A few weeks ago I participated in a part of what came to be known as the Hubs and Pubs ride. It was a ride from one microbrewery to another in NE DC and adjacent areas of MD. The ride was organized by Crystal, a new friend who fearlessly commutes by bike from DC to Tysons Corners in VA. Tysons Corner is traffic hell so this is an amazing accomplishment in my book.
As a sort of non-alcoholic follow-up to Hubs and Pubs, Crystal and Lisa, another FOB (friend of the blog), decided to organize a ride among shops selling hot chocolate. This ride would go from Dupont Circle to Penn Quarter to a newly developed area of SE DC to the spanking new Union Market in NE DC. It came to be known as Chocoride.
I woke up to find the wind blowing pretty hard with temps in the 30s. I had planned to drive to DC, but with the fierce headwind, I decided to ride instead, proving beyond a doubt that I have very little common sense.
As it turned out, The Mule and I had no trouble riding the first six miles. I hadn’t ridden in two days and my legs were fresh. I rode The Mule because it’s the easiest bike to lock up, being more or less conventional in design. I tried riding Washington Street through Old Town but the width of the road allowed the headwinds to slow me down. And the red lights didn’t help much, either. I bounced over to some side streets and made good progress. Just north of Old Town I rejoined the Mount Vernon Trail. In the sections near the river, the headwinds were challenging. I was expecting this, especially in the open area just north of the airport where treeless playing fields border the river.
I put my head down and spun my legs off. I actually had to unzip my jacket to dissipate some of the body heat I was generating. I did a U-turn to get on the ramp up the 14th Street Bridge. The inclined seemed not to be there. What a tailwind! Unfortunately, on the bridge itself, the wind was a crosswind hitting me from about 10 o’clock. It was all I could do to keep moving forward and stay upright. 8 miles per hour was the best speed I could make. Runners coming from DC were leaning to stay upright. They held their right hands on the upwind sides of their faces. As each one passed, our eyes met as if to say, YEEEHAAA! (Or, maybe, I’M A MORON!)
I took 15th Street all the way to Massachusetts then Mass to Dupont Circle. The group was meeting at a hot chocolate shop but I couldn’t see them so I checked my Twitter feed and saw that the shop was on Connecticut Avenue which passes beneath the circle. Which way should I go? I picked south and didn’t see a group of chocolate obsessed cycists so I backtracked and headed north. There they were just a block or two from the circle.
Five minutes later we were underway. Our first stop was a shop in Penn Quarter near the Verizon Center. Along the way we rode the new L Street Cycletrack. It’s a little quirky but I liked it. I could imagine how useful it is at rush hour. I had a hot chocolate with milk. It was JUST PLAIN AWESOME. I hadn’t had real hot chocolate in ages. WOW.
Back on the bike, we headed via Pennsylvania Avenue to Capitol Hill then south into SE DC. We stopped at another shop near the new skating rink. Here I had an Americano which was pretty mediocre. It was, however, warm and that’s pretty much all I cared about.
Next we headed up 6th Street through Capitol Hill and the gentrifying neighborhoods of DC. This city is really on the rise. House after house had been renovated and spiffed up. After a few miles we arrived at Union Market, a newly re-purposed market space that was abuzz with activity. Speaking of buzz, I had more coffee, And an orange and cranberry scone.
We dawdled for a long time. Looking out the window I could see a U.S. flag stiff in the wind. We were heading into the teeth of that to get back to our starting point. Crystal and Lisa took us on a seemingly random path that ended up purposefully at the Metropolitan Branch Trail. We took the MBT north to R Street and followed the R Street bike lanes all the way back to the start. The buildings shielded us from the worst of the headwinds so the ride back was not nearly as difficult as expected.
After hugs and thank yous, I head back home. The wind was now relentlessly pushing me. Even the ride across the river was easier since now the wind was hitting me from 4 o’clock. Once on the MVT, I cruised at 16 or 17 miles per hour with little effort. South of Old Town I left the trail earlier than usual. This entailed riding up a big hill, but with the wind at my back the ride up was no problem.
I pulled into the driveway with 42.5 miles on the odometer. Not half bad for a cold Sunday in December. What a nice way to end a year in the saddle, riding and hanging out with my new friends from the DC biking community. Many thanks to Crystal and Lisa for organizing and leading this ride.