Guest Post: @ChasingShinyObj crosses Arlington, lives to tell the tale

My tremendous gratitude to Kevin for supplying this great bit of fresh guest postery. Meanwhile, I can't get my act together to write at lunch. I'll combine what I can recall of this morning's ride with what I hope to not forget from this evening's ride in what I hope that we all will, someday, fondly recall as an unforgettable post, unless of of course, it's not that good, at which point, we can all disavow it.  More you than me, since it'll be forever attached to this blog, which I only assume will eventually be printed out and hidden in the deepest archives of the Smithsonian, mostly because that's my plan for this weekend. I'm basically the Banksy of bike bloggers. 

My bike commute is a paradox of white knuckle road riding combined with a beautiful trail ride on parts of the W, O +D, Custis, and Four Mile Run trails. While Arlington and Alexandria taut themselves as bike friendly, there are stretches that would test the most seasoned bike commuter. I start out on a few roads in Arlington that have dedicated bike lanes, cross Lee Highway (route 29), Washington Boulevard, and eventually gain access to the trails just east of East Falls Church Metro.

This is the pretty part--yes, for a while it's beside route 66, but I get about 15 minutes of solid nature ride, including towering trees, babbling brooks, small waterfalls, and even Sparrow Pond [http://g.co/maps/gbdr5] with some turtles and an alleged beaver in it. The problem with this wonderful pond is there is nothing between the trail and the pond and on more than one occasion I have almost veered off track craning my neck to see some kind of wildlife.

After I cross Columbia Pike (and a bike counter), I get to the white knuckle portion of my ride--on George Mason Drive. You see, there's a steep hill there with no dedicated bike lane. When I'm in really good shape, I don't need to drop down to the lowest gears but most days I'm fighting the urge to push it down to those small nubs. The good news is it's all downhill just as much as it is up.

I cross Route 7 east of Bailey's Crossroads, duck into a neighborhood just after Seminary, and cut through an elementary school before getting to my office. We're in the shadow of the behemoth Mark Center, which you can see for miles on 395.

Part of the reason I bike is for exercise. My commute isn't as long as it once was when I worked in Old Town Alexandria, but it's about a half hour because of all of the lights I need to navigate. It's almost all downhill on the way to work, and almost all uphill home, which I don't love but that's the way it goes. I ride a Cannondale Bad Boy bike with a rack on the back and a messenger bag. I flirt with panniers, but always chicken out when I see the price.

Today's ride was an average ride. A little chilly in the morning, pretty much perfect on the way home. I think the rain on Sunday and Monday spawned every small gnat like bug along the trail and I ate a few dozen. I saw three (THREE) roller bladers on the trail today, which is a rare occurrence in the 2010s. There were more dog walkers and joggers than there were a month ago, but I like the company, to be honest.

Finally, I always text my wife when I get to work so she knows I made it safely. She doesn't like to think about what *could* happen on George Mason Drive, or crossing some of the arteries of Arlington County. Like many of you reading this, I've been called crazy, a hippy, and a risk-seeker for biking to work. I do love the exercise, and I like it even more when the gas prices rise. I feel very lucky I have an employer with showers, a boss who supports my efforts, and a family who values getting outside instead of inside a car all the time.


  1. Nice guest post. My wife is the same, text when you get there... Otherwise there is an annoyed phone call if I forget. I don't understand the annoyed part, just having me answer the phone should be a relief!

    Brian, would you entertain guest posts from outside the DC area?

  2. @David- I would absolutely entertain a guest post from outside the DC area! I'm sure that it would entertain many others, as well. If you're interested, please email me at talesfromthesharrows@gmail.com. I'm good for tomorrow, but I'm going to need one for next Monday (5/7).