Anacostia Bikeabout

The weather here is so perfect that I could not pass up a nice easy ride. Well, it ended up being 65 miles. It was so worth it.

After taking in some smallish hills near home Deets and I picked up the Mount Vernon Trail near Belle Haven Park. In a few minutes we were on our way across the Potomac River on the Woodrow Wilson Bridge trail. Once in Maryland we started the long slog up Oxon Hill. The new casino is nearly finished. It still reminds me of a galactic cruiser in Star Wars.

At the top of Oxon Hill we turned east to head into the Anacostia neighborhood of DC. We needed to use the sidewalk because MDOT no longer allows left hand turns into Oxon Farm Park. The sidewalk was closed as part of the casino project. So we just rode behind the traffic cones against traffic. Just wait until a bunch of up-all-night frustrated gambler start driving around this monstrosity.

The ride down the big bumpy hill through the farm was fun. I did it one handed because I was trying to take interesting pictures. I did not succeed. But I didn’t crash so there’s that.

Once through the flat section of the park we rode up Blue Plains Drive, a road that gets steeper as you go. Not fun.

At the top of the hill we took a left on MLK Jr. Boulevard and rode it through the eastern edge of Anacostia. This is the lowest income area of DC. It also has the most violent crime. On Sunday mornings it is also the church going-est neighborhood.

At Good Hope Road we turned into Anacostia Park where we headed up the Anacostia River. This river was long regarded as little more than a sewer but nowadays it’s a gem. More and more people are coming to the Anacostia for its quiet beauty. After riding about a mile we came to the new (as in not yet officially open) extension of the Anacostia River Trail north of Benning Road.

It was clear from the get go that this new section of trail was really well designed. It is not meant as high speed trail. Rather than cut a straight path, it winds through the parkland on the east side of the Anacostia River. Some of the bridges have concrete decking instead of the slippery wooden decking used on the MVT. There are traffic calming design elements to keep Lance Mamilot and his friends from riding aggressively.

One section of the trail is on a sidestreet. I was shocked at all the new housing in this little Northeast DC enclave. The street riding soon gives way to a cycletrack! Woot!DSCN5627.JPG

Wayfaring signs make it easy to navigate the trail. Except for when the stop where the trial ends as it intersects the old Anacostia Trail system in Bladensburg MD.

We rode the Northeast Branch Trail up to Lake Artemesia. Just before I turned to get to the lake, I stopped for a deer. It just stood there only a few feet away. I think I could have petted it. Then it decided that I was a danger and turned and ran.

Deets and I ended up riding the old trail all the way until I saw an Ikea sign. This is somewhere at the northern edge of College Park. I checked my Google maps for a way to ride to Silver Spring but it seemed hopeless. We were going to go to Meridian Hill Park to see the disarmed Joan of Arc statue. (Somebody cut off her sword at the hilt.) Not seeing an obvious route, we turned around and rode back to DC. On the way back, I switched over to the western side of the river and rode the trail all the way to Nats Park. After cheating death on Maine Avenue I worked my way to the 14th Street Bridge over the Potomac and rode the MVT home.

Despite not actually being officially open yet, the Anacostia Trail had some serious traffic on it. Not much less than the MVT. When word gets out, it’s going to get a ton of use.

It’s only shortcomings are a distinct lack of water fountains and no obvious places to eat. All in good time I suppose.

I’ll let the pictures do the talking over on my Flickr page.

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