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50 States

September 23, 2012

I apologize for the image-less post.  Perhaps one day someone will invent a pocket-sized phone that has an 8 megapixel camera on it so you can carry it around all the time.  Until that day comes check out @DailyRandonneur ‘s and @GypsyBug’s always great photo streams. 

WABA’s 50 States Ride has cyclists tour across all 50 State-named streets throughout the 8 Wards of DC.  This 65+ mile ride has been described to me as legendary, anarchy, chaos, amazing, and a rite of passage for area cyclists.  On the first day of registration,  I made sure to sign-up.  I was all set and pumped for the ride.  The only problem was that when the ride day finally approached I just wasn’t feeling it.  While my twitter stream was exploding with tweets from excited riders, I was figuring out how I could rationalize to myself to skip the ride.  I’m not sure what happened during the month since I registered but I was on the verge of NHF.

The night prior to the ride I made the decision to forgo the longer 50 States Ride and instead do the 16-mile 13 Colonies Ride.  The catch was that I would be doing it on my 16-inch Dahon Curve.  Not having ridden this small-wheeled wonder for more than 12 miles in one sitting, finishing the shorter race would still be an accomplishment of sorts.  This turned out to be an acceptable compromise and my motivation began to return.  I spent the rest of the evening prepping.  But not too much, after all I was only riding 16-miles (or until I finished my coffee).

The rides began at Walter Pierce Park in Adams Morgan.  The 50 States would begin at 9 while the 13 Colonies would depart 30 minutes later.  Despite the 500 other riders packing the park, I managed to meet up with the Friday Coffee Club folks before they departed for their ride.  At 9, the large group began their bottleneck out of the park towards downtown.  Would anyone be left to ride the colony ride with me?  Here I made the quick decision to join the big group – isn’t this why you sign up for group rides in the first place?  My goal was 16 miles and I figured it didn’t really matter how I got there.   We were off!

Between the opening bottleneck and timing of traffic lights, riders quickly broke into groups of 20-30 people.  This dynamic continued throughout the day making it fun when you crossed paths with another groups snaking their way around the city streets.  It also meant that if you got stuck at a red light while your current group moved ahead you could alway expect to merge into a new group coming up behind you.  Never being alone helped keep me motivated to keep going.  Of course, total reliance on the fastest riders didn’t always work out.  For example, just  1.28 miles into the ride we missed our turn onto Corcoran St.  Later in the day, some locals had to direct us back on course because some guy on a little red folding bike insisted on going down a cul-de-sac.  Oops.

As I passed L’Enfant Plaza and made my way around the tidal basin around mile 12, I met up with @Rootchopper.  To my surprise he said @Jdantos and his wife were just behind us.  Meeting up with them, I was even more surprised to find out that @Dirteng and @ramblingrider were just behind them.  I remember them getting ahead of me early on so I couldn’t quite figure out how I got the advantage.  We continued on to our first pit stop at the Anacostia Park Pavilion.  Now at mile 18.75, I had already exceeded my planned mileage.  This would be a perfect spot to say my goodbyes and head home for the day.  But as soon as the Coffee Club group started back up I followed.  And continued to follow through the hills of Anacostia (cursing for just one more gear) and back across the bridge to Eastern Market at mile 31.

Now it was time to go.  At the Eastern Market Pit stop, I grabbed a Crepe from a nearby vendor.  Energized by the nutella-goodness, I was ready for more!  Ready for it all!  But the rolling hills of Brookland and Northeast DC had other plans.  10 miles later I was looking at my cue sheet for an escape.  Looping around Sherman Circle was going to be it for me I decided.  If I didn’t exit know I would be facing more hills north to Takoma Park and then a final barrage of steep passes west of Rock Creek Park.  You have to know and accept your limitations.  No regrets.

The 50 States ride is tough.  Telling someone it’s just 65-mile ride doesn’t do it justice.  I warn anyone thinking about doing this without being 100% motivated for this urban endurance challenge.  Congratulations to everyone who finished the ride and made it back to the happy hour.

Next year, 50 States Ride – I’ll own you!


9 Comments leave one →
  1. September 24, 2012 8:31 am

    I was impressed you rode as much of the ride you did on the Curve! We’ll conquer all 50 States next year!

    • September 24, 2012 8:35 am

      Thanks Lisa. Yes, now that we know what it’s about, next year will be a cakewalk (maybe).

  2. September 24, 2012 10:45 am

    Awesome job, Kevin.

    I was separated from the Coffee group at the first traffic light. I took a rest room break at L’Enfant Plaza. All of a sudden I wasn’t riding alone, there you were with Justin and his wife on Ohio Drive.

    I nominate you to lead the Coffee Club through all 50 states in 2013!!!

  3. September 26, 2012 11:35 am

    Great job! I think I saw you a few times and was amazed that you tackled that ride on a folding bike!

    • September 26, 2012 8:13 pm

      Thanks, to you too. BTW your refurbed Miyata looks awesome…I knew after our Proteus ride a few weeks ago that you had a great vision for it.

      • September 26, 2012 9:23 pm

        Thanks! I actually have it somewhat stripped back down. It needs all (mostly) new components, so I bought a Jamis from Proteus for commuting while I completely rebuild the Miyata. Great blog!

  4. September 30, 2012 11:50 am

    I’d love to do the 50 States ride, but it would require some hard core training to be able to tackle those hills. Good job getting as far as you did!


  1. WABA 50 States Ride 2012: All About the People | chasing mailboxes d.c.
  2. Urban Explorations: the 50 States Ride (minus 9) | Rambling Rider

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