Ride In 11/15

Variety is the spice of life and variety in bike commuting routes is the spice of the life of bike commuters. Other spices in the life of bike commuters vary depending on their preferences and the time of year, but if, let's say, you were doing some holiday shopping at Penzey's for the bike commuter in your life, you couldn't go wrong with a seasonally appropriate baking variety pack that includes cinnamon, allspice and cloves. Perhaps then the bike commuter in your life will take some time to make you seasonally appropriate pumpkin scones. But I digress.
As Confucius never said "Sometimes to go west, you have to ride east." I rode east today in an attempt to find my way along the much touted Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. Along the way, I didn't encounter this jaunty fellow:

I looked briefly at a map and figured that it wouldn't be especially difficult to follow a trail that runs roughly along the river. In this, I was completely incorrect. I rode through the parking lot of the current stadium of the soon-to-be Baltimore United to a barrier that said Trail closed that had an arrow on it that pointed me into another parking lot and another trail segment that was only a few feet of grass away. The trail was quite pleasant and quite empty, excepting one man jogging (we nodded) and one man walking, without leashes, his two small dogs. At some point not too far down the trail, I came upon an unfinished bridge, which I think will obviate the need to cross to cross Pennsylvania Avenue by the Sousa bridge. The bridge, being unfinished, proved useless to me, so I detoured and ended up in Barney Circle. This is where I made the mistake of trying to follow signs instead of following my instincts and I rode away from the river, parallel to the highway along K Street SE, not sure of how I was supposed to cross the highway to once again access the trail and river. If you're not especially familiar with this part of Washington (which I'm not either), here's an annotated map:
Red means trail. Real trail map here
My plan was to reconnect to the trail somewhere around 11th street, where I've previously noticed signs. The signs pointed me east again and I realized after a block that wasn't going to work, so I turned around. What I should have down is keep riding down 11th towards the Navy Yard, where maybe I could have picked up the trail again. Of course, I don't think they allow bicycle riding on that part of the Riverwalk (lame) and I'm also not exactly sure if they open the gates on any kind of regular schedule. So, I didn't do that and instead rode along M Street, past the USDOT HQ and past the baseball stadium before making a right onto N Street, which wasn't the greatest move since N Street abruptly turned south at the same time turning into a different street entirely. I turned right on P and was once again on somewhat familiar ground. I rode past the Titanic Memorial (for real) and started to ignore the once again rattling on my rear fender. (It wasn't from a loose screw, but rather from one of the stays banging again my rear rack. I tried to fix it later (by bending it), so that might have stopped it.) Then it was along Water Street, past the Bikeshare dock on 7th and through the construction zone on Maine Avenue. It's getting better, but it's still not done. The plan, I think, is to widen the sidewalks to make them more "pathy."
I rode down Ohio Drive, which was empty of all car, bus, bike and jogger traffic except for me. If I were capable of riding fast for any sustained amount of time, this would have been a good opportunity. Then it was along the not-so-great trail along the Potomac to K street to the CCT.
I think I would have enjoyed the trip more had I been able to remain on trails for the entirety, not so much because trail ride is superior to on street riding, but mostly because that was what I had set out to do and my cartographic deficiencies and poor signage and a hypothetical rejection by the US Navy precluded that. K Street under the Whitehurst remains one of the least pleasant bicycle spaces in DC. It's made worse when some bicycles do their damnedest to ride directly into right hooks, but there's not much I can do about that.
At least 60 bicyclists coming in the opposite direction along the Capital Crescent. Some of them saw me try to take a picture of the foliage as I rode along. I failed because my sweaty fingers couldn't virtually depress the virtual photo button, so I don't have any orange blurriness to share with you. Most, the overwhelming majority, of the people I passed were white men. So it goes.
My legs must have felt at least somewhat ok riding up through Macomb Street and along Loughboro Road because I was out of the saddle. Perhaps I was "dancing on the pedals." Perhaps I was [insert your favorite Paul Sherwen-ism here]. The whole trip took longer than I expected, but it was a nice ride along a sedate trail and a route that I will come nowhere near later in the season as it gets colder and as the trail becomes even more obscured with leaves and snow and ice. I'll keep trying along the ART and anyone who has experience with riding from roughly RFK to the Titanic Memorial could/should fill me in on how to do it. 


  1. I can fill you in on the portion of the ART from the Sousa Bypass Bridge to Yards Park. First, when you get to the end of the trail at the unfinished bridge, you just casually trespass across the active railroad tracks just to the east of Pennsylvania Ave. (Note: I haven’t done this, but I have seen joggers do it.) I’m sure it’s especially fun to carry a loaded commuter bike across two tracks and gravel ballast! Then you follow M St. for a few hundred yards while enjoying the warm and fuzzy “highway access road” feel. At Water Street, you veer left on to the trail for a short stretch and then get spit back out onto Water Street, which is actually kind of secluded and nice. When you get to the part with all of the parked cars, you know you’re getting close to the 11th Street Bridges. After going under the last bridge, hang a hard left onto the path toward the river and that will take you to the Navy Yard portion of the ART. Sure, the sign says bike riding not permitted, but since when has the Navy been a stickler for rules and order? When (if?) you emerge on the other side of the Navy Yard (without being sent to the brig for riding your bike) at Yards Park you can exit the waterfront park by taking one of the meandering paths through the grove up toward the lumber shed pavilion. Decision time, hot shot! Pick a path, but don’t mess up because only 2 of them are stair-free. From the Yards Park Pavilion, there isn’t really a great way to get to the Titanic Memorial… yet. All in all, it sounds really simple, right?

  2. So, all I have to do is cross some active railroad tracks, get through the bridge construction, sneak past armed military guards and then avoid some staircases in an otherwise pleasant park? I think I'll just wait for the bridge to open. As far as the Navy goes, maybe if I fly the flag of a friendly port, I won't be fired upon?

  3. I ride in that area a lot due to boat docked on the Anacostia. Stay north of M Street (Navy Yard section) and ride on K/L street by the new apartment buildings and the old trash station. Wide, almost no traffic. Then you hit Barracks Row and can get onto Water Street SE via 11th/M Street corner under the bridge. You can ride 11th down to the waterfront under the bridge and will find yourself on wooded stretch of Water Street where the ART picks up past the District Yacht Club.