Sunday in the City

My friends who live and bike in DC are always riding about doing fun rides all over town, riding to baseball games, sipping espresso in sidewalk cafes and riding to craft beer places. I hate them.

I live in the boring suburbs. Yes, we have good schools and much less crime but I’d much rather be doing stuff in DC than, say, mowing the lawn. (I’ll get around to it. Get off my case already.)

Early in the morning Kristen tweeted that she was thinking of doing a ride with BicycleSpace, a bike shop in the heart of DC. Then Ted joined in. So I said, why not me?

And I was off to DC. 

The Mount Vernon Trail was pretty congested. This did not slow me because I was taking my time and enjoying the perfect summer weather. The ducklings have fledged. The herons and egrets have finally returned. The skies are blue. 

Once in DC I rolled past the folklife festival on the national mall. It was big on China folklife this year. I made my way up 7th Street diverting over toward the Capitol to scope out the location of a meeting I am going to for work tomorrow.

I arrived at BicycleSpace to find Kristen, Ted, and Brook hanging out together. The ride was announced as an 11:30 start but we didn’t get underway until noon. While we were waiting Chris appeared. Chris moved to San Francisco several months ago. We had a good talk. He seems to be pretty happy. Actually, that’s kind of a forgone conclusion. Chris always seems to be happy.

Image

Once underway the 20 or so riders meandered east to the Metropolitan Branch Trail. We followed it past the Uline Arena, site of the first Beatles concert in America. (You could tell because of the huge black and white banner hanging from the side of the old hulk.)

We somehow rolled by Gaullaudet University and found the National Arboretum. This is a terrific destination and a nice place for a nearly traffic free bike ride. Unfortunately there wasn’t time to take in the herb garden and the display of bonsai trees. If you go, be sure to check them out.

We paused for a group picture near the Capitol columns. You can’t just throw out old columns. So you stick them on a hill in the middle of a park. 

Image

We went on a short hilly loop ride inside the Arboretum grounds. A BicycleSpace employee was leading us down a hill on his Brompton. He turned to warn us to be careful on the downhill and veered off the road into some rocks. Only his pride was hurt. (Pretty good controled crash if you ask me.)

Kristen needed to get back home as her two girls almost certainly were by now tying Dad up and pouring maple syrup on his head. (Actually, they are pretty cool kids and would never torture their father. Intentionally.) I decided to join her for the ride to her house.  I promptly took us all over creation and we ended up riding on busy Florida Avenue to R Street. R and its bicycle lane took us all the way across town to Massachusetts Avenue. There we began a loooong steady climb up embassy row. Kristen does this everyday on her ride home from work. We crested the hill at the National Cathedral and rode Wisconsin Avenue to Tenleytown. From there. Kristen led me through a maze of side streets and down an alleyway where she mugged me and took all my money.

Just kidding. 

The alleyway led to her garage where she parked her bike. I hung out at her house chatting with her husband who looked remarkably unharmed and her girls who I swear had halos over their heads. She tried and tried to feed and water me cuz she’s a mom. I still had 18 miles to go to get home so I turned down her offer of a cold Shiner Bock. (Makes me tear up just thinking about it.)

After about a half hour I headed back by way of Meridian Hill Park. It’s usually a pretty festive place. The drum circle was doing its thing but there weren’t the usual hula hoopers and frisbee throwers and such. I hung out and listened to the drums and admired the view of the beautiful gardens and cascading water down below in the southern half of the park.

Back on the bike, I rode down 16th Street to the White House to the 15th Street cycletrack and into the tourist fray on the mall. As I passed the Washington Monument a minivan pulled over into a drop off zone behind me. I heard one of its tires blow. Bummer.

I could feel the temperature drop as I neared the river. The headwind on the way home didn’t bother me. The puffy clouds and blue skies would not allow me to be grumpy. 

The ride ended up being 54 miles but it didn’t feel like it. Other than the Mass Ave hill, it was a pretty easy ride. The people on the BicycleSpace ride were friendly and well behaved. I think I’ll do another sometime.

