I met my friend Charmaine one year on the 50 States Ride. This is an event put on by the Washington Area Bicyclists Association. The ride is 65 miles, 500 cyclists, 7 pages of directions, innumerable stop signs and stop lights, car traffic, 4 rest stops, and many, many, many hills. The idea is to cover all 8 wards of the city and ride on every road named after a state. (Please don't make Puerto Rico a state. Please!)
|Crossing Calvert Street at Sunrise|
|Lisa (R) is all smiles|
|Mary and Ed before the Start|
|This May Take a While|
At 9 a.m. we were led en masse down a long windy path to the side of Calvert Street where we waited patiently for the walk signal to cross the street and begin our journey to Wyoming. Once underway, in no time (about 3 blocks) I became separated from my peeps and was assimilated into a borg-like cluster of cyclists led by Dolores, a volunteer course marshall. Dolores, a blonde haired black woman had been trained by WABA in the mysterious art of following the cue sheet from hell. She had the perfect attitude to lead a group through spirals of city streets to pick off state after state, which is to say, she is a hot ticket. We had a great time riding through downtown DC, laughing all the way. Somewhere behind me my peeps were assimilated into their own rolling borg. Ed and Mary, who routinely skip the streets they ride every week, went hunting for coffee. They would re-appear between cups.
|My Peeps Are Back There Somewhere|
|Ed and Mary (across intersection) Seeking Espresso|
|A Little Crowded at the Intersections|
|On Case Bridge over Washington Channel|
|Justin and Kevin on Ohio Drive|
|Kevin at Anacostia Park Rest Stop|
|Little Bike Leads the Way|
|Lisa just before the Hills Begin|
|Somewhere on Alabama Ave (Dolores on Far Right)|
|The New Anacostia Trail Bridge Looks Spiffy|
Soon we were back on Capitol Hill and eating burritos at the lunch stop, where we met up with Rachel and Laura, two Coffee Clubbers. Rachel was working the event for WABA and Laura was casually riding around town and decided to pat us on the sweaty back for moral support.
|Rachel Doing Her Paparazza Thing at Lunch|
The northeast and central northwest parts of the city is where the ride opens up a bit. The streets are less inviting (particularly South Dakota Avenue). The turns seem less frequent; speeds increase. Idaho stops become the rule. Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Arkansas, Georgia all fall by the wayside. We picked up Ann, a young woman rider on a Trek 520 touring bike. As we were riding, the temperature gauge on my bike computer passed 90 degrees. My water bottles were emptying. This ride was getting serious.
Somewhere in this blur of heat and hills, we found a rest stop at a house owned by friends of Mary and Ed. I seriously needed some water and they had it in abundance. Perfect. At this point Lisa headed for home. She (and Jeff and I) were doing a ride the next morning so she wanted to leave something in her tank for that ride.
After resuming, Jeff and I nearly missed a turn. We were distracted by a tall woman with legs up to there walking down the side walk. This was decidedly not a glamorous part of town. She stuck our like Manute Bol at a Munchkin reunion. A rider behind us called to us and we made the turn to stay on course.
Soon after that I nearly missed a turn up near Silver Spring. No Manute, just fatigue. Dolores reappeared. Just what I needed. I followed her up a long hill. Down Alaska we sped toward 16th Street. We flew into Rock Creek Park which was shady and much cooler. What goes down definitely goes up, however, and we were out the other side of the park and climbing again.
A little boy ran up Beech Street and said "LEMONADE! NAME YOUR PRICE!" We couldn't refuse his offer. Cold. Wet. Sweet. Chug. Ahhh!
Fortified we wound our way through Chevy Chase, Tenleytown and AU Park. When we reached the AU rest stop, we could see clouds building. We made our stop a short one. Nebraska sloped down to a left on Arizona. The downhill route continued, but in short order we took an abrupt left and began a steep, bumpy climb back to AU. With legs of lead, we sucked it up and carried on. About 20 minutes later we had mastered our last three states, New Mexico, Idaho and Connecticut.
|Ann and Jeff at Calvert and Connecticut|
|Calvert Street 1/2 Mile from the Finish|
We had made an honest effort. We had earned our refreshment and our t-shirts.
Cheers, mates. On to the next ride. Up before the sun at 5 for the drive to Berryville.
Additional pix can be found on my Flickr page here.