Spending so much time at a standstill makes this an incredibly social ride. Riders strike up friendships throughout the course. The residents of DC, often accused of hostility toward cyclists, offer encouragement, course corrections, and sometimes food and water to the riders. Who says this city has no heart?
After last year's ride, I decided to retire from the Hell of the Mid Atlantic. Three times is plenty. It's too hard. I'm too old. Then came Florencia. I met Flor on my first ride five years ago. She seemed to float up the hills and, despite truly oppressive heat and humidity, she didn't seem to break a sweat. It was so gross out that at least one rider decided to take a dip in Rock Creek, which can't be the cleanest urban waterway in the world.
|Florencia, our social director|
|Wipe that smile off your face, Paul.|
|Richard, Florencia, Jeff, Amy, Paul and Veronica with my Sequoia in the foreground|
Mary and Ed went off with some of their friends. And Lisa with hers. The Florbook Seven set out together alone.
|Lining up for the start|
|Florencia and Veronica, with Paul, in yellow, behind|
|This guy hauled a music wagon with his massive bicycle.|
|On Corcoran Street|
|Florencia and Jeff|
|Richard and Jeff at a stop light|
|Paul near the White House|
|Richard near the White House|
|Florencia and her cue sheet - all 9 pages of it|
|Florencia and Jeff|
|My peeps pass the Archives on Pennsylvania Avenue|
We made our way out of downtown and across the Anacostia River to scenic Anacostia. That's sarcasm, folks. Anacostia is poverty stricken and the riding here is hilly. Up Martin Luther King Boulevard. Down Alabama Avenue. Up Stanton Road, Mississippi Avenue, and more of Alabama. The crew stopped for a breather but I pedaled on slowly not wanting to stiffen up. They caught up to me at a light about a mile later, all remarking on that last monster hill. Payback came on Massachusetts Avenue as we all glided at thirty miles per hour back toward the river.
We cruised through Capitol Hill and stopped at Eastern Market, near the half way point. Here Flor and Paul re-enacted some pictures I took five years ago. Somehow the only pictures I have of Flor from that ride are of her eating. She offered Paul some tasty looking chocolate, which was actually soap. Paul was tempted.
|Florencia eating - Are Powerbars food?|
|Florencia tries to poison Paul|
After eating at Eastern Market, Florencia and Amy decided to head home. This is not entirely surprising since we had already been riding for four hours. The rest of us, devoid of real lives, decided to continue on. We were joined by Tito who had been riding alone. Poor Tito was lonely. Now we were Veronica and Her Boys.
Since I was a three-time veteran, I led during some of the more confusing sections. Mostly I hoped the group would follow when I surged ahead to get some momentum for a hill coming up. Lucky for me, my legs seemed to get stronger as the ride went on.
|Veronica and Paul watch Jeff checking his tube.|
|Paul, Tito and Richard contemplate the universe.|
Well past the forty mile mark, Veronica seemed to have no problem with the hills. I took a shot of her over my shoulder. For somebody who expected to be miserable, she sure looks like she was having a good time. Maybe it was the fact that the cue sheets were running out.
The last rest stop was at American University. After that would come the dreaded Arizona Avenue hill, steep, bumpy, and long. Veronica steeled herself for the challenge while Tito called his next of kin.
|Veronica with Jeff at AU. No worries.|
|Tito on his smart phone.|
About 15 minutes later we arrived back where we started at Kalorama Park. We crowded into The Grill from Ipanema across the street and commenced celebrating. The boys were proud of their Lady. Richard seemed utterly unphased. We toasted our triumph with cold beer and ate some pretty darn awesome Brazilian food.
|Rookies no more!|
|Good food. Great ride. New friends.|