A perfect day for a bike ride

Everybody gets ready to start

Coming on the heels of Bike to Work Day on Friday, I (and 5,000 others) participated in Bike DC on Sunday.

In case you’ve never heard of it, once a year, by some great feat, what could only be a magnormous sea of bureaucracy and red tape is parted so that bicyclists can ride 20 miles through downtown DC and Arlington on the streets and highways–without cars on them.

It is quite an amazing experience–you riding on the street with no worries about being flattened. You even get to run red lights. At first, it is quite surreal–like doing something you aren’t supposed to be doing. I think everyone felt that way, because the pace of the ride was really slow for the first few miles and most riders stayed in big clusters.

Once we got across to the GW Parkway (again, on the highway bridge–which just felt so amazingly odd on a bike), people started to pick their own pace. Though most riders, probably out of habit more than anything else–usually stayed glued to the far right side of the carless roads.

I thought the hills on the GW Parkway would be the worse–and they were unrelenting–but the hills around the Air Force and Iwo Jima memorials spanked me pretty hard.

Overall it was great fun.

A big thank you should go out to the hundreds of people who made it possible: dozens and dozens of volunteers that kept riders safe, fed, and going in the right direction; the many law enforcement and EMS personnel who worked the route and kept traffic under control; the organizers who take on the huge logistics of this event and make it happen flawlessly; and especially to those in local government who have the vision and open-mindedness to help something like this happen.

I’m sure there are plenty of pictures in the media, but if you are too lazy to look for them, you can look at my incredibly bad and unsatisfying photos taken during the ride here.

Any other Bike DC riders out there?

16 Comment

  • i went to pick up my wife from the airport yesterday at 1130pm. it was *dark*.

    as i started to take the exit off 395 to go to DCA, there was a person, standing on a bike, in dark clothing right near the offramp, no lights, no helmet, only one little reflector. he looked tired/lost/bewildered.

    there was no where for me to stop and offer assistance, but i hope he got off the highway ok!

    if he participated in the day’s ride, i guess they need to be more clear that the event ends and riding on highways is a bad idea, especially at night.

    as a cyclist myself, i’ve been worried about him since. =(

  • Awesome event for sure- great volunteers, beautiful weather, wonderful route.
    Any word on the downed cyclist (seemingly from a heart attack) on the Arlington side of the route? We saw the CPR being administered (you people are INCREDIBLE!!), the paramedics arrive, the man being defibrillated, and him (incredibly) moving and sitting up on the stretcher.
    I hope he’s doing well and on his road to recovery!!

    • According to WABA’s twitter feed he was (amazingly) stabilized and taken to the hospital; I don’t know anything else.

      My BF and witnessed the crash and immediate aftermath and it was very scary 🙁 He bobbled a bit and then went down hard on his head (we thought he had just snagged the curb and fallen, until we heard it was his heart). By the time we looped back around, they were administering CPR, and we continued on since he was receiving plenty of medical attention at that point.

      Dear anonymous heart attack guy, you were in all of our thoughts yesterday, and we hope you’re recovering comfortably now.

      • I actually got a better look at the fall than polytasker did and it was scary regardless of the circumstances. I’d just like to give extreme kudos to the other bikers who started giving the guy medical attention within seconds and the police who, from the sounds of it, were on scene within minutes. Glad to hear that he is doing okay.

  • Medical emergencies aside, the ride was great. WABA did a fabulous job organizing it – the route was enjoyable (and hillier than I was expecting, which was nice), signage was clear, volunteers were helpful, and the pit stops were a big plus. And the weather cooperated!

    I’ll definitely be back next year.

    • As the boyfriend, and one of the many tasks polytasker is forced to deal with on a daily basis, I’d like to second the above thoughts. It was pretty amazing being able to ride on those highways and through the trees on the GW parkway as well as my first trip to the Iwa Jima and Air Force Memorials. WABA volunteers did a great job, even stopping for a second when I had to recover a dropped cell phone. And to 2nd the OP, there was much ass-kicking being given by the unexpected hills, but I’m a better rider for it. Note to WABA and BikeDC who will invariably read this at some point today: noting something for first time riders about the number/total elevation/or what have you that can be expected would be helpful. I wouldn’t be surprised if some less experienced riders or families found themselves biting of a bit more than they could chew.

      Also, my legs get mad at me when I try to walk up stairs. Thanks BikeDC!

  • I rode it for the first time & really enjoyed myself. I’m not too sore today, but maybe I was going slow.

  • Strange, this is the first I’ve ever heard of this event.

  • GiantSquid

    I signed myself and Mr. Squid up for it and we had a great time! I second the elevation request because I had my butt kicked by the Air Force hill and the road next to Iwo Jima although another cyclist was nice enough to check-in with me during my meltdown after climbing the second.

    The only sour spot was one of the uber cyclists being an ass about passing on the left when Mr. Squid is deaf in his left ear and couldn’t hear him. Otherwise, folks were pretty chill and pleasant to ride with making it exactly what it was supposed to be: fun.

    Loved the folks with the boom boxes, the music was an appreciated pick-me-up. It was crazy to be riding up Pennsylvania, listening to John Phillips Sousa, seeing nothing up open road and other cyclists. A huge thank you to the organizers and the law-enforcement!

    We will definitely be doing it again (just with a little more training beforehand on my part.)

    • Granting that the one cyclist was probably an ass, Mr. Squid can avoid the problem in the future by staying to the right if he’s slower than other traffic. Just as on roads with cars, slower traffic should stay to the right so that others might pass. I thought this was a pretty universally understood principle, but I was surprised by how offended some folks got by the idea of someone wanting to get by them.

      • GiantSquid

        Mr. Squid is an incredibly conscientious rider and is well aware of the ride to the right rule. He was actually in the process of passing someone slower than him when these guys tried to blow by on the left.

        Our issue is not with them passing on the left, our issue was a. their assuming everyone riding has perfect hearing and could hear their “passing on the left” and b. then having to follow it up with the dick comment “that means move to the right.” It’s amazing how some folks are so much in a hurry (for a fun ride no less) that they couldn’t wait thirty seconds for a fellow rider to move out of the way.

        • There seems to be some confusion – “on the left” I believe means “I see some space to pass you, please don’t move to your left” or something like that. It should not mean, “hey, outa my way,” particularly during a fun ride with a wide wide variation in skill levels.

  • Great ride, well organized, lots of fun!

    Looking forward to next year’s ride

  • Just happened to find out about it on Friday and we signed up and did it. Have to agree that some of the hills were painful –especially with my 1 yr old in tow in the bike trailer. It was awesome, though, and we plan to make it a family tradition.

  • notlawd

    I second (or 4th, I lost count) the comment on the unexpected hills! I am a fairly new rider and I also thought the GW hill was going to be the worst, but that was nothing compared to the last one at the end. I was probably just losing wind by that point, but I do think its made me a better rider because of them. Otherwise a really great event! I certainly plan to make it an annual thing. In addition to the boom boxes, I also really enjoyed seeing all the various bike contraptions. I mean 20 miles on a unicycle or elliptical bike, really? Kudos. Next year we should all wear our PoP tshirts to represent!

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