Advertisements

Little Nellie, Big Ride

Bike Friday’s have little wheels and little wheels give a rough ride. That’s okay for commuting since work is 15 miles from home, but for longer rides it becomes a problem, especially with my problematic back. Whenever I ride long distances I take one of my other bikes which have a cushier ride.

Lately though Little Nellie, my Bike Friday New World Tourist, and my back have been getting along splendidly. I decided to take a day off work and go for a long ride. Since it was Friday, I headed into town for Friday Coffee Club. The ride in was uneventful if a bit slow. I had put 180+ miles on my legs in the previous five days.

I had a bowl of Cherrios and a banana for breakfast but decided to have a scone with my coffee at Swings in DC, because I am weak willed. After about and hour of gabbing, I hopped on Little Nellie and headed westward. I worked my way over to the new M Street Cycletrack. It’s pretty nice and extends one-way all the way to Georgetown. I like how there is a parking lane that separates the cycletrack from the rest of the roadway. I don’t like how several people treated it as an extension of the sidewalk or as a loading zone. And then there were two wrong-way cyclists. What is it about people in this city that they can’t clue in to the obvious.

Image

Near the end of the cycletrack I was joined by Jacques, Hugo’s dad. He was on his way from Swings to his home in Georgetown. As luck would have it, his house was on my way so we had a good talk for a mile or so. Once Jacques peeled off, I was back on solo mode. I followed Reservior Avenue to MacArthur Boulevard. The cars were going a litttle faster than I am used to so I used the cycletrack along the wide of the road. It’s a bit precarious because turning cars don’t expect to see cyclists when they are turning across the cycletrack.

I survived and made my way to the long hill after the Old Anglers Inn. It’s one of those giant’s staircase hills: riser, tread, riser, tread, riser tread and so on. After dancing with the luxury cars on Falls Road, I turned onto RIver Road heading west. River Road has a series of long downhills followed by long uphills. It can wear your ass out. I just plugged along. I made it through two lane closures with the help of flagmen that gave me defference to the cars.

After a long downhill to Seneca Creek, I momentarilly considered stopping for food and drink at Poole’s General Store. I’ll get some at White’s Ferry, I thought, not wanting to give up the momentum I was building on the downhill.

It was getting hotter but I felt fine. RIver Road becomes a shaded country lane after a while and I was in a world of my own. Then I turned up Mt. Nebo Road and the work began anew. This is another giant’s staircase but much more difficult than the one near Old Anglers.

I was relieved to make it to the top without dying. A short while later I came to a T intersection. I stopped and checked my cellphone for routing options. I decided to ride down to the C&O canal towpath and take that the last five miles to Whites Ferry. I was glad that the towpath was dry but not so fond of the occasional tree route that caught me off guard. I passed several touring cyclsts as I rode. None of them had front panniers just huge piles of stuff on back racks.

I popped out at Whites Ferry where I was to learn that the story and diner were closed. Uh oh. I had to wait for the ferry so I reached into my handlebar bag to check my phone for messages. No phone. Damn!

I looked and looked and couldn’t find it anywhere. I thought about it for a while and decided to head nack to the T-intersection some seven or eight miles back and look for it. I was down to my last half bottle of water and was starting to worry about running out. I passed a campsite along the canal. It had a water pump that was working so I, after testing the water for taste, filled all three bottles to the top. (The water in the well is treated with iodine so no worries about getting sick.)

At the T intersection there was no cellphone. I turned around and headed back to the ferry slowing for every object on the ground that might possibly be a cellphone. I found all kinds of rocks and poo, but no phone. I was pretty diligent when I came to a bump like the speed bump near Edwards Ferry. In several spots tree routes traverse the towpath. I hit a few of these pretty hard so everytime I came to one I slowed and looked hard. Rock. Poo pile. CELL PHONE!!!!

I had blown two hours and 15 miles looking for my phone so I needed to get rolling. The ferry only had three cars and me on it so the load/unload time was brief. The ride up to US 15 was peaceful. The five minute wait for the traffic light was annoying. I rode into Leesburg thankful that the big trucks didn’t roll over me.

