I needed a grease injector to service my pedals. It’s a bit of a mess trying to do it with a baby medicine injector. Not enough oomph in the lilttle plastic plunger.
My local bike store doesn’t sell them but Performance does. I could have ordered it online but that would have taken away a prefectly good excuse to ride over to their Springfield store. A couple of weeks ago, friend of the blog, bike commuter, and Friday Coffee Club devotee Reba told me that Mulligan Road was now open.
Mulligan Road is the new road that connects US 1 with Telegraph Road near Fort Belvoir. Woodlawn Road used to serve this purpose but the military closed it for security reasons after the 9/11 attacks. Traffic has been a mess ever since. In true Washington area style it only took 13 years to fix the problem.
The road seems to have been recently renamed, Jeff Todd Way. Jeff Todd was a local businessman who was very active in the community. He died in a car crash in 2011.
Whatever the name, it was time to check out the road on two wheels. Big Nellie got the call. I stepped out of the house and was smacked by searing heat. Labor Day may be the first day of meteorological autumn but somebody forgot to tell the weather gods.
To get to the new road, you ride the Mount Vernon Trail to the end at Mount Vernon. Then you keep going down the Mount Vernon Memorial Highway all the way to US 1. At US 1 you’ll see a mess of road construction which will soon be cleared up. Cross US 1 and you are are on the old Mulligan Road. It has been moved a bit to the south and widened. (The old entrance to Woodlawn Plantation has been removed. Access is now available from US to the south. Good luck with that if you are on a bike.)
In a half mile you come to Pole Road. This used to be the end of the line for Mulligan Road, but not anymore. A new road winds up (and I do mean up) through Fort Belvoir. It’s a four lane highway with a 40 mile per hour speed limit. The road isn’t quite done yet. For one thing it needs another layer of asphalt to make the road bed even with the concrete edge of the road. The right lane seems extra wide which I hope means there will be a bike lane.
Up, up, up. Put me in the zoo.
After cresting the hill, you get a nice reward descending through broad curves until you start to ride up again to Telegraph Road. Telegraph is a bit of a mess heading south. The hill you just came down now goes back up, and then some. There’s no bike lane (yet) so it’s just you and the constant flow of impatient drivers yearning to get to I-95 and go absolutely nowhere.
Just before the crest of the hill there is a sign saying “End of Bike Lane” which suggests that maybe there is supposed to be one. Not 30 yards later a new bike lane begins. Signage is not VDOT’s strong suit. This bike lane continues all the way to US 1 south of Fort Belvoir. I turned right at Beulah Road expecting to do battle with heavy car traffic but to my surprise I was given a bike lane of my very own. Yay! It continued all the way through Kingstowne to the Franconia Springfield Parkway. (It wasn’t actually my own. It was used by a man driving a car while messing with his smartphone. He kept weaving all over the road. I caught up to him at a red light and yelled at him to put the damned thing away before he killed somebody.)
I could have taken a side path all the way to Performance but the wide paved shoulder on the Parkway was too nice to pass up.
Mission accomplished thanks to the folks behind the Fairfax County Comprehensive Bicycle Plan.
The ride back was more better because the other side of Telegraph was in much better shape including an on-road bike lane. I turned right onto Mulligan/Todd and saw a wide side trail. I do hope this is not going to replace on on-road bike lane because the right lane is extra wide and can easily accomodate a bike lane.
Ever notice how the ride back seems so much faster once you know where the roads go? I flew down the long hill on Mulligan and zoomed right across Pole Road without so much as recognizing it.
Mulligan/Jeff Todd will be finished soon. I have sent a note to Adventure Cycling so that they may consider adding it to their Atlantic Coast route.
I took a whole bunch of pix so you can see for yourself over on my Flickr page.