BikeDC 2012 Report
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.
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.
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?