There are plenty of places in Leesburg to eat. I couldn’t decide where to stop and I wasn’t all that hungry so I rode on. I banged a left onto the W&OD and headed east. Into a headwind. I am such a sucker for a tailwind that I didn’t notice its gentle assist on the way west. There was nothing to be done but grind it out with one eye on the clouds building to the south.

I as actually hoping for rain at this point. It would have felt great. Lightning not so much. I saw a trailside sign for a beer place but the clouds won. In Sterling I couldn’t resist the big BBQ sign at Carolina Brothers. I really don’t much like barbeque but my belly was all sconed out.

Image

Snarf.

Back on the trail I kept at it. I stopped again in Vienna for an Arnold Palmer and a Snickers bar. My legs were starting to feel it.

Pedal, pedal.

Since when is Vienna on a hill. Oh, Alps. Must be why they named it Vienna.

Pedal, pedal.

I saw a shirtless Mr. Universe walking along the rode. Dude was ripped. I offered to have his child.

Pedal, pedal.

(Just kidding about that.)

Into Arlington. I saw @Shawnofthedread ridng home from work. Do you know how hard it is to say hi when your mouth is full of Snickers.I wanted to tell him that I had just hit the 100-mile mark but all I could say was “Nom nom.”A little later on Fast Friendly Guy came by. Hi. (Snickers was gone.)

At the end of the W&OD I pressed the button to cross the street to get to the Anderson Trail. A sign above the button said this:

Image

I needed that laugh. Thank you, signage people.

Rather than mess around with the detour near Route 1, I doublebacked and headed up Commonwealth Avenue through Alexandria. It was a nice flat roll through the city. I caught only one light the whole way and picked up the Mount Vernon Trail south of town.

The storm clouds had broken up. The temperature had dropped into the seventies. The last miles were on autopilot.

117 1/2 miles. I was a bit beat up. My left hand was a little numb. My knees and back were a tad sore.

Pretty darned good way to spend a day off, if you ask me

Pix from the ride are on my Flickr page.

Chico Escuela and Little Nellie Turns 12

Chico Escuela and Little Nellie Turns 12

June’s been very, very good to me.

I spent most of the spring dealing with recurring back pain. I went to a physiatrist (i.e., pain doctor) and he gave me medications. He also ordered x-rays and an MRI. I switched to riding Big Nellie, my Tour Easy recumbent, full time. After a few weeks, and just before I was going to get a cortisone injection, the pain went away.

Rain and other circumstances led me to switch my riding to Little Nellie, my Bike Friday New World Tourist. It has little tires that send a jolt from every bump straight to my lower back. Riding this bike was playing with fire.

At about this time I switch from regular pedals to Speedplay Frogs. My pedaling mechanics improved remarkably.

I kept riding Little Nellie and, lo and behold, my back didn’t hurt anymore. If been binge riding my wee bike now day in and day out for 600+ miles. Today, I rode to work with the wind at my back and Little Nellie hit 12,000 miles.

June’s been very, very good to me indeed.

Obstruction Cleared

Obstruction Cleared

This morning before 7:45 the tree that obstructed the Mount Vernon Trail was removed. It probably took all of ten minutes to do.

It has been pointed out to me that both the Mount Vernon Trail and Jones Point Park are owned by the National Park Service. I believe that the city maintains this section of the park. Either way, leaving this obstruction here for five days is not the sign of a bicycling friendly city. A bicycling friendly city would make sure that it’s bicycling infrastructure is treated with the same urgency as any street in its jurisdiction.

Bike Friendly City Fail

Bike Friendly City Fail

Last Thursday our area was hit by strong thunderstorms. South of Alexandria, microbursts hit the Belle Haven and Belle View areas of Fairfax County and Dyke Marsh especially hard. The Mount Vernon Trail in this area was closed as was the adjacent George Washington Memorial Parkway. Within a day and a half the trail and the Parkway were cleared of obstructions.

This tree came down across the Mount Vernon Trail in the same storm. Unfortunately, for trail users, this tree fell in Jones Point Park just south of Old Town in the city of Alexandria.

