May Day Ramble in DC

The citizens of #bikedc are agog. The long, cool, wet days of April are behind us. We’re in an honest to god heat wave. Hallellujah.

I took the opportunity to buy a ticket to a night game at Nationals Park. With several hours to kill I rode Little Nellie to DC. My first stop was at the Renwick Gallery. The Renwick is part of the Smithsonian Institution. Admission is free. Yay, America. It is located at 17th and Pennsylvania NW, a couple hundred yards from the White House or, if you have better taste, Swings House of Caffeine, home of Friday Coffee Club.

The Renwick has recently embraced the idea of multi-room art exhibits that visitors can be a part of. It’s the new, new thing in DC these days. The current exhibit contains artwork from Burning Man. Something about the size of these kinds of exhibits make me wonder “What kind of mind thinks this stuff up?” Certainly not my kind of mind.

The exhibit continues on the sidewalks in the surrounding neighborhood.

I left the Renwick and rode across town to the REI store. The store is located in the building that was once the Washington Sports Arena, the site of, among many other things, the first U.S. Beatles concert, held two days after an eight-year-old me watched them on Ed Sullivan.

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After purchasing some fancy pants (wicking underwear that I find useful for biking and hiking), I sat down for coffee and a cookie. Shopping requires sustenance, don’t you know.

Refueled, I headed for the Anacostia waterfront and Yards Park. Yards Park is part of the rejuvenation of a long neglected area of DC. Unfortunately, development has chewed up big chunks of the park. Still, on a day when the wind is blowing from the south and the sun is working it’s spring time magic, Yards Park is a great place to linger and reflect. I say on a bench and read a National Geographic.

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Next up was a ballgame at nearby Nationals Park. Ticket prices were surprisingly low so I bought a seat in the baseline boxes just beyond the Nationals dugout. The game was a treat. After weeks of moribund offence, the hometown team broke out of its funk by scoring 12 runs. They hit four home runs, two of which were Ruthian clouts. The only downside to the proceedings were the pollen (ick) and the heat. After about three innings the heat was getting to me. How will I ever ride across the country if my heat tolerance is so low? DRINK some water you moron! And so I did. I downed about a gallon during the game.

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After the game I was rewarded with a glorious ride home in the dark. As I reached the Virginia side of the 14th Street bridge over the Potomac River, I felt the temperature drop several degrees. It declined incrementally for the next hour as I pedaled the final 12 miles home.

So, 11 hours and 36 miles after I left the house my May Day ramble ended.

For more pix from the day, you can check out my Flickr album.

Riding to Eagles and Beatles

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The weather was perfect for a bike ride. Yay, April. So off I went on Little Nellie to DC. As I passed beneath the Morningside eagle nest I spotted a white head sticking up from the nest. I couldn’t tell if it was an eagle or an opportunistic osprey but it gave me an idea for a destination: the National Arboretum and its bald eagle nest.

I took the Woodrow Wilson Bridge across the Potomac River. The climb away from the river passes the enormous new MGM casino complex. It’s a whole lot of ugly, but you can eat at posh restaurants and see a show and throw away your hard earned dollars there. Go get ’em. I’ll pass.

At the top of the hill, I took a sidewalk (because MDOT hasn’t figured out how to accommodate bicyclist for beans in this area) to Oxon Hill Farm and descended back to the river. You see this climb and descent is required because MDOT couldn’t figure out how to add a trail along the river as there has been in Virginia for over 45 years.

The descent was a little scary because my left hand is messed up from getting jammed in flood debris on my hike yesterday. I think a small piece of wood may be lodged in my left middle finger. So braking is rather difficult.

I rode through Anacostia and made my way to Anacostia Park where there was a big festival. I ran into Nelle and Ursula from WABA. They were busy getting set up for the event.  At an adjacent booth I talked with Carlos (I think that’s his name) who used to work in my local bike shop. He immediately recognized Little Nellie and asked how many miles she had on her (17,500+). Carlos did good work.

After being social for a few minutes I went back into introverted rider bliss mode along the Anacostia River.  Puffy clouds and blue skies were reflected in its calm waters. I crossed over the river on the Benning Road overpass and took busy Benning northeast. Not a lot of fun but it got the job done. No way I would ride this street on a weekday. Two more busy, bike-hostile roads (17th Street and Blandensburg Road) and I was into the Arboretum. I walked by bike past a road block allowing only pedestrians to enter. Alas, further up the road a more restrictive sign appeared. No entry. Period. So I turned around.

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You can check out the bald eagle nest on dceaglecam.org.  There are two very cute eaglets in the nest right now. They seem to be thriving for all I know.

After my eagle fail,  I headed across town to the new REI store where a free beer event was to be held later in the day.  I arrived way too early so instead of drinking beer I went gawked at all the merchandise. It’s a outdoorsy wet dream. Kayaks and bikes and clothing, oh my.

The store is in the renovated Uline Arena, the site of the first Beatles concert in the US. (The place was called the Washington Sports Arena back in 1964.) The store gives a nod to this history (and other events that happened there) by putting replicas of concert posters on the concrete support posts in the store. The Beatles concert occurred a few days before their appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show that I watched in my jammies. (I found it utterly incomprehensible. I had three older brothers who, like every other kid in the country, became big fans. As, eventually, did I.)

After being overwhelmed with retail madness I headed home. The traffic on the streets and the trails was quite heavy. Tourists were stopping without warning on their bike share bikes. A couple of Lance Mamilots tried to impress the word with their speedy and agile bike riding on the narrow Mount Vernon Trail. The annoyances were minor.

I made it home to watch the end of the baseball game and to re-lube my chain. Yesterday I removed the clipless pedals from Big Nellie. Today I remove the matching cleats from my biking shoes. I am an old school toe clip dude. Sue me.

Postscript: the piece of wood in my finger popped out while doing dishes tonight. All in one piece. That’s never happened to me before. It looked like a dark brown rice kernel. Ewww