Saturday marked the start of the Coffeeneuring Challenge, sponsored by Mary Queen of Caffeine. If you do a bunch of weekend bike rides to coffee places and follow a shedload of annoying rules, she dubs you a Knight of Espresso and gives you a pin. I can’t resist a gimmick so I headed out in search of my fix.
I hopped on Big Nellie and headed for the big city where the coffee is strong, the women are virtuous, and the men are above average (in their own minds). My journey took me along the Mount Vernon Trail for the four billionth time. Good thing it’s pretty cuz a guy could get sick of riding it over and over. I was cruising along at a surprisingly fast clip so I checked the tree tops for evidence of a tail wind. There was none to be seen. I gots legs!
As I entered Old Town, I came upon a couple of volunteers staffing a rest stop for the Ragnar run. This is a 24-hour relay that goes something like 180 miles. Too bad I can’t run anymore because this would be right up my alley. Through Old Town I rode eventually reconnecting with the MVT and heading ever north.
I turned off into Crystal City to check out the new painted bike lane on Crystal Drive. It looks marvelous. With the new bike lane and the renovated Clark Street (now renamed Long Bridge Drive), there is now a decent alternative to the MVT all the way to DC. Near the Pentagon I came upon some serious road work. They were cutting into the pavement down to the foundation of the roadway. No road riding here so I took to the sidewalk and the grass.
As I was taking pictures my camera ran out of batteries. The nearest drug store was in Rosslyn across the street from my office so I headed there, past Arlington Cemetery. Visitors were being allowed in to pay their respects which is pretty nice of the government seeing as how nearly everything else in town was shut down thanks to our profoundly stupid elected officials.
After procuring said batteries (he says in bureaucratspeak), I was off to Georgetown across the Key Bridge. M Street was bustling as usual but I managed to weave through the sea of SUVs and survive the ordeal. I felt a bit like a mongoose running through a herd of elephants. Don’t step on me!!!
I picked up the L Street Cycletrack and made fast work of it. I wanted to do a Perfect (a complete ride across town without catching a light), but my timing was off. I was treated to some shoaling by an annoying guy on a hybrid bike. He cut in front of me at two lights. Big Nellie was offended. We stepped on the figurative gas and left the guy in our bent wake.
My destination for java was Eastern Market where I dismounted for a house brew and a chocolate chip scone. The brew was mediocre but the scone was not half bad. After my snack, I walked through the outdoor marketplace making a mental note of possible Christmas presents as I walked. I decided to go for a cruise along the Anacostia River.
Finding the trail on the west side of the river was frustrated by construction going on near the 11th Street Bridge. I used my 50-States-Ride knowledge of an obscure alleyway to ride to the Sousa Bridge. On the far side of the river I found the trail alongside the closed roadway. The parkland was empty but for a couple of cyclists and an old man sitting under a gazebo.
At Benning Road I crossed back to the west side of the river and took the trail back toward 11th Street past the hulk of RFK Stadium.
Once back in southeast DC I picked up M Street. I was spinning along effortlessly and having a great time. A taxi cab tried to pancake against a line of parked cars but even that couldn’t ruin my mood.
I decided to ride down to Hains Point which has also been closed thanks to the brilliant minds in our government. Instead of riding the road, I rode along the sidewalk on top of the retaining wall next to the river. The sidewalk is a decrepit mess. Nobody wants to pony up the money to fix our national parks. I have an idea. Why don’t we set up ticket booths on the national mall. Sell passes to the Smithsonian museums and National Parks. Ten dollars a day per person. Five for kids and seniors. Maybe sell week and annual passes too. Take the money and fix it all up. This would have the added benefit of keeping down the visits from your annoying relatives who found out they can have a free vacation by staying in your guest room and going down to the mall for a week.
Now that we’ve solved some serious problems, we return to the ride.
As I rolled along the sidewalk, I watched the planes from National Airport taking off. They seemed to take an awfully long time getting airborne. The sidewalk in front of me dipped down with a fence on the river side to my left and a retaining wall to my right. I could see some mud at the base of the ramp. I got not more than 20 feet into the mud when Big Nellie’s front wheel slid out from under me and down I went. It was like falling on snow except the mud was much slicker and slightly warm. When we stopped sliding I went to stand and I couldn’t. The mud was a quarter to a half inch deep. I couldn’t get my footing. After a good laugh, I managed to plant on hand and a knee in the mud and carelfully extract myself from the quagmire.
Other than a tear in the underside of the fabric cover of my bike seat, Big Nellie and I were unharmed.
We rode out of DC on the 14th Street Bridge and bombed down the Mount Vernon Trail at great speed. My speedometer read “Lickety Split” so I know we were going fast. Gravelly Point park was practically empty thanks to the closed parking lot. Just past the park, I passed a couple of bike tourists who were finishing their ride from Pittsburgh to DC. They reminded me that my friend Lisa is starting the same trip today. Have a blast, Lisa.
I rode along Union Street in Old Town and spotted a bride with her groomsmen on the sidewalk. Did they ditch the bridesmaids?
The rest of the ride home was effortless. I can’t remember a time when riding 50 miles seemed so easy that I felt like doing it again right away. As a matter of fact, I think I just might.
For pix of the ride, check out my set on Flickr.
Place: Port City Java
Drink: House Roast. I’ve had better. The scone was good though.