The League of American Bicyclists (of which I am a member) designated Alexandria as a bicycle friendly city at the silver level in 2013. You’d think that getting silver level status would mean that the city regards the users of the Mount Vernon Trail with respect. Not so much,

The failure to remove this downed tree is testimony to what’s wrong with the awards. Alexandria tolerates cyclists. I have to wonder whether Alexandria would even merit bronze status without the Mount Vernon Trail, a federal government trail.

If the city thinks I’m being harsh, prove me wrong. Remove the tree. And the next time this happens don’t wait days and days until trail users call you out on your inaction.

Little Nellie and the Marshall Plan

A few weeks ago I read about an old plantation from colonial days called Marshall Hall. It is, or as you will see what’s left of it is, located a bit downriver fom Mount Vernon on the Maryland side of the Potomac River. I’ve been wanting to go exploring in that general area. Today the weatherman was kind so Little Nellie, my Bike Friday, and I set out to check things out.

We rode the Mount Vernon Trail to the Wilson Bridge and crossed over to Maryland. I swiped my hand through the lavender on the overpass on the Maryland side of the river. It smelled divine.

The half-mile long slog up to Oxon Hill Road is all too familiar. Once at the top we hung a right into the Oxon Hill Road construction zone. It turned out to be not half bad, mostly because the drivers were well behaved and patient. We continued past the strip mall and down the steep hill where we easily broke 30 miles per hour. Thirty on 20 inch wheels is a bit hair raising, I must say.

We followed Livingston Road which as a cycling route leaves much to be desired. There is no paved shoulder, the side of the road is often patched or crumbling asphalt, drivers were a bit more aggressive, and, well, the scenery is ugly. Once we crossed Indian Head Highway the route gradually improved. We re-crossed Indian Head Highway and the road became rural: dense trees, fields of grass, goats and horses, crazed survivalists shoot AK47s.

Okay, I made that last bit up.

They were uzis.

It’s hard to tell on Google Maps just which road leads to Marshall Hall so in a bit of inspired daring we chose to ride down Old Marshall Hall Road. After a couple of miles I turned off onto Barrys Hill Road which led us to (New) Marshall Hall Road. This was a highway with no one on it. (I looked for Bono but he wasn’t around.) Huge paved shoulders, flawless pavement, and not a car in sight. And it was flat. Ah.

I neglected to mention that the ride thus far had been hillier and bumpier than I am used to, so I was getting beat up by Little Nellie’s 20 inch wheels.

After 27 miles of riding we pulled up in front of Marshall Hall. It has seen better days.

Image

We took a side trip to a small graveyard for the Marshall peeps. The stones were flat against the ground and the inscriptions had been worn down by 200 or so years of exposure to the elements.

Image

I checked the sign at the entrance and learned that there had been amusement parks of one sort or another here for about 100 years from the late 1800s to the 1970s. No trace remains of that part of history. 

We spent a few momemts at the nearby boat launch and took pictures of the Virginia side of the river. It was hard to figure out what was what since this is an entirely new perspective. We were between Fort Belvoir and Mount Vernon.

On the ride back we took a slightly different route that allowed me to avoid about 1 1/2 miles of Livingston Road. Along the way I spotted an upside down turtle on the side of the road. As I bent to turn it back over, I saw the blood next to it. On closer inspection I could see that the shell had been flattened and the turtle’s insides had been crushed. No more snapping for this one, I’m afraid.

There were many, many hills on this ride but easily the hardest one was the long steep ride up Oxon Hill Road. This sucker is a beast. The shoulder is paved but the pavement is covered with the droppings of a cement truck. You have to earn this climb.

We did, but I was pooped. And my back was sore. So we headed home. 

Marshall Hall was a bit of a disappointment but I think it will be worthwhile to further investigate the roads down thataway. Once you get about four miles south of the beltway the roads are actually quite rural and the drivers mellow out.

Some pix are over on my Flickr page.

