We’re Going to Pay for This, I Fear

The weather gods gave us some nearly springlike temperatures today. And no howling winds either. It was the real deal. 50+ degrees and sun.

I took Big Nellie out for a spin. I had no place to go. So I went there. I buzzed over to Fort Hunt Park, rode the 1 1/4 circuit and then headed north parallel to the Mount Vernon Trail. People were out and about. Kids were riding their Christmas bikes. Every other little boy said, “Cool bike!” as I rode past. (In a few years they’ll be saying, “Dork!”)

On a whim I headed over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to Maryland. The trail was crowded with walkers making their way toward Alexandria. The best part of the bridge is the spiral ramp on the Maryland side. Riding this on a recumbent induces glee.

On another whim, I decided to ride up to Oxon Hill Road. It’s a long steady grind but I made it without coughing up a lung. (Yay, asthma!) Once to the summit I decided to check out OHR which has been under much needed construction for most of the year. It is not yet finished but will be much improved when the crews return in springtime. I did a loop using OHR and Fort Foote Road. After that it was back down the long hill toward the Potomac River and the Wilson Bridge. I behaved myself and kept my speed under 30 miles per hour. (With a fairing this is a 40+ mph blast.)

I rode home on the Mount Vernon Trail slaloming through the walkers, runners and cyclists. I was so focused on not hitting anyone that I completely didn’t see my friend Judy who called out to me as I rode by.

I finished the ride with a trip to the hardware store for birdseed and a padlock.

On the way home from the hardware store I rode with my jacket zipped open. It felt like 60 degrees. I fear the weather gods are setting us up for a fall.

Got Kids, Get Kidical

I recently found out that there is a ride for kids coming up. It goes from Jones Point Park, over the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, down a spiral ramp, around a cove, over an unpaved trail along the river to National Harbor. This is fun for an adult. It will be a gas for a kid. So if you have a kid and a bike, check out the Kidical Mass Alexandria ride to National Harbor.

If you think “My kid can’t do that” consider this. My son did 13 miles of Bike DC in the rain when he was 10. He also did the Tour du Port, 20 miles on the streets of Baltimore at the same age. He had only a one-speed bike but he didn’t care. He was so proud of himself. He had a blast. Give your kid a chance to have a blast and do the Kidical Mass ride from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday, September 28.

Check it out here.

How I Found Jesus and Lost a Crown

You could not ask for a nice day to ride a bike. Warm, breezy, sunny and dry is an awesome combination. It’s a little bit of Vermont in DC. It was the perfect day to try out my new prescription sunglasses. I pulled Little Nellie, my Bike Friday New World Tourist, out of mothballs and headed out for parts to be determined.

We headed up the Mount Vernon Trail. Traffic on the trail on nice summer weekend days is usually pretty heavy but it was tolerable today. I decided not to press my luck and left the trail to cross the Potomac River on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge trail. The bridge trail was very crowded but everybody was polite and considerate so I made good time. On the connecting trail in Maryland I passed an interesting tandem bike, a Hase, I think. The stoker sits in front on a recumbent seat. The captain steers from behind the stoker on a conventional bike saddle with conventional handlebars. The riders seemed to be having a blast.

I pedaled up the half mile hill to Oxon Hill Road which is being completely rebuilt to the south. Not wanting to ride through the construction site, I turned north. The intersection at Oxon Hill Farm has been redesigned to deny a left hand turn. I couldn’t figure out how to get to the farm any other way so I turned left anyway. Take that MDOT.

I rode back down the long hill in Oxon Hill Park to Oxon Hill Cove. The trail through this parkland, owned by the National Park Service, is a mess and really needs to be torn up and repaved. (I will refrain from bitching about Congress and how it seems hell bent on turning our public infrastructure into East Germany 1978.)

One mile and a big climb later I was on the streets of Anacostia. As usual, Sunday in Anacostia means church and church goers dressed in Sunday best. I took Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard (is that the longest street name in DC?) down and up and down through the neighborhood. Instead of taking the 11th Street bridge over the Anacostia River to Capitol Hill, I turned instead into Anacostia River Park. I headed north, up river, exploring side roads here and there.  A nifty new bridge takes the park trail north toward Benning Road. Coming toward me on the bridge was a chatty pack of women on bikes. Nellie from the Washington Area Bicyclists Association was at the head of the group. I recognized one of the riders as a regular Mount Vernon Trail bike commuter. She has a blinky light that swivels on the top of her helmet and a very serious bike commuting demeanor.

Since none of the women said “What a man!” as I passed on continued onward. I spent a few minutes trying to find the entrance to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens but only succeeded in finding the solid waste disposal facility for DC. Fail.

I crossed the Benning Road bridge and took the Anacostia Trail downriver on the west side of the river. Next I meandered through Capitol Hill where I took a break at Eastern Market. After some food and drink, I headed to the Capitol (because it’s there) and then up the Metropolitan Branch Trail. A left put me on the contraflow bike lane on R Street. (Contras make good bike lanes.)

