Sunday, May 29, 2011

Why I Bike.- Flora and Fauna

It's been 3 weeks since Mrs. Rootchopper was run over by a clueless wonder in an SUV. She is getting better by the day.  I no longer need to help her move about, but the crutches and leg immobilizer are visual reminders that all is not right. She still has one MRI to go to determine the extent of the damage to her right leg.  Hopefully, her recovery will not involve surgery.  

Since she can move about a bit, I can get back to doing some extended bike rides. On Saturday the weather was splendid so I decided to jump on my bike and get a bagel.  Fortunately for the mileage junkie in me, my favorite bagel place is Bethesda Bagels in Bethesda, Maryland, 25 miles from home.  So I jumped on Little Nelllie and headed out.  After buying my bagel - everything with veggie cream cheese - and a drink, I headed over to my favorite dining spot, Rock Creek Trestle.  In years past, the trestle carried the Georgetown Branch Railroad over Rock Creek Park between Chevy Chase and Silver Spring.  Several years ago, this abandoned rail trestle was rehabilitated for use as part of the Georgetown Branch Trail.

What makes the trestle special is the fact that it is level with the tops of the trees.  The view, of course, varies by the season.  This time of year it is a sea of green.  The trail bumps out at either side in mid-span so that leaf peepers like me don't get mowed down by Lancelots.  After dining alfresco,  I headed home via Rock Creek Park, an urban canyon that runs right through the city. On weekends Beach Drive, the main road in the park, is closed to motor vehicles.  The ride through the park is blissfully downhill, crisscrossing the creek under a leafy green canopy.

Several miles into my return trip I ran into Claire Bangser, the daughter of some old friends on mine. Claire and I chatted up a storm She's about to embark on a bicycle adventure of her own. Check it out at her website.

Today was another nice day.  So I did a wicked good ride in southeastern Fairfax County.  This ride began with a short spin on the Mount Vernon Trail along the Potomac River. I made my way by road to Fort Belvoir.  After 9/11 the fort (really a large military base the size of a small city) was closed to unauthorized personnel which was a shame because it has some great road riding.  A few years ago it was re-opened to all (not a bad thing considering we're paying for it).  These days Fort Belvoir is preparing for its much expanded role, the result of the Base Realignment and Closing (or BRAC) that consolidated military facilities nationwide. New buildings, some nice new housing (the old stuff was pretty ratty), and many new roads are part of the BRAC changes.  Long story short, some of my favorite Belvoir roads were closed off.

So I left Fort Belvoir and made my way over to Telegraph Road which I took all the way back to Alexandria.  For about one-third of this ride, I had a nifty bike lane at my disposal. After that, I was left with the bumpy, crumbling, debris-filled edge of the road which, like so many other Virginia roads, has no paved shoulder. VDOT doesn't believe in them.

Eventually I worked my way back to the Mount Vernon Trail near the airport and headed home.  On a boardwalk overlooking a marshy area south of the airport, a cluster of walkers was gawking at something in the mud.  Ducklings!  Finally.  Watching ducklings and goslings mature is one of my favorite parts of bike commuting. I've missed most of this year's fuzzy developments because I have been driving my daughter to school instead of bike commuting thanks to Mr.Clueless SUV.

These little dudes were rooting around in the mud. If they hadn't been moving, I doubt anyone would have noticed them. Their camouflage is pretty impressive.  See how many you can find.

And so there you have it. Riding in treetops and gawking at ducklings. Two good reasons to get out on your bike and see what you're missing.

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