 

It’s a Skin Feeling, Captain

Take Me Out to the Ballgame

On Tuesday, I got creative with my bike commute and Little Nellie, my Bike Friday. I rode to work as normal, spooking a deer along the way. A deer on the run next to the road will wake your ass up in a hurry. During the day, my son called and suggested going to the Nationals game against the Lastros. I agreed to meet him at a parking lot near the ballpark. Once there, I folded my bike up and popped it into the trunk of his car. 

We entered the park and decided to go to the pavilion beyond centerfield where my 21-year old child assured me the beers were less expensive. While standing at the bar, my son pointed to a small leaflet on the bar. It had a rainbow on it and something about Gay and LGBT. Hmmm. Apparently we had stumbled into a gay bar. I don’t think this is what the song means when it says, “Take me out to the ball game.”  Then again, I could be wrong.

It was LGBT night at the ballpark. I looked at my son and he wryly said, “Who knew?” “Son, is there something you’ve been meaning to tell me?” 

We had a good laugh, but we did feel a little like Kirk and Spock on the planet of the gangsters/neo-Nazis/hippies — well, pretty much any episode.  (Ever notice that whenever the prime directive was involved Kirk went berserk interfereing with the society? It makes me wonder if Dick Cheney and W binge watched Star Trek reruns.)

After our unexpected cultural enlightenment, we decided go off in search of food. We came close by opting for half smokes at Ben’s Chili Bowl. My son loves them but I’ve had one three different times and I am convinced that the Center for Disease Control will soon ban them as toxic.

The stadium was oppressively hot and humid.The Lastros decided to take their time executing each pitch and swing of the bat. Four hours later the Nationals were victorious. I think I lost 10 pounds during the game. Rather than bike home, I rode home in the air conditioned comfort of the Millenium Falcon, my son’s bucket of bolts Mitsubishi Lancer.

Cycling Is the New GPS

A couple of nights later a microburst swept through the Belle Haven/Belle View neighborhoods between my house and Old Town Alexandria. I slept through the whole thing. The next morning I drove to the dermatologist. The George Washington Memorial Parkway was closed because of downed trees. The other main routes were gridlocked with overflow traffic. I thought I’ll never get to my appointment on time until I decided to just use my cycling knowledge of area neighborhood streets. I cut through one neighborhood after another all but completely bypassing the traffic snarl. Bikes rock.

I made it to the appointment with two minutes to spare.

The dermatologist seem very eager to use his freeze gun. He zapped five or six little irregularities from my face and knee. I think he enjoys watching me wince. I could almost hear a plant in the lobby saying, “Feed me, Seymour.” 

I am happy to report I am now doctor free for the next two months. (The ophthalmologst and the dentist are lurking in August.)

Cycling for Liquid Refreshment

Thursday night meant bike commuter happy hour at Capitol City Brewing in Shirlington. Since I was working from home, I rode up to join the gathering. The ride home in the twilight through the hills of Alexandria seemed effortless.

On Friday I went to coffee club in DC where I read Green Eggs and Ham to Hugo, the cutest two year old on the planet. I don;t think Hugo likes green eggs and ham but he’s pretty enthusiastic about blueberry muffins.

The ride home was pretty unremarkable so I won’t remark on it. Even with the assist from my son’s car I still managed over 130 miles of riding back and forth to work and events from Monday to Friday.

The Rootchopper Institute’s QE4 Program 

During the week I arranged to have a contractor come look at the house for an exterior re-do. While I had my wallet out, I managed to line up a new car for my daughter a few days later. (It’s a reward for getting an academic scholarship as well as free room and board at college.)  Cost estimates of both came in under my expectations. 

I was on a roll. Coincidentally, I needed an easy, short bike ride to keep from being a sloth today. So after riding a couple of errands, I rode five miles to my (not so) local bike store to look at a new touring bike. My three bikes now have a combined total mileage of 83,000 miles on them. I don’t think any of them is up to the task of a long tour. To my dissapointment, the shop had not a single touring bike on display. On the way home I rode up the long hill on Fort Hunt Road. A year ago this would have been a slog but Little Nellie and I made it with ease thanks to my much improved eating habits (fritters notwithstanding) and resultant weight loss. (I am wearing large t-shirts for the first time in over a decade. Yay.)

