and had a few cookies. After about three hours, I went home to attend to other commitments. It was still over 60 degrees when I left.

About 20 minutes later a cold front came through and dropped the temperature 25 degrees and blew away all the tents and such that formed the Hains Point 100 base camp. Some people saw a woman riding with the wind.


Welcoming Winter at the Hains Point 100

Women and bicycles have been very, very good to me. And I wanted to get out of the house and see some of my #bikedc friends. As luck would have it WABA was putting on its annual Hains Point 100 ride to benefit its Women & Bicycles program. What a remarkable coincidence.

The event involves riding the 3 1/3rd mile loop in East Potomac Park, known locally as Hains Point, mostly because the loop goes down to Hains Point and back.

Welcome home, Crystal
Welcome home, Crystal

I arrived about 15 minutes after the start and as I drove into the park there were about 100 cyclists streaming down Buckeye Drive. I parked the car, extracted Little Nellie from the trunk and joined the masses. Or, more truthfully, watched as the masses swarmed around me a speeds I could not match.

I rode with Aaron Hansen for a lap or so. We were passed by swarms of cyclists that included Chris Mamone, Ed Felkner and Mary Gersima on their tandem, Dave Salovesh and Jean DeStefano on their tandem, Ricky Albores, Katie Bolton, and Ted Nigrelli. Aaron dropped out and I soon found myself riding with Kathy Lewis for several laps. We managed to meet up with Crystal Bae who was riding a Bikeshare bike. Crystal and her husband Adam left DC for Santa Barbara about 1 1/2 years ago. They rode their bikes to California. It was great seeing her. I had hopes of seeing Alex Baca, another #bikedc expat in California, but, alas, she was a no show.

No wonder Kid O doesn't want to be seen in public with her dad.
No wonder Kid O doesn’t want to be seen in public with her dad.

I stopped after 20 miles to make a donation to WABA. This led to a whole bunch of chit chat with Mike Ross and Lisa Eaker and their daughter (who is lovely but who’s name completely slips my mind.) And Ricky. And Dave and Jean. And on and on and on. I even spotted a young Cannon (Jeremy) lingering about.

I decided to call it a day and head back to my car. During this last mile or so of riding I could feel a nerve or tendon or some other structure in my calf flexing like a guitar string and sending little shocks into my numb foot. I do believe I have found the culprit of my foot woes. Tomorrow I go to the acupuncturist. If that doesn’t work, a rolfing I will go.

On the drive out of the park I ran into (not literally) Justin Antos. With Justin, Ed, Mary, Mike, Lisa, Jeremy, and Michael it was a bit of a 50 States Ride reunion.

Here are some pix from today’s event.