Going the Distance – Biking 18 miles to Work

Bike to Work Day 2009 - Freedom Plaza Washington DC

Bike to Work Day is on Friday May 21, 2010. I used to bike to work every day and Bike to Work was just another day. Since those good times, my office location moved from downtown DC to my current location existing in this strange land beyond the beltway. So I, like Energy Secretary Chu, must pick and choose the days I ride.

Now that the days are longer, I’m making the trip again. I planned a route and I gave it a test ride over the weekend. I wanted to figure out how long it would take me and work out any kinks before I ride it during rush hour. It took me a little over an hour at a decent pace.

Overall I learned, it’s not the most bike friendly route, but it has to be better than sitting in traffic on Rock Creek Pkwy  watching cyclists, rollerbladers, and joggers on the trail drop me in my car.

Below is a full recap of the adventure.

Getting out of the District in a timely manner posed some issues. Namely the National Mall. I choose to take the 14th St bridge. It’s the most direct route, but it meant navigating the Mall during the height of let’s wear our fanny packs and drink 20 oz Sprites while looking at something called a cherry blossom fever/festival (I think I’m still bitter that the paddle boat line was over an hour long). I avoided as much of the crowds as I could by staying on the streets, and jumped on the congested path just after the Thomas Jefferson memorial.

The red marks where the fanny pack territory

Once I successfully crossed the bridge, I was feed into the rollerblade river of the Mt. Vernon trail. There must have been some sort of flash mob formed on the internet dedicated to rollerbladers coming out in full force with synchronized iPods. So I took it easy for a mile or two, trying not to be that Lance Armstrong wannabe huffing and puffing whizzing past the joggers. Maybe one day I’ll find a better route from the 14th St bridge to Commonwealth Ave.

Unlike the magical land of MacArthur blvd, I was a lone wolf  traversing over a barren land. There were no Cat 3’s buzzing by, just me and my bike. I ran into another solo rider as I stuffed my face with my remaining snack at a stoplight. We nodded; solidarity in the concrete jungle.

My route, taken from a WABA cue sheet, took me through the great Clermont Overpass as my way under the Beltway.

View of the under belly of the Beltway

The scenic under belly of the Beltway

This beautiful scene ended in this wall/zigzag structure. I reckoned that beyond that wall the rule of the Yuppie Kingdom did not apply.

The Clermont Overpass

Had I not know there was some way over the mountain/concrete wall, I would have turned back defeated, but I knew there was a way. I dismounted and in cyclocross fashion portaged the obstacle. Then I realized there was a ramp along the stair case.

The Ramp

Once on the other side of the galaxy, I was lost in a wandering maze of side streets that do not even pretend to be a grid like L’Enfant’s Federal City. Good thing they supplied this sign to show me how to get to the main road.

Bike Sign in Fairfax

From Franconia, I was able to make it into the office.

Stray Observations:

  • First and foremost, neighborhoods with the word hill in the name typically contain large hills.
  • It would have taken me a while to work out this route w/o the WABA cue sheet. If you are thinking of commuting, check the rest of them out.
  • The closest place to my office that is not an office building is a 15 minute walk; however, by bike it’s just moments.
  • 36 miles round trip, not a bad work out.
  • Also, important there is a water park with water slides and a wave pool in Alexandria.
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4 responses to “Going the Distance – Biking 18 miles to Work

  1. AND A WAVE POOL! The Alexandria water park also has a wave pool. Important, oft-overlooked detail.

  2. I believe the fanny packs may start extending throughout Constitution and Independence. At least look out for the segways (and Mall Cop Vega).

  3. Fanny pack rage has only just begun. Pretty soon they will be undergoing their metamorphasis from normal fanny packs to fanny packs that smell like armpit and clog the metro.

  4. Pingback: Commuting to Work on Two Wheels – DC to Fairfax Edition « DC Downshift

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