We’d heard the sound before, a growliing, barking, bleating sound. We could never figure out what it was. This morning before sunrise we heard it again. We had already lost an hour of sleep to the shift to daylight savings time so Mrs. Rootchopper and I were not amused. We sprang from the bed to see what was the matter (with appologies to Clement Moore). In the dim pre-dawn light my wife spotted the culprit, a fox on the lawn beneath our bedroom window.
Well, now that I was awake, I stayed awake. I did the usual Sunday morning things and bided my time until the temperature was well into the 40s. Then I jumped on BIg Nellie and headed out.
I took the Mount Vernon Tral heading towards DC. I expected it to be crowded but I was surprised to see it was not. The worst of the crowding usually occurs between Old Town Alexandria and DC so on the north side of Old Town I changed course, picking up the parallel route through the old rail yard (now a massive mixed use development), Crystal City and the edge of the Pentagon parking lots.
I entered DC on the Memorial Bridge and rode carefully through the hoards of tourists visiting Abe. A school kids’ band played the national anthem as I rode past. My travels took me north into Rock Creek Park. The trail in Rock Creek Park is crappy on just about every level you can think of. At Pierce Mill I left the trail and rode on Beach Drive which is closed to vehocular traffic on the weekends. The ride north is gradually uphill but i didn’t care because even with no leaves on the trees, Rock Creek Park is a thing of beauty.
As usual, I made my way to the Georgetown Branch Trail that crosses the park on an old railroad trestle. I love it up there above the tree tops with the creek and the miniature runners and bicyclists on the rail far below.
After a brief respite, Big Nellie decided I was hungry so we rode the Georgetown Branch Trail to Bethesda Row. The trail is unpaved. Usually, this time of year it’s an icy and muddy mess but today it was in excellent shape.
I parked Big Nellie next to an amazing cargo bike. The frame said Bicycle Maximus on it. I bought an everything bagel with veggie cream cheese and a coffee and chilled on a bench and watched the Bethesdans do their Bethesdings.
Refreshed, refueled and caffeinated, we took off down the Capital Crescent Trail. The first two miles were a slalom course around walkers, dogs, cyclists, runners, one fish, two fish=, red fish, blue fish.
The best way to ride a long wheel base recumbent is down a long, smooth, gradual hill. As luck would have it, that’s exactly what the Capital Crescent Trail has to offer. We cruised at high-ish speeds making sure not to freak the other trail users out. (All day today, i saw little kids stare with open mouths at Big Nellie. “Awwwwesommme.” )
Instead of heading back on the Mount Vernon Trail I took Water Stereet to K Street and rode straight across downtown DC. I picked up Mass Ave and took that past Union Station into Capitol Hill. I took a right and picked up the bike lane on 11th Street and rode that straight to the Anacostia River. The 11th STreet Bridge is being reconfigured. The renovation gives 11th Street a river crossing separated from freeway traffic. Even with a mess of construction it was a pretty sweet crossing. The bridge drops 11th Street directlu onlt Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard.
MLK brings a series of long uphill slogs. Even thoughg it is hilly and bum[y and goes through some of the poorest areas of DC, MLK is riot of activity on Sundays. At South Capitol Street I took a left and headed toward the Wilson Bridge. South Capitol becomes Indian Head Highway in Maryland. A new access road has been built that makes for a more direct route to the bridge. After yet another long climb I came to the top of a hilland turned right for a high speed descent on near virgin pavement.
The trail to the bridge and across the river was busy but we had no troubles weaving among the folks out enjoying the warm sunny day.
In Virginia I headed into the throngs on the Mount Vernon Trail through Belle Haven Park. Two junior high aged kids were taking up the entire trail while going so slow i had to ride my brakes. Suddenly, they both stopped in the middle of the trail. I barked something at them. “Sorry.”
The next mile was slow going. Mom, Dad, and daughter were out on their bikes for what was probably the first time. For the second time in a mile, dead stop in the middle of the trail. I can count on one hand the number of times this has happened to me in the last year but today it happened twice in a quarter of a mile. Argh.
A few hundred yards later a litle girl on what had to be her Christmas bike all pink and tassled veered directly into my path. All I could think of was what happens when she meets Mom, Dad, and daughter or the two middle schoolers. It won’t be pretty. (Digression: if you have a kid who is still learning to ride a bike, DON”T TAKE THEM ON A BUSY BIKE TRAIL. They can’t handle it. They endanger themselves and others. I know the trail is there for everyone’s use but you don’t take a new driver on the beltway at rush hour. They don’t want to ride point to point anyway. They want to ride in circles and off the pavement into the grass and such. Take them to a parking lot like the one underneath the Wilson Bridge.)
The kids I could handle but my asthma kicked in around this time. I think the tree pollen triggered it. I was only four miles from home so I didn’t bother with my inhaler.
I rolled into home after 56 1/2 miles of smooth sailing. My windpipe was a mess and my left knee was pretty unhappy but the rest of me was all smiles. I finished my longest ride of the year on a fabulous early spring day. And there’s still plenty of light left.