It Gets Harder at the Finish

In marathon running, the race is 26.2 miles long. The half way point is at 20 miles. That’s when the bear jumps on your back.

Riding 10,000 miles in a year has some resemblance. It seems the last 200 miles are going to have some challenges.

A New Route

We had terrific weather over the last three days so I banged out 111 miles. I discovered a new 41-mile out-and back ride that has lots to offer. It follows the Potomac Heritage Trail to Fort Washington National Park.

I ride 5 miles to the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. Then I go over the bridge and down a fun spiral ramp that takes me further down to a cove near National Harbor. Just before the harbor, I turn east through a corrugated steel tunnel and climb a half mile past the MGN casino complex and up Oxon Hill.

At the top, I bang a right on Oxon Hill Road and ride through three roundabouts. They do a good job of calming traffic and they make you feel like a little kid for some reason. Whee! There is an bike lane, sometimes protected, often with glass and other debris. (Not the greatest design but at least a B+ for effort.) After my rotary service, I take a right on Fort Foote Road for three miles of rolling suburb. This takes me back to Oxon Hill Road. A right turn begins a fast descent off the hill to Livingston Road where I take a right. This road isn’t very pleasant but I’m only on it for a mile or so when I take a another right onto Fort Washington Road. A half mile later the PHT turns right on Riverview Road for a tour of a pretty fine suburban neighborhood. Many of the homes face the Potomac River. (There are a few big houses down long access drives. I think they are safe houses or owned by mobsters. Feel free to check this out on your own.) I go past a marina and over Swan Creek.

Next it’s time for some golf. The PHT winds through a golf-based development for another mile or so before returning to Fort Washington Road where two short but challenging climbs bring me to the gates of Fort Washington Park. I ride to the fort and, if I am in the mood, take some time to check out the view of the river. (Fort Washington is directly across the river from Fort Hunt. Riders on the Mount Vernon Trail can get a good look at it.)

After reaching the fort, I retrace my steps. There are only a couple of nasty hills, one leaving the park, and one going back up Oxon Hill.

Beware the MVT

On Sunday I did my 35-mile route up to the Arlington Triangle, and back. About 26 miles of this ride are on trails. The 60-degree weather brought out all kinds of people making the ride truly annoying. Twice I came to a dead stop because traffic backed up behind a slow mover. Then there were the people who stopped and chatted on the trail. (Lovely day. Look at all the bikes. Those riders look upset. Can’t imagine why.) Must not kill. And there was the one guy walking his dog with a friend. He decided to do a crazy Ivan (a quick, no-look turn around into oncoming traffic). Something told me to be ready. Good thing I had my hands on my brakes.

I have come to expect that trail users who are chatting as they go filter out audible warnings from passing riders. That’s what happened in this case. I just missed taking Ivan out. He said he was sorry. Would have been a lot sorrier if I hadn’t been paying attention.

In Rosslyn I passed the site of a hotel implosion earlier in the day. It was an immense pile of rubble. I pulled over to the left to take a picture from the side of the trail. A pathlete zoomed by me without warning. I yelled “Passing on your left!” sarcastically.

Later the ride included getting stuck behind seven riders going at a crawl. (Try passing seven bikes at the same time.) During the delay we came to a cluster of people blocking the trail. It was a group of seven walkers. Three were blocking the left lane. Four had just crossed a busy road to our right. One of the four, a toddler, decided that now was a good time to flop on the ground and whine. With mom and dad distracted, their six year old was darting back and forth across the trail.

Once I cleared all this humanity, I found my self speeding along with a tail wind. The ride home was not half bad, except for the running of the tourists in Old Town Alexandria. The passage under the Woodrow Wilson Bridge just south of tourist central was scenic relief. (This picture was taken at the same time of day on Friday.)

Fed up with trail chaos, I left the trail and climbed the Park Terrace hill. This beast is exactly 20 yards higher than my legs will go. I stood and pounded away at the pedals. My thighs felt like they were on fire. All I had to do was to get past the parked Volvo at the top. Not gonna happen. I had to sit and use my granny. Dang.

The End of the Line

Today featured cold rain. We’re back to December. The last 100 miles will be tough. Tomorrow I’ll ride in 40- degree weather. I don’t wanna! Then we expect snow for Wednesday. After that I’ll pick and choose my last three days of cold riding. Temps will top out around 40 for the remainder of the week. Nothing like having a polar bear on your back.

Barring a catastrophe (don’t laugh, it happened three years ago), I should be at 10,000 miles by Sunday or Monday. On Saturday, I am joining the indefatigable Judd Lumberjack who is organizing volunteer work crews to do maintenance on the Mount Vernon Trail. Our assignment is to clean and nail down boards on infamous Bridge No. 1. I crashed on this bridge about 30 years ago. I cut my arm to the bone, dislocated my left knee, and nearly destroyed my bike. Vengeance will be mine.

Next up, on December 23, I am going to the Bloodmobile down the street to donate blood. Maybe I can throw them a clot or two. In all seriousness, I am ashamed to say that I’ve never donated before. I picked a good time to donate because I think they give a covid antibody test to all donors. Can bears get covid? Seems only fair.

Well, the Ride in Was Fun

On the recommendation of Bob “Don’t Call Me Rachel” Cannon, I took my son’s car to Baird Automotive in Clarendon. They are a little pricey but seem to have their act together which is sadly unusual in the world of auto maintenance. 

I could have walked to Metro but then why do that when Little Nellie’s around?

Off we went through Clarendon when suddenly the smooth pavement gave way to a milled mess. The milling was deep in spots, tossing LIttle Nellie wee wheels this way and that. Please cars, don’t kill me. The good pavement returned after three or four blocks, just in time for a screaming downhill to my office in Rosslyn. Once past the Clarendon Metro station I caught every green light. I felt like I won a prize. All too soon, I arrived at work, my two mile bike commute was short but invigorating.

The ride home, not so much. Riding back to the mechanic involved grinding back up that monster hill. Fortunately, the ride back had no milled pavement to deal with. Just one long mother of a hill. I crested the hill just shy of Clarendon as rain drops started to fall. Wouldn’t it be nice if I got to the mechanic without getting soaked in a down pour. And it was. 

I always think that the people working at shops will take one look at me and my itty bitty bike and bust a gut laughing. I entered the shop and there was a nice Trek road bike on a workstand in the waiting area. Well, gaaawlee. 

I do believe I’ll come back in the future.