Sunday’s Weather Forecast:
The Lunch Prize:
The Good Craic loop to DC was a windy, chilly and thoroughly successful ride. Four hardy riders met at Carroll Park at 7:15AM Sunday morning ready for a tough ride. One of the four, Dave Hopkins was suffering from a cold and was having second thoughts. A friendly group of bikers just happened to ride past as Dave was admiting that he shouldn’t do a whole day in this weather. We suggested he catch that group for a shorter local ride and poof! he was off. (Dave, I hope it was a fun ride. Tell us about your ride)
Dave, Isaias and I left the park at 7:30 and quickly intercepted Tom who was ready for a long day in the saddle. Off we went, 4 again, down the Gwynns Falls trail and west out of town along Frederick rd. The early morning traffic along Clarksville Pike was polite and we pulled into our first rest stop with warm breath and cold toes. A short break and some wardrobe adjustments and we were off again south and west. Just as Rt.108 starts to get really nasty we turned off on to Tucker rd, one of the nicest wooded roads on the ride. Dave was riding Lantern Rouge and missed the next turn. I doubled back to find him and found no sign of him- he’d vanished. I came back to were Tom had been waiting and saw that he too was gone. Isaias whipped out the cell phone and gave a call. Dave had found a different way back, met up with Tom and the two of them were actually ahead of us. Sheesh! Isaias and I played catchup for a few miles and met them at the new construction for the ICC. The mishap was quickly forgotten as soon as we turned onto the beautiful Matthew Henson bike path. (Tom, a history buff, earned a free Guinness from me because he knew who Henson was). The trail is a lovely approach to the DC burbs, nicely paved and through beautiful woodlands.
Unfortunately, Tom got a flat along this stretch and we waited patiently while he fixed it, cursing only a little bit. Finally it was fixed, but a-ha! his back tire is flat too. Yowza, a double flat. Now the cursing was full on and our patience was dwindling along with our body heat. I was shivering while huddled in the Wheaton bus stop while Tom worked on flat #2. This is what fun bike riding is all about, right? After the fix, I needed a higher heart rate to warm myself up so I began a few fast heats chasing down some of the roadies we began seeing as we got onto Beach ave. This stretch is truly a beautiful approach into DC (thanks for the suggestion Barry C.) We begain seeing more and more cyclists of all kinds, more bike lanes, more bike signage and eventually roads closed to car traffic. Whoa, I don’t think we’re in Kansas anymore. We dug our way out of the Rock Creek valley and into Columbia Heights, across town to Howard Univ and south to the edge of Chinatown where we found our lunch stop, Fado.
Luckily there was not a big lunch crowd because we needed a second table to put out all of the winter riding clothes. I’m sure we were fragrant as well. Our prize- pints of Guinness all around. The food was good too. I was clock watching, worried about our riding time and available light. Tom and I knocked back another round and we suited up again for the cold. Across town, west on Constitution, past the Lincoln Memorial, underneath K street along the Potomac and onto the Capitol Crescent trail. For a Baltimorean, this trail is a dream. It’s paved, well-maintained, scenic, and long. And, it did a great job of sheltering us from the wind. Oh yeah, did I mention the wind? It was gusting up to 40 mph. Ouch. The Cap. Crescent got us all the way up past Bethesda. There were a couple more short stints on other trails, but once we had gotten north of the DC beltway the ride quality for a bicyclist declined sharply. The temps started dropping and the light began fading. We all decided against a break at the 75 mile point. Isaias and Tom started setting a faster pace hoping to beat sundown, David and I worked our way into the late miles at a steady pace knowing we wouldn’t. Our bright bike lights were clicked on somewhere around Jessup where we took a quick hot coffee break. Many of the last miles of the ride are similar to the Monument to Monument ride except that the route diverts west through Elkridge and Arbutus back to the Gwynns Falls trail and Carroll Park.
David and I rolled on past the start and together we rode back through a chilly west Baltimore. We could see TV sets on and families ready for the Ravens game. I looked longingly at a neighborhood boozer with his paper bag hoping I’d be getting my intoxicating warm-up soon. The dark quiet of Druid Hill Park and its stunning views of the city was a beautiful homecoming.
A good ride. Thank you Isaias, Dave and Tom.
Some pics from the ride:
the flickr page: Good Craic