My wanderings took me through a street fair of sorts complete with a farmers market and bike repair, because you need some peaches with your new brake pads.  Up U Street where all the people who can’t get to the beach were eating brunch. I turned up 15th Street and headed into Meridian Hill Park. The park is usually filled with people doing acroyoga, slack lining, and hula hooping, and a very entertaining drum circle. Sadly the only activity was a bunch of people having picnics and an ultimate Frisbee game.

Up 15th Street to 16th I rode. Traffic got a bit heavy so I started to zig zag to the east and the north. I managed somehow to ride past the Tacoma Park  home of Mike, the world’s most loquacious randonneur. (He and his wife Lisa hosted a rest stop on the 50 States Ride last year.)

I pushed onward into the confusion of downtown Silver Spring. If there’s a silver spring anywhere about it’s probably paved over or built on. I spotted a sign for a bike trail that eventually led me to the Georgetown Branch Trail which meant it was time to head for home. After spending a few minutes enjoying the view and chatting with people on the Rock Creek Trestle, I headed toward Bethesda Row for a bit of iced tea. After refilling my water bottles, I hopped on the crowded Capital Crescent Trail and headed for Georgetown and the Potomac River waterfront. The trail is downhill the entire way and the downhill combined with the tailwind to make this a perfect ride.

The river north of Key Bridge was choked with kayaks and canoes and powerboats and other floating things. DC sure likes its water. All this activity made the going kind of slow on K Street which runs by the packed Georgetown Waterfront Park. I pedaled along and was soon at the beach volleyball courts near the Lincoln Memorial. A couple of Park Police officers cruised at 5 miles per hour on the trail making sure that none of the scantily clad volleyballers were drinking or evil doing. As he drove the driver of the cruiser sucked at a Slurpee. (Um, can we move along guys? Please.)

With the help of my tailwind, I rode down Ohio Drive past several softball games (I saw two batters hit frozen ropes in the process.) As I rode across the Potomac on the 14th Street bridge my tailwind became a cross wind strong enough to lean in to.

The Mount Vernon Trail was as crowded as I suspected but the trail users were generally well behaved (an abnormality on a nice summer day, to be sure). As I cleared Gravelly Point Park I went to take a drink from my water bottle. As I pulled on the valve with my teeth something clicked in my mouth.  It was a porcelain veneer crown on one of my front teeth. Bummer. Luckily I didn’t swallow it. Hopefully my dentist can glue it back on. (It was put in about 20 years ago so I’ve got nothing to complain about.)

In Old Town I decided not to deal with Union Street which is usually teeming with touroids on days like today. I rode down Royal Street where, in front of Saint Mary’s Catholic church, a couple was setting up a series of long tables with carvings of various Christian people and scenes. I found Jesus on South Royal Street.


Not wanting to take a couple of mulchy detours on the MVT, I took the Park Terrace Drive hill instead. I rode up the hill in the saddle at 8 miles per hour, twice as fast as on my recumbent.

I pulled into my driveway with 62.9 miles on my odometer, a metric century (100 kilometers).


Early Spring Ride

Looking out the window, the weather seemed dreamy.  I decided to go for a long Sunday bike ride. Just before leaving I checked Twitter and saw that my cycling friend Lisa just arrived at Mount Vernon about 3 miles from my house. I tweeted her to be on the lookout for me.

I interesected the Mount Vernon Trail  1 1/2 miles from my house. I turned right and in about 30 seconds saw Lisa coming my way.  I joined her for her ride back toward DC. Along the way we stopped at the Morningside bald eagle nest. Just as she dismounted behind me on the side of the trail, I pointed out the nest. No sooner had she said that she saw it, a bald eagle swooped in from the skies over the river and landed in the nest.

Lisa at the Morningside Nest

After the bird show, we resumed riding.  I kept getting far ahead of her because I was on Big Nellie and we were heading downhill. Big Nellie goes downhill incredibly fast. (Of course, going up hill is quite a chore, so all is fair.)  We stopped at the Belle Haven bald eagle nest but there were no eagles around. Next I showed her how to get on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge trail. Once she saw it she had to ride it so we took the trail over to National Harbor.

After gettting a drink at a coffee shop we wandered over to The Awakening statue. The Awakening used to be on Hains Point, but the Park Service kicked it out and it ended up in a cramped spot on a teeny bit of riverside beach. We posed for the obligatory pictures and started to leave when we bumped into Ted and Jean from Friday Coffee Club and their friend Jenny. We chatted and then headed out for Alexandria and lunch.

Lisa at Awakening

Lisa and Jenny at DC Cornerstone

We rode through Old Town and stopped at Buzz, a coffee shop and bakery on Slaters Lane. Here we partook of more chat and a light lunch (if you can call coffee and a cookie “lunch”).

Union Street Bike Gang

The wind was making a nice sunny day a little bit uncomfortable (just 10 more degrees and we are THERE, BABY!!!)  I headed home with a mighty tailwind. I rode onto my lawn and just managed to avoid running over the first crocus of spring.

First Crocus of 2013

It’s be here any day now.