Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Bike Commute 95: I Don't Wanna Climb

The fall event riding season fast approaches and despite logging a gajillion miles this year I am feeling woefully slow and old.  And that's before I get on my bike. A summer of too many Yeunglings, I'm afraid.

One of the fall events is the Hell of the Mid-Atlantic.  This ride is officially called the 50 States Ride  The route careens around the District of Columbia like a drunk with the whirlies.  It's a concept ride.  Roads bearing the names of all 50 states in all 8 wards of the city are included.  Only in DC is Rhode Island big and Texas tiny.  It's actually a very clever 63-mile route mapped out by the Chief Masochist at the Washington Area Bicyclists Association . As you do the ride you go to every nook and cranny in the city.  It really gives you an appreciation for the economic, social, ethnic, and topographical diversity of the city. 

Did I mention topography?  Let me put it this way.  DC is a lot hillier than you think.  And at the bottom of every hill is a red light.  So when you do this ride you pretty much start climbing hill after hill after hill from a dead stop.  I am once again doing this ride with my friends Jeff and Florencia. Jeff is a triathlete.  He is nice enough to go slow so that he can chat with me while I am gasping for air.  He drinks fruit smoothies during rides. Florencia is a rock climber who also does acroyoga. Basically she is unaware that gravity is a law of nature. She climbs hills on a bike like a spider on a wall. I climb hills on a bike like a bison with lumbago. I am thinking of bringing a lasso and throwing it around her on Kansas Avenue so that she can tow me to the top. She only eats almonds during rides.

This is all to say that I decided the other day that I should add a hill or two to my commute so that I can prepare for this joyful event.  I read somewhere that Beacon Hill is the biggest hill between DC and Richmond.  I doubt that this is true but it is a challenging climb.  And since it is a ridgeline you can climb it on a variety of streets. Today I chose the most direct route, Park Terrace Drive. I have no idea what the elevation gain is but it takes me 5 minutes to get up this bitch.  (There are a half dozen nearby streets that go even higher up and are steeper but I will leave them til next week.)

As I was coming home I enjoyed the flat, calm and scenic ride along the Potomac for 12 miles. 

Ah, the Mercifully Flat River
As if to get me revved up for the hill to come, I had to cross the George Washington Parkway at rush hour. The Park Service cleverly place a traffic island in the middle of the road so I could wait for 10 of 20 thousand speeding cars to rush by.  Without this island I'd either still be out there waiting or lying on the side of the road with the rest of the flattened critters.

I made it across thanks to an act of God. Then I hit the hill. I swear it's a big hill. See, can't you tell.

Hey, wait. That looks easy.  Damned camera. Try this picture instead.

Okay. So maybe it doesn't look like much of a hill, I can assure you that cameras can be deceiving.

I figure if I ride this every day for three weeks, I'll be in great shape to tackle Alabama Avenue SW.  Sadly there is another 50 miles of hills after that.  I may end up dead on the road in Anacostia but I'll be damned if I'm going to my grave with a fruit smoothie and a fistful of almonds in my belly.  If you put your ear next to my mouth, you'll no doubt hear me say, "Ice cold Yeungling" just before I die.

1 comment:

  1. Oh yea, the Park Terrace Hill - ugh. That was my "winter route" when the bike path was snowed/iced over. At least you have pretty houses to look at while you're SLOWLY going up. :)