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BikeDC 2012 Report

May 14, 2012

Heart rate. Sweat. Pace lines. Personal bests. If these were on your mind Sunday morning then hopefully you weren’t in my proximity on 3rd and Madison – the start of BikeDC. Why a cyclist would want to bomb through this ride instead of enjoying car-free DC and Arlington Streets is beyond me.

My buddy Kipp made the 10-hour trip up from Charleston for this ride. I told him it would require every cyclist in attendance to negate his carbon footprint. Of course, I didn’t realize the magnitude of cyclists that would be joining us. Registration was a little chaotic. One tent was for per-registration bib pickup and the adjacent was for race day registration. It may have helped to separate the tents in an attempt to split the groups. No worries though. Shortly after attaching our bibs, the full 24-mile ride officially started.

We moved slowly onto Pennsylvania Avenue. We hogged the road all to ourselves and blew through every red light. Tightly surrounded by riders of all sorts, I was very confused why some felt it necessary to shout “on your left” and “on your right.” No kidding. We wedged through the bollards at Lafayette Square. Here out-of-towners made themselves known by snapping photos of themselves in front of the White House. As a local, I have no need or desire for these shenanigans. Tourists.

Tourist on a Bridgestone

Next we made our way onto Rock Creek Park. I pointed out the thin trail on the left I usually take to get to Georgetown. “Where?” Kipp asked. Exactly. But on this morning, the road was our trail. The crowd began to thin, allowing us to relax a bit, pick up speed, and enjoy the morning light and smells of Olmsted’s park.

Frederick Law Olmsted, the father of landscape architecture, believed parks were to be graceful and rejuvenating, separate from the intrusions of daily life including the exclusion of commercial traffic. Progressing back into DC and into Virginia along the George Washington Parkway, I was saddened that Frederick Olmsted’s legacy didn’t extend here. This parkway is one of only a few roads in the area banned for cyclists. Whoever thought a park’s beauty is best seen by car was blind. This stretch of hills along the Potomac was the highlight of the ride.

Just some minor bottlenecking…

We hit our first snag at the exit for the Iwo Jima Memorial. It appeared that construction had caused all but one lane to be shut down. Additionally, at this point we linked up with cyclists from the shorter family ride route. To control the flow, organizers had us wait until the lead pack returned from their loop around the Air Force Memorial. Some impatient riders decided the 5-10 minute was too long and started their loop back at this point. You know – got to stay at max HR, bro! Too bad, they missed a perfect opportunity getting to know fellow riders.

A loop up the hill to the Air Force Memorial, a final minor issue at the Roosevelt Bridge (somebody opened the roads too early) and we cruised to a finish at Walt Whitman Park. We spent the rest of the morning nursing well deserved coffees and muffins and recapping the morning’s events. Overall: great weather, great route, and great company. What’s next?

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. May 14, 2012 6:47 pm

    I’m glad to see you also enjoy the awesomeness of a thermos in a cupholder!

    • May 14, 2012 7:02 pm

      Of course, both stylish and delicious. Besides, everyone knows Gatorade is overrated.

  2. May 15, 2012 10:13 am

    Sounds like a fantastic day out – I’ll look out for something similar over here. I hear you on the Lycra-clad, carbon bike brigade though. Some people treat every ride like a race. IMO life’s too short and the scenery to pleasant for that sort of behaviour.

    • May 15, 2012 10:26 am

      It was fun, every city should do something similar. It’s quite surprising how many cyclists come out of the wood work when the fear of cars is no longer on the table – something for elected officials to keep in mind when debating bike infrastructure.

      As for the Lycra-clad, I can only assume their body suits were cutting off circulation causing the rush to finish.

  3. Nancy L. Seibel permalink
    May 19, 2012 11:10 am

    Though I’ve been in the area for 14 years now, I still am struck how tourist season impacts city transportation. My normal commute route takes me past the White House. Morning and evening, no matter how early or late there are groups getting in that postcard shot in front of the Obama’s house.

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