I have participated in the DC metro area’s Bike to Work Day for the last 8 years, and have become the office ambassador for getting my colleagues to ride. Office participation has steadily grown since the first time I did it alone 8-years ago. We usually get recognition from WABA on our participation levels. We have never won highest participation for the Reston pit stop; we fall woefully short to our Bike to Work Day nemesis, the US Geological Society. I don’t mean to stereotype, but I’m pretty sure I can tell who these USGS hooligans are when I get to the rest stop….Birkenstock, bearded, hippy looking individuals, and dusty (ok, maybe not dusty). As a geologist myself, I feel I can spot another from a mile away. Anyhow, good for them and to everyone who rides to work.
Team SCS Engineers
Bike to Work Day was on May 18th, and for those of you in the DC metro area you may recall it was a perfect weather day for riding. The trail was noticeably more crowded, and most everyone seemed happy to be out there on a bike. I passed a few pit stops on my way in. My favorite, was the Falls Church stop which had a band. My least favorite was the one right before the bridge crossing I-495. The rest stop was sponsored by the I-495 Express Lanes group. For those of you in the area you know what this is, dubbed the Lexus Lanes, a private firm with the blessing of VDOT, has done unimaginable things to traffic to build their toll lanes down the middle of the Capital Beltway. I feel this group has no business representing a pit stop on Bike to Work Day. Their project does nothing to promote cycling, and has increased traffic accidents and congestion. To top it off, their lanes will be tolled, and the price to use them will vary depending on traffic conditions and time of day. Pooo on them!
I was at Tybee Island (near Savannah, GA) for the holiday weekend. I saw this interesting self-propelled vehicle. You and nine of your closest friends can hire it out, and under you own pedal power move about the town. I saw one on the move in Savannah, not a fast way to get around town, but a good way to work off all that southern food you just consumed at Paula Deen’s Lady and Sons’ restaurant. The one in Savannah (which I did not have time to get a picture) was staffed with what looked like to be a bachelorette party. They appeared to be having a good time, pedalling looked to be of minimal exertion, and guided by a driver that steered and made sure they did not roll into oncoming traffic.
Tybee Bike Bus
This past weekend marked another organized ride I can check off my list, Bike New York. If you are not aware of it, it is an organized 40-mile ride through the five boroughs of New York City. The ride offers cyclists the opportunity to bike the streets of New York, sans car traffic, with 32,000 of your closest cycling friends….and yes, everyone is close! Imagine cramming 32,000 cyclists together on the streets of New York, you can expect things will get exciting at times.
One of the first things you will notice when doing this ride, just because someone can ride a bike, it does not mean they are good at it. I guess it’s the same for car drivers, there are bad ones and there then there are extremely bad ones. When you are in that close a proximity to other riders you need to be ever vigilent, hold your line and no quick turns or manuevers; not everyone got that memo. By the end of the 40-miles I was exhausted, it took every once of energy I had not to be side swiped by another cyclist talking on thier cell phone or toppled by a cyclist who just decided to fall over (and there were several).
View of the Statue of Libery from a Ride Rest Stop
My favorite part of the ride actually took place before the ride started. We decided to bike the 6-miles to the ride start, rather than deal with a subway ride. Something about biking down Broadway, through Times Square, at 7:30 in the morning had a magical quality to it. The City was fairly quiet, and it was nice to take advantage of the bike lanes without a lot of cyclists on them.
Biking Down Broadway
Crossing the Verrazano Bridge was probably the hardest part. It’s at the end of the ride and includes a mile steady climb, this is where I saw the most cyclists simply fall over. The Finish Festival is on the other side of the bridge on Staten Island. However, this is a trick, it’s not really the finish, you have 4 more miles to go before you actually reach the end. At the end you wait in line a good hour for the ferry ride back to Manhattan. From there we biked the Greenway, a delightful path along the river. We celebrated our accomplishment at an outdoor restaurant with some beers and nachos….beer never tasted so good! In total we did a 52-mile day. While I enjoyed the experience, it is not likely I will do it again. Too many people to really enjoy the ride and scenery. However, I would recommend to anyone to try it once, it’s not often you get to bike the streets of New York. Be aware, there are a lot of people, it is, however, the largest organized bike ride in the world.
Now onto today’s bike commute into work. It’s a beautiful morning in the DC metro area, crisp, cool, sunny weather. I did something today I probably really shouldn’t do, but it was thoroughly enjoyable; I listened to my iPod. I would never do this if I had to ride on roads, but my 17-mile commute is all on dedicated bike trails, and I am going the opposite direction of most bike commuters….I am heading west out of the city. It made the 90-minutes fly by.
My commute was marred by one idiot. A 50-ish year old, pudgy man, decked out in some team racing kit, on a bike that is way more than what he needed. He took a downhill, blind corner wide and way too fast, cutting onto my side of the trail. I had to hit the brakes and swerve off the trail to avoid hitting him. I don’t like doing this, but I called him a name….loud enough for him to hear. If you really feel the need to go out bike racing, the Custis/WO&D Trails are not the place, especially during the morning/afternoon bike commute.
My irritation quickly faded a few miles up the trail when I passed a runner. You pass a lot of runners on the trail, it’s not a special site. I ring my bell and give the a wide berth, to avoid hitting and irritating them. This one runner in particular turned to me, and in a super cheery voice wished me a good morning. When I am running I am in no way this happy, and to belt out a pleasant “good morning” would be nearly impossible for me. I returned the pleasantry and continued on. A few more miles up the trail I encountered another nicety, a older Asian man, walking towards me, was giving a pleasant wave and smile to everyone who passed. This made me further forget the idiot who nearly wrecked me. Note to self, be more pleasant when out on the trail, it makes people’s day.