I am not thinking of a long tour this summer but I’d like to squeeze in a week-long ride if I can. And who knows where I might ride next summer if I retire. 

Transam? Bar Harbor? Blue Ridge Parkway? Natchez Trace? Lake Champlaign and La Route Verte? Maybe even a perimeter tour. 

The wheels are turning in my head already.

So It Begins

And with very little warning, we are now biking in hell.

Overnight spring hit the road and summer crashed the party,

I left home a little after 8, about an hour later than normal. My legs were dead from yesterday’s urban excursion. The air was thick with humidity. In short order I was in my commute trance. 12 miles per hour. Chain going zzzzzzz. You are getting sleepy, very sleepy. 

I look up and a young woman who reminds me of Katie. She smiles and says hello then is gone in the direction I came. Whoever it was my apologies for my response which went something like this: UH?

I rode across the 14th Street bridge to go to the credit union at L’Enfant Plaza. You’d think I’d follow my old bike commute route but my brain now equates the bridge with Friday Coffee Club. I was on riding counterclockwise around the Tidal Basin instead of riding along the river on Ohio Drive. All this meant was that I’d be riding with cars instead of dodging tour buses. The drivers in the cars were uncharacteristically civil and I made it to my destination without one tire mark up my back.

The bike parking was all filled up. This never happened when I worked there.  Something must be done. I decided to lock Little Nellie next to the scrum of bikes and make fast work of my trip inside. 

Little Nellie survived.

To head to work I rode the switchback bridge to East Potomac Park. Fellow blogger Mary recently triumphed over the tight turns on this bridge. I had no trouble at all. It helps that Little Nellie has itty bitty wheels. Mary was riding a big kid’s bike. 

Just for the hell of it, I rode the DC side of the river to the Memorial Bridge. Then it was up Memorial Drive toward the entrance to Arlington Cemetery. I took the trail that passes the border of the cemetery. Thousands of white headstones arranged in military precision lined up along the green ground. It’s almost as if someone planted a crop of white stones. It is a beautiful sight and a sad one. I haven’t been into the cemetery in 20 years. I should spend a day there sometime soon.

Up the hill toward Fort Myer and past the Netherlands Carillon. For some reason there are two minature sphynxes standing guard. Did I miss something about Holland conquering Egypt?

From this direction, I do not go through the Intersection of Doom. Nobody ran a red light in front of me. Nobody tried to kill me to shave a minute off their drive to work. It felt surreal.

My 5 pm meeting was canceled so I left the office at my usual time. There was nothing in my legs. Lead legs. An appalling number of people passed me. CaBi bikes passed me. It was sad. It was as if I had my own personal headwind. (Depeche Mode, eat your heart out.)

I started hearing an annoying clattering noise. It came and went. Finally I stopped to investigate. A lanyard had fallen out of my saddle bag and was draped across my front brakes. The metal clasp was dancing on the spokes. It it had fallen into the front wheel the wheel might have locked up. It would not have been pretty.

Near the airport an attractive young woman rode by, slowed and said, “Cute pin.” My brain, firing on all cylinders, compelled my mouth to grunt “Thanks.”  I am so suave with my repartee. 

It took me a full minute to realize that she was admiring the Sharrows pin on my saddle bag. This happened once before when Alex Baca introduced called out my Sharrows pin in Baltimore on the Tour de Port ride. We ended up doing several rides together after which she left town and changed her cellphone number. Savoir faire is everywhere.

The rest of the ride was taken up with all the clever retorts I could have said to the passing pin woman. You know, the kind of thing Sean Connery’s Bond always came up with. (“I’m Pussy Galore.” “I must be dreaming.”)

Little Nellie was behaving oddly. I felt like the bike was moving laterally beneath me. I stopped to check things out but could find nothing wrong. 

We made it home without incident. When I hopped off my bike, the humidity hit me like a wet sock. 

