Today was the inaugural Cider Ride put on by the Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA). In the tradition of the Vasa ride held in early March, this ride was all about riding in the cold in order to partake of a warm, sweet beverage. Despite the fact that December in DC is not exactly or even remotely warm, the event sold out. There were three rides named after apples. I rode on the Honeycrisp ride which was 60 miles long. Another ride was 47 miles. The third ride was 15 miles. (They didn’t get any cider on the 15-miler. They were first in line for quiche though.)
The ride departed from Canal Park in Near Southeast DC. This park which also has a tavern, site of the after-party and an outdoor ice rink, is on M Street near Nationals Park and the Navy Yard. We headed out for a farm somewhere near Bowie MD to the east northeast of the start at 8:30. There was a fair contingent of people from Friday Coffee Club including new-ish Dad Justin, Ryan, and Ed and Mary on their scary big tandem (which does not yet appear to have a name. Dave, a veteran of this year’s version of the Hoppy 100, was working the registration desk. Nelle from WABA was also there working. (One of the ironic things about working for WABA is that you rarely get to do the rides!)
Off we went to the east, over the new 11 Street bridge into Anacostia where we took the first left and started climbing away from the Anacostia River. The Coffeeneurs were in a pack until gravity grabbed Little Nellie and me. Bye, everybody. I was fell in with a back of young women who were kind enough to suppress their snickers at the sight of a big guy on a clown bike. After about a mile we were on roads that I’ve never ridden on before. We were soon in Prince Georges County MD. Inside the beltway PG County is not exactly Shangrila, but it does have paved roads which were useful for this sort of ride.
We rode by the federal complex in Suitland MD. I pity the weather service and Census workers that work in that place. It looks like a maximum security prison.
On we rode, turning this way and that. I became separated from the ladies and fell in with a couple of ride marshals (volunteers who help the riders fix flats, find their way, etc.). My ride marshals soon missed a turn. I think we all thought someone else was paying attention to the directions. We got sorted out and back on course. The course itself had lots of rolling hills which kept us honest. Not having a map with me, I was utterly lost.
We crossed over the beltway and suddenly some of the roads started to look familiar. I think I rode on these on the way to Annapolis about ten years ago. We popped into subdivisions then back out onto mostly two-lane roads. Then we crossed the busy Crane Highway (US 301) and, as if by a snap of the fingers, we were are two-lane country roads. We passed fallow farmers’ fields, creeks, woods, and the occasional misplaced McMansion and soon found ourselves at the rest stop at the halfway point. Here I enjoyed some warm cider, some junky snacks (tasted great), and a brief conversation with Megan from WABA. I think the last time I saw her at an event like this was at the halfway rest stop at the Vasa ride in March. Megan is from Florida so cold is not her thing but she had four layers on today. As for me, the only part of my body that was cold was my toes. Before leaving, I slipped some toe warmers into my shoes. Ahhh.
We took a mostly different route back. It seemed to have few turns so the navigation was a lot easier. One road was a rutted mess. My back, already beaten up by the morning’s ride not to mention 150 miles of bike commuting this week was really unhappy. I survived. Somehow I was now in a group with three course marshals. How nice of WABA to provide such personal service. After a while a couple of the marshals peeled off to assist other rides and Chris one of the marshals that had been with me for the last 40 miles and I soldiered on. We made pretty respectable time too. Chris knows how to ride in traffic so we really didn’t have to worry about each other.
Somewhere around 45 miles we saw a lone rider about 1/4 mile ahead of us. We caught up to Katie, an American University student, and rode the rest of the way in. The return route included a ride-by of FedEx field (what a monstrosity!) and an unexpected climb up Southern Avenue on DC’s border. When we got to the top, we were treated with a long downhill back toward the Anacostia on Massachusetts Avenue. This downhill is part of the 50 States Ride so I knew it was coming but Katie and Chris didn’t. I’m sure they had a gas flying down the hill.
We made our way back over the 11th Street bridge and went to the after party at the Park Tavern in Canal Park. Pizza and hot spiked cider. Perfecto.
For a brand new ride, I thought this one went pretty well. It’s always fun to explore new territory on a bike, even if it is right next store. The downsides to the ride were few. It was cold and a bit windy but not nearly as cold as the Vasa ride or most of my winter commutes. A few drivers came very close to Chris and me. I think these close passes were intentional. PG County probably doesn’t see this many cyclists in one day very often. A couple of the roads could have used some re-paving some time ago, like maybe, 1974. These nasty parts were only about a mile in total length.
My thanks to Chris for riding most of the ride with me. And with Katie who lifted our spirits for the last ten miles. And special thanks to all the WABA people and volunteers who helped out.