In spite of my planning and pre-packing, Monday morning's always feel a bit disjointed. I thought that I had lost my precious, precious sunscreen only to later discover/remember that I had put it in my bag last night. It rested alongside, amongst other things, the bow tie that I borrowed to ride with the Seersuckers, the boat shoes I ignominiously threw on the Whole Foods floor and didn't even later wear, and nine back issues of The Atlantic, which are currently gracing the magazine rack in our office's waiting area. I'm glad that I didn't get injured during this ride because I hate the though of the EMTs going through my bag and concluding that I am the world's biggest dork or a lefty George Will wannabe.
It was a nice morning and I wanted to make it a nice ride and I determined that the niceness would be maximized by riding the Capital Crescent Trail, which I haven't done in some time. I've, for no particular reason, decided that whenever I want to cross the Watergate side of the Key Bridge, I prefer to ride down Pershing and Fairfax and approach Rosslyn from the cemetery side rather than do the usual Fairfax/Key/Custis or Wilson/Clarendon route. For beginner cyclists coming through Arlington who might be intimidated by the heavy and fast car traffic on Fairfax and Wilson, I would advocate adopting something similar to this route, though maybe not Pershing since there are no bike lanes. You could instead ride along the Arlington Boulevard trail, which isn't exceptionally nice and more than a bit circuitous, but at least it's a separated, off-street trail. Of course, I'm giving directions that are based around the idea that you're leaving from my place, which in the vast majority of cases, won't be true. These directions would be applicable, however, if you were leaving from El Paso Cafe heading towards Santa Fe Cafe on the Tour de Mexican Places Named After Non-Mexican Cities, which is not yet an officially sanctioned UCI event.
I never know the correct way to go around a cyclist traveling slower than you would ideally prefer. I think the key is waiting until there's sufficient room to give a wide berth. I also don't know the politesse of saying something (which I feel would be weird and I'd probably tack on a 'mate' to the end of anything I'd say which would guarantee it being uncomfortable) or whether you should look over at them. I mean, it's not a race and it's not a judgment- I just happen to want to go faster sometimes. This probably doesn't deserve as much anxiety as I'm allowing it, but I just hate when I'm passed by superbikers and it makes me feel like a slouch and I don't want to give the impression to anyone I bike past that I'm jerkily trying to assert some sort of dominance. All of which brings me to my ride along the CCT.
Before I get to that, let's go over the tally. Between the start of the trail (so not counting Water/K Street from Wisconsin to the trail, where I passed maybe 30 people on bikes) and the staircase at Manning Place, I passed 126 bicyclists! That's a lot. I think, in fact, that's the highest count I've ever made, but I'm not the most regular tabulator of the trail on account of not regularly riding the trail. That's a distance of a little more than 3 miles. I think that this is pretty great and I don't know what it takes to get a trail to be considered a bicycle highway or if that's even possible, but to my mind, the Capital Crescent is one.
I spent much of the beginning of my ride behind a rather hardcore cycling type. Bedecked in Lycra and riding some carbon something-or-other, he looked like he was doing a century on his way to meet up with some guys to do another century. And, he had a giant tattoo on the back of his left calf of, I believe, himself in the style of one of those vintage bicycle race posters. Mesmerizing doesn't even begin to describe it.I was fairly content to ride along behind him because he was going at a fine pace though a little slower than I would have preferred. Before we got to Fletcher's Cove, a youngish guy zoomed past on our left and I thought, well, it's Monday, let me ditch grizzled superbiker and catch up with that other dude and follow him for a while. Which I did and that was ok. I was riding behind youngish guy, who started to slow, when I heard this gruff voice behind me say "He's done. Pass him." It was grizzled superbiker. I was like "what?" and grizzled was "He's got not legs. Get around him." I guess that grizzled superbiker decided that he also wanted to go faster or maybe was just piqued that youngish guy so brazenly rode past. I don't really know the ways of the superbiker, so I matter-of-factly said "ok" and we passed him and put some distance between us and the youngish guy. I haven't gotten this far in life by questioning the commands of someone with a giant calf tattoo of himself. I remained in front and we rode pretty hard thereafter. At a certain point, he gruffly said "You're gonna wear yourself out riding in that big chain" and I was all "Um, I'm just riding to the staircase," which was both factually accurate and non-committal. I was getting a bit tired, more in the lungs than the legs, and I imagined jettisoning the excess ponderousness of Jeffry Goldberg and Megan McCardle the way a boat captain might throw munitions overboard to escape a pursuing submarine. As we got closer to the staircase, I dropped into a lower gear and the superbiker said "Thanks. You did all the work. Good job." and then he rode past me, presumably to win some Master's triathlon or something. So yeah, that's the CCT.
Since the rest of the way to work was uphill, I took it easy and contented myself that me and some old dude rode our bikes fast for like 2 miles. I'm glad I could ride to your standards and I'll be sure to remember that when I'm inking up my calf with my own visage.