Three things you should know about my commute. Number 1: It stinks. Number 2: There are a number of nice biking opportunities along my usual route home. Number 3: It stinks less when I take advantage of the cycling opportunities and allow rush hour traffic to abate before I attempt the crossing from Maryland to Virginia.
Last Tuesday I had an opening of time between work and a jazz jam I was attending in Tysons Corner - the perfect opportunity to take the new bike for its maiden ride. I took my usual rush hour route down Piney Meetinghouse Road, which takes me right by the park on the Maryland side of Great Falls. At the park I changed into my decidedly non-cyclist riding clothes: a regular t-shirt and a fleece sweatshirt on top paired with quick-dry adventure shorts borrowed from my kayaking wardrobe concealing my bike shorts. No adorable matching jerseys and socks for me, thank you very much, and no twee little cap. I did, of course, wear a helmet.
Sorry. Even in a post about cycling I can't resist a little rant about modern cycling culture and its attendant costume.
I uncovered the bike (ever the paranoid New Yorker, there's no way I would leave a high end bike in full view in the back of my car all day), hopped on and started with a lap around the parking lot to experiment with the pedals. I practiced clipping one foot in and out, then the other. I had figured on doing the main part of my ride not clipped in, but I quickly became comfortable with being clipped in. I need some more practice before I'd feel comfortable with it on city streets, but on an uncrowded trail I was fine.
Over the canal and onto the towpath I went. What a rush! I'm used to either riding moderately fast on city streets and trails or blobbing along dirt trails at low speeds on my 29er mountain bike. The ability to ride road bike style on a dirt trail was something new and awesome. Riding a drop bar bike rather than a hybrid for the first time in twenty years felt good. Back in the early 90's I replaced my Miyata 312 12-speed with a Marin straight bar hybrid to better tow toddlers in the bike trailer. Given that my sons are now 21 and 19, I think I'm safely past the requirement to be able to tow a trailer and so it's back to something a little more roadie.
The evening was crisp and clear. The sun was slowly setting over the Potomac. The bluebells were in bloom. Beautiful. I rode from Great Falls to canal lock 22, about 12 miles round trip. I would have gone farther but I was time and daylight limited. I thought I was bombing along at a pretty good speed too, though another rider did blow by me at one point like I was standing still. GPS said I averaged less than 13 MPH. Gotta work on those cycling muscles.
|The Gangster hits the C&O|
The one unpleasant aspect of the whole ride was occasionally riding through cloud of little bugs: what in the UK they call "midgies". Gotta wear glasses next time.
By the time I finished my ride, changed back into street clothes and made it to Tysons Corner I had no time to get dinner - an energy bar and a chocolate milk from the Exxon Quik Mart had to suffice. I did another quick change of clothes in the Great Falls parking lot and didn't even have time to take a look at myself in the mirror at a bathroom somewhere to make sure I looked presentable. I showed up at the jam just on time and played jazz for two hours, and it was only when I used the rest room at the end of the jam that I realized that I had a face full of splattered bugs. What the folks at the jam must have thought of me!
|Alongside the river|