You could not ask for a nice day to ride a bike. Warm, breezy, sunny and dry is an awesome combination. It’s a little bit of Vermont in DC. It was the perfect day to try out my new prescription sunglasses. I pulled Little Nellie, my Bike Friday New World Tourist, out of mothballs and headed out for parts to be determined.
We headed up the Mount Vernon Trail. Traffic on the trail on nice summer weekend days is usually pretty heavy but it was tolerable today. I decided not to press my luck and left the trail to cross the Potomac River on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge trail. The bridge trail was very crowded but everybody was polite and considerate so I made good time. On the connecting trail in Maryland I passed an interesting tandem bike, a Hase, I think. The stoker sits in front on a recumbent seat. The captain steers from behind the stoker on a conventional bike saddle with conventional handlebars. The riders seemed to be having a blast.
I pedaled up the half mile hill to Oxon Hill Road which is being completely rebuilt to the south. Not wanting to ride through the construction site, I turned north. The intersection at Oxon Hill Farm has been redesigned to deny a left hand turn. I couldn’t figure out how to get to the farm any other way so I turned left anyway. Take that MDOT.
I rode back down the long hill in Oxon Hill Park to Oxon Hill Cove. The trail through this parkland, owned by the National Park Service, is a mess and really needs to be torn up and repaved. (I will refrain from bitching about Congress and how it seems hell bent on turning our public infrastructure into East Germany 1978.)
One mile and a big climb later I was on the streets of Anacostia. As usual, Sunday in Anacostia means church and church goers dressed in Sunday best. I took Martin Luther King Junior Boulevard (is that the longest street name in DC?) down and up and down through the neighborhood. Instead of taking the 11th Street bridge over the Anacostia River to Capitol Hill, I turned instead into Anacostia River Park. I headed north, up river, exploring side roads here and there. A nifty new bridge takes the park trail north toward Benning Road. Coming toward me on the bridge was a chatty pack of women on bikes. Nellie from the Washington Area Bicyclists Association was at the head of the group. I recognized one of the riders as a regular Mount Vernon Trail bike commuter. She has a blinky light that swivels on the top of her helmet and a very serious bike commuting demeanor.
Since none of the women said “What a man!” as I passed on continued onward. I spent a few minutes trying to find the entrance to the Kenilworth Aquatic Gardens but only succeeded in finding the solid waste disposal facility for DC. Fail.
I crossed the Benning Road bridge and took the Anacostia Trail downriver on the west side of the river. Next I meandered through Capitol Hill where I took a break at Eastern Market. After some food and drink, I headed to the Capitol (because it’s there) and then up the Metropolitan Branch Trail. A left put me on the contraflow bike lane on R Street. (Contras make good bike lanes.)
My wanderings took me through a street fair of sorts complete with a farmers market and bike repair, because you need some peaches with your new brake pads. Up U Street where all the people who can’t get to the beach were eating brunch. I turned up 15th Street and headed into Meridian Hill Park. The park is usually filled with people doing acroyoga, slack lining, and hula hooping, and a very entertaining drum circle. Sadly the only activity was a bunch of people having picnics and an ultimate Frisbee game.
Up 15th Street to 16th I rode. Traffic got a bit heavy so I started to zig zag to the east and the north. I managed somehow to ride past the Tacoma Park home of Mike, the world’s most loquacious randonneur. (He and his wife Lisa hosted a rest stop on the 50 States Ride last year.)
I pushed onward into the confusion of downtown Silver Spring. If there’s a silver spring anywhere about it’s probably paved over or built on. I spotted a sign for a bike trail that eventually led me to the Georgetown Branch Trail which meant it was time to head for home. After spending a few minutes enjoying the view and chatting with people on the Rock Creek Trestle, I headed toward Bethesda Row for a bit of iced tea. After refilling my water bottles, I hopped on the crowded Capital Crescent Trail and headed for Georgetown and the Potomac River waterfront. The trail is downhill the entire way and the downhill combined with the tailwind to make this a perfect ride.
The river north of Key Bridge was choked with kayaks and canoes and powerboats and other floating things. DC sure likes its water. All this activity made the going kind of slow on K Street which runs by the packed Georgetown Waterfront Park. I pedaled along and was soon at the beach volleyball courts near the Lincoln Memorial. A couple of Park Police officers cruised at 5 miles per hour on the trail making sure that none of the scantily clad volleyballers were drinking or evil doing. As he drove the driver of the cruiser sucked at a Slurpee. (Um, can we move along guys? Please.)
With the help of my tailwind, I rode down Ohio Drive past several softball games (I saw two batters hit frozen ropes in the process.) As I rode across the Potomac on the 14th Street bridge my tailwind became a cross wind strong enough to lean in to.
The Mount Vernon Trail was as crowded as I suspected but the trail users were generally well behaved (an abnormality on a nice summer day, to be sure). As I cleared Gravelly Point Park I went to take a drink from my water bottle. As I pulled on the valve with my teeth something clicked in my mouth. It was a porcelain veneer crown on one of my front teeth. Bummer. Luckily I didn’t swallow it. Hopefully my dentist can glue it back on. (It was put in about 20 years ago so I’ve got nothing to complain about.)
In Old Town I decided not to deal with Union Street which is usually teeming with touroids on days like today. I rode down Royal Street where, in front of Saint Mary’s Catholic church, a couple was setting up a series of long tables with carvings of various Christian people and scenes. I found Jesus on South Royal Street.
Not wanting to take a couple of mulchy detours on the MVT, I took the Park Terrace Drive hill instead. I rode up the hill in the saddle at 8 miles per hour, twice as fast as on my recumbent.
I pulled into my driveway with 62.9 miles on my odometer, a metric century (100 kilometers).