Four weeks ago, we rode in the 50 States Ride – my first long bike ride, and the longest I had ever sat in the saddle in one sitting. I had heard great things about this ride, and I knew I could always bail out and take Metro home, since even though you go for 65 miles, you’re never more than about 5 miles from home.
The number 65 stared back at me ominously and intimidatingly for a few weeks, and encouraged me to take advantage of the September evening light to go out and do training rides on Hains Point and Arlington trails. I found myself extending my 6-mile commute to 10, 20, even 30 miles with evening joyrides. I wasn’t trying to break any records, just getting used to riding for so long! It’ funny; for 2 years I had ridden a 20-mile roundtrip commute, but 10 in the morning and 10 in the evening usually wore me out and I never considered going further.
We rode the 5 miles from the Hill to Adams Morgan, picking up other fellow riders along Mass. Ave. Met our fellow rider and friend from college at the starting line.
The ride was a great adventure, an absolute blast. It took me to places I’d never been to in D.C., despite living here for four years. As a first-timer, tt was great to join a long ride that wasn’t about doing 20MPH and wasn’t too high on the lycra quotient – it all seemed very do-able. I rode the whole time with a U-Lock in my back pocket, and a Timbuk2 bag on my back. Chatting with other riders was a highlight, talking about the route, gear, weather, anything. Everyone was happy and determined to have a great time. I even had my brush with celebrity meeting Gypsybug, the author of Chasing Mailboxes (who took the picture at left).
Alabama and Missisippi were grueling, but the downhill back via Mass. Ave. SE made it all worthwhile. It was a bit strange to pass within blocks of home around lunch time, and we resisted the urge to go home and take a nap! The hills of NE were fun, but by the tim we got to NW I was feeling a little pooped. The uphills at Arizona and New Mexico were particularly rough – and Garfield, oh Garfield, you nearly crushed my will to not get off and walk. Cars were (mostly) very polite, and we only overshot one of the 10 pages of turns once, on Wisconsin Ave. But we made it.
Arriving at the post-ride happy hour we were greeted by cheers and clapping, which made it all worthwhile. The $4 beers didn’t hurt much either! After some yummy brazilian appetizers from the Grill from Ipanema, things were winding down and we rode back home for some rest.
A great adventure, and we’re already thinking about next year.