So it begins.

DC Counterclockwise – Sounds Like a Plan

Flor wanted to go for a ride today. The last time we rode was on a Sunday and she was obviously tired from working a double shift the day before. I expected that she might cancel today, but wanted to leave open the possibility of riding with her.

I concocted a plan. Since she lives in the middle of DC so I decided to ride around DC and wait until I heard from her.

Little Nellie, my Bike Friday, and I headed out for Old Town Alexandria at 9:30. I took the long way hoping to see some bald eagles at the Morningside nest. No luck today. When I reached the Woodrow Wilson Bridge I stopped to check my messages. Nothing. So I rode across the bridge and up the long hill to Oxon Hill Road. This hills seems like it lasts forever but that has more to do with the fact that there is little to look at but a gigantic dirt lot which will one day be a casino. (Oh, joy.)

At the top of the hill I checked my messages again. Nothing. I headed northeast into Oxon Hill Farm Park. After accidentally touring the park (the sign for the bike path is messed up), I headed down the windy hill to Oxon Cove along the Potomac River. I am glad I didn’t have to ride up this beast. It’s steep and long and the asphalt is a mess.

Once at the bottom of th hill, I followed a trail to the Blue Plains section of DC. Then I took some flat roads along scenic I-295. (That’s sarcasm.) The good folks in the military bar entrance to their riverside fortress. (Fun Fact: The Spirit of St. Louis was shipped here after Lindberg’s crossing.) I had to turn up steep Cheasapeake Street and ride through Anacostia. It being Sunday morning I was expecting to find  church-going folks walking to or from services. The streets were all but empty. They must have been home watching the World Cup or actually inside a place of worship praising the lord.

I left the urban scene and rode through Anacostia River Park, This was once all but abandoned but has now been discovered by people from both sides of the Anacostia River. The park ends at Benning Road so I crossed back over to the west bank and rode through the Kingman Park area. I rode a crooked line until finding G Street. This took me all the way to the railroad corridor that feeds Union Station. I banged a right and managed to stumble onto the Metropolitan Branch Trail. I stopped and checked for a Flor-a-gram but nada.

So I rode the MBT for a while. A long while. Then I ran out of MBT at Fort Totten. I checked my Florometer. A message. No go. Too tired. Sad face. I was going to pout but there were miles to go before I tweet. Or something Robert Frost might have said if he had only 140 characters to play with.

Northward onto streets unknown. I found Blair Road and decided that it sounded loverly. On I rode. Soon I was in Tacoma Park. Traffic was dreadfully slow so I zigged and zagged until I found Georgia Avenue. This was part of the 50 States route so I knew where I was. That was the good part. The bad part was that it was a high-ish speed road filled with Maryland drivers of dubious skill.

Georgia led me into Silver Spring, a town with a wannabe downtown. The roads are all torn up and the street grid is confusing. It’s a bit like Oakland without the class. (That’s a joke, son.)

After much searching I found some wayfaring signs and, after a couple of GPS checks, made my way to the Georgetown Branch Trail. The surface of the trail from Silver Spring to Rock Creek Park is a mess. I was all over the place trying to avoid gravel and irregularities that would have knocked me over. The Rock Creek trestle was a great relief. I stopped and took a selfie, because that’s what you do these days. This may be the only picture of me without glasses since i was 4.

Image

By this point I was starving. So I took the trail to Bethesda and ate two massive slices of pizza from Bethesda Bagels. (I plan on ordering bagels from Papa Johns tonight to restore the balance of the culinary universe.)

While eating I checked my twitter feed and found out that Kristen, another riding buddy and Friday Coffee Club regular – was having a picnic with her family at the Potomac River waterfront near Georgetown. They were leaving to head back home up the Capital Crescent Trail. I let her know that I was headed her way from the other end of the trail. She tweeted that I should look for her at Fletcher’s Boat House where they would be taking a rest stop.

The trail was busy as it always is on a Sunday. People were somehow being considerate and not being jerks. Father’s Day mojo no doubt.

