Sunday, May 13, 2012

BIke DC on Fumes

Yesterday's 50 mile jaunt took a lot out of me. I spent the night dealing with leg cramps and barely getting any sleep. I got up at 5:30, snarfed a small bowl of Frosted Flakes, grabbed a banana and headed for DC aboard the Sequioa.  I stopped briefly at the Morningside bald eagle nest but didn't see any birds.  I took my time getting to Old Town and rode with the minimal car traffic up Washington Street. I saw many bikes either on the road ahead of me or on the backs of cars.  After picking up the Mount Vernon Trail a cyclists passed me. "Riding Bike DC?" he asked. I said, "Yes" and he let out a yelp and sped ahead.

Near the airport a couple of roadies passed me by so I picked up the rear wheel of the second guy and off we went at 18-19 miles per hour.  They dropped me at the 14th Street Bridge but I appreciated the tow. In the city there was hardly any car traffic so making it to the start was a breeze. 

The start was chaotic.  Nobody was directing people to the registration tables so we all fended for ourselves. I was given a t-shirt ticket (for after the ride), a BikeDC sign to stick to the front of my bike, and a map of the short course even though I asked for a different one. Oh, well. I'll just follow the crowd.

I quickly hooked up with a woman of a certain age who's husband was out of town. I wished her a happy Mothers Day and we chatted our way for the next five miles.

The start began without an announcement and we were off. On Pennsylvania Avenue I spotted fellow blogger K. C. who rode the Police Unity Tour from Richmond to DC the last three days.  I yelled "BETTY!" which is the name of her cruiser bike and she waved.

We rode up into Rock Creek Park. It was cooler in the canyon.  What a shame the road is not closed to traffic more often.  It was a beautiful ride.

Back out of RCP we wound our way through Foggy Bottom to a rest stop. Rest stop? We've only gone a few miles!  A volunteer handed me a banana as I rolled by and I left the stop without stopping. Into the E Street tunnel and out onto the Roosevelt Bridge which was a bit of a surprise since I thought we'd be riding over Key Bridge as we had the last time I did this ride.

On the Virginia side of the river we rode north on the GW Parkway. This uphill stretch was quite fun as we climbed to and above the treetops.  I stopped at an overlook and enjoyed the view of the river and the DC Palisades.  Back on the bike, I noticed that the view over the guardrail was spectacular.  Too bad we blast by this in our cars.

We turned around and sped back the way we came.  I kept looking for people I knew but saw no one.  I was riding alone at this point so I was missing the vibe of chatter that I am used to from these kinds of rides. 

We passed Rosslyn and then doubled back on US 50 to take the exit near the Iwo Jima Memorial.  A left hand turn took us to the road along side Arlington Memorial Cemetery where we (and I mean at least 200 cyclists) were stopped and turned around. I was told there had been a nasty accident, two cyclists collided head on near the bottom of the hill.  So hundreds of cyclists found themselves riding into hundreds of cyclists. Brilliant!

We ended up somehow back on the Roosevelt Bridge salmoning the throngs who had started long after us. On the DC side there were no course marshals to guide us so I followed the lost souls in front of me and we meandered through Foggy Bottom to that first rest stop which turned out to be the finish. (We should have gone into the E Street tunnel instead),

I've done Bike DC several times and I can't remember when it went off without a major snag,  It was a beautiful day. The event got me out of bed and on the bike.  The Parkway was nice.  As was Rock Creek Park.  I think I'm done with Bike DC though.  I prefer the anarchy of the 50 States Ride or just a long ride in the country. 

The ride home was on impulse power.  Since it is my commute I was on auto pilot. I ate an early lunch and some ice cream, laid down on the couch, pulled on a snuggie, turned on a basketball game, and fell into a deep sleep.

Off to see The Avengers with my wife and kids. All my wife wants for Mothers Day is Robert Downey, Jr.
We aim to please.


  1. Pity the ride turned into a bit of a shambles....but as you say the event got you out of bed and on the bike.


  2. Oh my gracious. We heard about a nasty collision between a female cyclist and child while were at the Air Force museum. I wonder if that was the same wreck.

  3. I was part of the turnaround, though I never got an explanation for it. By the sounds of things, it was a complete mess for those who continued. There was construction on Rte 110 that forced everyone into one lane, meaning the people returning from the USAF Monument had to share space with those heading toward it. I suspect this was the root cause of the collision you speak of.

    $40 is a good amount of money for a 24-mile ride shortened to 19.5. I think I'll pass next year.

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  5. Sorry the ride had the problem. But thank you so very much for the delightful phrase "salmoning the throngs"---wonderful!!

  6. I was in that pack that got turned around too. And in the pack that missed the E Street tunnel on the way back... I figured we made a wrong turn when we were in traffic, waiting for lights, etc.

    I think part of the problem was going into Rosslyn riders were supposed to be on the left side of the road all the way to the Air Force Memorial and back. The group I was following all went to the right side of the road before we were turned around. Eventually, because everyone was on the wrong side of the road, riders would have to cross streams, so a crash was imminent.

    On my way home they had (apparently prematurely) shut down the Roosevelt Bridge to bicyclists so as I made my way to the Bridge bike path I was greeted by a couple hundred bikes going the opposite direction on that tiny sidewalk of a path. I turned around and made my way down to the Memorial Bridge, cut through the grass in VA heading toward Rosslyn (there's make-shift worn dirt path there), jumped back on the Bike DC route where they had opened up the route down the to Air Force Memorial again.

    So I eventually got to ride the whole route...just a bit out of order. Can't beat the weather. And the Rock Creek and GW Parkway sections were fantastic. I heard the number of volunteers was a bit low, but I can't help but think adding better signage would have helped with the issues I saw. But all in all was still a fun day.

    1. I didn't get caught up in the re-opening of the Roosevelt Bridge. Frankly, I am astounded that the police opened it when they did. I was probably wandering around Foggy Bottom with a bunch of other participants looking for the finish line.