Sunday, July 31, 2011

Hot and Fast with Nellie

I am still recovering from the back spasms that knocked me for a loop last week so I decided to go on a ride with my Tour Easy recumbent.  This bike is incredibly fast downhill.  When I first got it, I would freak out at how fast the decents could be.  I found myself yelling "Whoa, Nellie!" whenever things seemed to be getting a bit too speedy.  The name stuck and the bike is now Nellie;  Of course, I also had a habit of yelling "Holy Shit!" just before "Whoa, Nellie!" but I decided that Shit just didn't work well as a bike name.

Today Nellie and I went for a ride to Fort Washington MD.  This ride is made possible by the nifty bike lane that runs along the north side of the Woodrow Wilson Bridge.  If you live or visit DC, you'd be doing yourself a favor by riding across the bridge.  There are bump outs with tourist trappy binoculars for checking out the sights.  Most people ride over to National Harbor. The biggest building in National Harbor is the Gaylord Hotel and Convention Center.  Not surprisingly National Harbor is teeming with tourists who often where "HELLO" name tags.  It's a bit of a work in progress.  There are two things worth doing there. One is drinking a milk shake at Elevation Burger and the other is getting a shot of yourself sitting in Prometheus's mouth at the Awakening Statue.  This used to be in East Potomac Park before the National Park Service decided to have it removed apparently because it was more popular with tourists than the FDR memorial.  FDR would be a lot more popular if his statue was 30 feet high and you could climb on his head.

If you don't ride to National Harbor your only choice is to ride up a long hill to Oxon Hill Road.  Once you get to the top you can take a left into traffic hell or hand a right and head down to Fort Washington.  Fort Washington is an early 19th century fort that guards the capital from invaders along the Potomac River. It's basically a well preserved mess o' red bricks but for the little kid in you it's hard to beat.  Also, in Fort Washington is the Fort Washington Marina.  Since I had already toured the fort, I headed for the Marina.  It's pretty easy navigating: Oxon Hill Road to a right on Livingston Road to a right on Fort Washington Road.

Oxon Hill Road is a busy two-lane suburban street that has a paved shoulder that comes and goes. The pavement is a bit rough so it's not exactly a pleasant ride.  Just before the Livingston Road turn, there is a big down hill run.  Nellie hit 42 miles per hour on that sucker today and I wasn't even pushing the pace.  Nellie is really long so she's quite stable at high speed. Unlike conventional bike, recumbents keep you low to the ground which lends a street luge vibe to these little escapades.

There are quite a few rollers on the route so I broke 30 miles per hour several times.  The ride down to the marina being one of them. The marina seemed pretty dead so I stopped to take Nellie's picture next to a colorful boat parked in the lot. 

The downside to riding a recumbent is that uphills take a long time. Nellie has beaucoup little gears so she is up to the task.  Once again, we managed to hit 40 miles per hour on the return which is only fair since I had to grind up a couple of hills at 3 to 4 miles per hour. After one of these uphill fun fests it dawned on me that it was getting hot.  How hot was it?


I decided to be sensible and head for home.  I stopped for fluids and a snack twice on the way back and am happy to report that I am all set to do a nice long ride tomorrow. I'm taking the day off from work. I'm thinking of taking Nellie out for lunch in Occoquan.

1 comment:

  1. Hi John - - glad Nellie could help make you feel better and ride with you. :) :) I was in Cape Cod last week, and was enjoying lovely daily 60/70 degrees. :) :) Did about 170 miles riding around all over on my Brompton. It did great. :) Take care of your back....