It’s pretty much a gradual downhill road the entire way to Fletcher’s. I spotted Kristen sitting at a picnic table with her two grade-school aged daughters. Her younger daughter had taken her very first ride without training wheels yesterday so congratulations were in order. Her older daughter had recovered from losing her voice yesterday. So it was awesome sauce all around. Kristen’s husband appeared from out of the shadows. He was epo-ing so that he could pull the trail-a-bike with younger daughter aboard. (He denies this but I watched him push his bike back up a short rise to the trail as I left. Definitely, a PED man. Or it could be that he’d gotten into the massive bag-o-snacks that Kristen had in her pannier.)

After a 15 minute chat, we went our separate ways. It was nice to get a social fix. And to see some kids on Father’s Day. (My two are 19 and 21, kids no more.)

I somehow made it to the end of the trail, passed the Georgetown waterfront and rolled through hundreds of Dragon boat race participants milling about the side of the trail without saying a single cuss word.

My route took me pass the historic national beach volleyball fields, some odd looking white building with a guy in a huge chair, and the national cricket pitch.

IMG_0078

Across the river and into the circus that is the Mount Vernon Trail on a weekend. Other than a few MAMILs (middle aged men in lycra) behaving badly, I had no troubles.

After arriving home, I checked my Twitter feed. It turns out that I nearly intersected with five other #bikedc friends. Maybe I didn’t need a plan after all.

Floods and Bunnies and Goslings and the Ogremeister

It was Friday the 13th. A full moon would be risin’. First, we had to get the workday out of the way.

I left early for Friday Coffee Club. In the spirit of SharrowsDC, I fiddled with the cleats on my shoes. I moved them forward. I instantly became amazingly fast. NOT.

Even a child knows you can’t fake it.

The only way I can become fast on a bike is to be airlifted to the top of a ski jump and released.

The ride in was peaceful except for when the supermodels lined up and cheered me near the stone bridge. I awoke soon after. Sometimes on Friday’s I ride in a dream state for a while.

Don’t dream it’s over.

I had an eye out for snapping turtles but all I saw were my first three bunnies of the year. Yay bunnies.

I rode through flood waters at the base of King Street in Old Town Alexandria. And again on the trail near Daingerfield Island. There must be a hole in the river. Little Nellie didn’t mind.

Rats. I forgot my snorkel.
Rats. I forgot my snorkel.

Once I was on the 14th Street Bridge I could see the high waters of the Potomac. Muddy, fast moving, filled with debris. It must have rained like a bitch upstream.

Into the city, i managed to hit green lights all the way to Friday Coffee Club. That’s a first. As SharrowsDC might say, it was a perfect.

Friday Coffee Club was crowded again. I didn’t know about 1/3rd of the attendees. I got to play with my favorite soon-to-be two-year old, Hugo. Once he wakes up and gets a muffin in him, he’s a pretty happy camper. He was a hug machine this morning.

SharrowsDC: The Ogremeister
SharrowsDC: The Ogremeister

After coffee club I headed down G Street with SharrowsDC on my flank. Well, not literally ON my flank but kind of off to the side. He was riding his backup bike since he had his 223rd flat of 2014 on his new Ogre bike. I’ve never met anyone who gets so many flats as SharrowsDC. It’s absolutely uncanny.

He feels possessed.

The ride back over the river on the TR Bridge gave me another opportunity to see the big muddy.

Work pretty much sucked.

During the day it rained like a bitch. So the saving grace was the fact that I could have been out riding my bike in a deluge instead of pushing ideas around and around.

Then I got to ride home. The air was heavy like the bayou. This shoud have given me a zydeco ear worm but instead my head was stuck on Neil Finn.

They'll Soon Take Wing
They’ll Soon Take Wing

My possessions are causing me suspicion but there’s no proof.

I stopped under the 14th Street bridge to take some pix of some gosslings. These were about a month older than the ones I saw earlier this week. I imagine they’d be fledging any day now.

As I neared home a light rain began to fall.

I always take the weather with me.

The work week is over. 155 miles of bike commuting in the bag.

I’m taking the rest of the day off.