Rides May 1 and May 2: Negative Splits

From coffee, Rudi and I rode together down G Street, past the Watergate on Virginia Avenue, then over and up through Georgetown on Wisconsin. On the way home, Virginia Avenue was closed as part of a parking garage at the Watergate complex had collapsed and there were firetrucks and police everywhere and the road the closed in the direction that I would've taken. I asked if I could ride through, but was told no. Instead, I rode down along the water, but instead of riding past the volleyball courts and around that way towards Ohio Drive, I stuck with the road I normally take in the morning, which spat me out by the Lincoln Memorial.

There's a reason- a reason called good sense- that I don't normally go this way in the afternoon, but I found sharing the path with the throngs of tourists to be not as bad I had expected. What's the joke- only in DC can four tourists walk six across? Yeah, pretty much that. After 15th Street, which was closed due to continued crane work on the museum, it was a trip down Jefferson Drive, one of the more misused streets in this place. I'm quite confident that I've complained about this before, but that won't stop me from doing it again, but thee is no way that the current configuration of that street, the one that allots between 1/3 and 2/3 of the space to storing cars for free, is the best and most productive use of that space. It just makes me so sad. Do you know have amazing a protected cycletrack along the Mall would be? Very amazing. And it would be used by a lot more people than the parking spots. But cars, so yeah.

TFTS, such as it is, has been a blog about bicycle commutes, and what I did yesterday wasn't a bicycle commute, but I think I'm going to write about it anyway. Feel free to stop reading as it will not be on the test, nor is is strictly considered canon.

I rode a century, the vast majority of it on the W&OD trail. I started at my house and rode to Purcellville, Virginia, a place that I stopped pretty much only because that's where the trail stopped. This ride is a "thing" that people do and I've long meant to do it having never done it before and with a free day and some gorgeous weather and with the next couple months being occupied with pursuits that will prevent me from spending a whole weekend day bicycling (I'm going back to school- gotta complement that Medieval Studies degree with something a little more practical- paleo-botany!), I set off around 9, pointed my bike west and figured that I'd go till I stopped. I went alone, which is probably not the best way to do it, but I didn't know if I would want to give up somewhere along the way and wouldn't have wanted to disappoint any riding partners with more sticktoitiveness than I have. Some things:

- This isn't the most inspiring ride. It's a lot of looking at powerlines. But I appreciated that it was off-street, so that was one less thing to worry about. The W&OD does cross a lot of streets and does have a lot of stop signs, but there isn't a ton of crossing traffic generally, so that tends to work out.

- My NoVa geography is terrible, so every new town along the way was a place that I had heard of but couldn't put in any geographical context. What's closer: Reston or Herndon? Where's Ashburn? How big is Leesburg? That made the whole ride mysterious. Where does it end? Who knows?

- The signs along the trail pointed up helpful things, like bike shops and breweries. I stopped at neither, but it's nice to know that they're there.

- Lots of people on the trail and they all seem to get along ok. I mean, for the most part. I did get one 'cutting it tight, buddy' from a woman riding in the other direction when I passed some folks on cruisers in front of me. It's conceivable that I was one of the worst trail riders out there, though less from malice than inexperience.

- I saw bicyclists whose calves were bigger than my thighs.

- Purcellville is ok. It's probably not a place I'd live, but it has some things to recommend it, including a hot dog store (I had a hot dog lunch, which maybe wasn't the best decision) and a cool bike shop/coffee shop called Veloville. Also, antique stores and probably other stuff too. I didn't explore very much.

In conclusion, a few more things:

- I really should've adjusted the seat angle on my bike. I had fiddled with it and it proved to be totally bad, but I just kinda went with the badness instead of stopping to adjust it. That was a poor decision.

- I'm glad I did it, but I don't think this kind of bicycling is for me. After about 30 miles, I was like 'yup, this is what it is' and I felt like I got out of it- mentally, physically, emotionally- whatever transcendence was readily accessible. I just don't think I'm into endurance. It's not that I'm incapable- though my legs are fairly sore currently. It just doesn't thrill me. The kind of bicycle that does is the the kind that 'hacks' a city and allow you to bypass aggravating driving and onerous public transportation and leading you to explore neighborhoods and places that are off the main nodes. That's how I like to use my bicycle and that's likely how I'm going to continue to use it mostly. Though I guess doing something like this once every so often it's a nice reminder that a bicycle is truly one of the most versatile transportation tools and that's a nice reminder to have.


Yup, that's where I went




  1. I do this ride a few times a year, primarily to justify stuffing my face with Carolina Bros. BBQ.

  2. This is a great ride, and like you, is how I did my solo century. In 90+ heat, in my case, but far fewer people on the trail. The part between Leesburg and Purcellville is pretty wonderful, but of course is becoming less so with development.

    Lots of breweries out that way if you're so inclined. Crooked Run in Leesburg is a favorite, but they don't have food, and if you're doing 100 miles, you do probably need more than beer.

  3. The W&OD trail isn't a great ride -- flat (boring), little to look at, lots of stop signs, and many slow riders (I support all riders getting out there, but i'd don't enjoy the constant slowing and passing). I will concede that the part from Leesburg to Purcellville is nice. C&O is better as there is more to see and less packed after great falls (if you want a non-road adventure). I'd recommend riding from DC to Sugarloaf Mountain via Mac, River, bucklodge roads, then back for a nice century. give a better route a try before judging all endurance riding.