I was on the road by 5:30, at bit early for me, intending to go grocery shopping but then I got outside and realized how gorgeous out it was. In workclothes and hiking boots no less, I somehow couldn’t go straight home – I needed a ride. To watch the sunset. To get fresh air. To savor the last drops of evening sunlight before Daylight Savings Time brings it all to a crashing halt. Something.
When I reached the Pennsylvania Ave NW cycletracks, somehow I turned westbound, away from home. At 7th I hopped down to the Mall and rode towards the Monument. “I’ll just ride out to the Lincoln Memorial, watch the sun setting, and catch my favorite view down the Mall. THEN groceries,” I thought. Then, I turned instinctively left at 15th St. towards the Jefferson and the MVT. So much for that. Muscle memory kicked in – this was my commute for 2 years.
I followed a raft of cyclists up and over the 14th St. Bridge, we were probably 8, not meaning to be a group but stuck together because of stoplights. The Mt. Vernon Trail northbound was gorgeous as always – sun painting the sky purple and orange to the left, memorials and monuments on the right reflecting it all back. Hordes of cyclists and joggers, including many zombies. “I’ll just do the Courthouse hill and turn around,” I thought.
I crossed Lee Highway to pick up the Custis, and wondered why Arlington/whomever thinks that a no-right-turn prohibition at this intersection would cause traffic jams. It already is nearly a right-turn prohibition, in effect — since countless joggers and cyclists are in the crosswalk for almost the whole length of the signal cycle, blocking all but a few cars from turning right onto the Key Bridge. At least at 6pm, anyways. Oh well.
I slogged up the Rosslyn hills in my dress shirt, passing a few lycra dudes, and by the top I was feeling great and knew it was all over. The sunlight was still strong, and I had lights. At the turnoff for Courthouse and Key Blvd, I thought “screw it, I’m going” and dashed right and down. I was headed for the whole loop.
Followed a few serious Virginia commuter types (lots of Spandex, serious bike lights and panniers) for a while along the Custis. Watched the sunset over the cars stuck in traffic on I-66 (I’ll never understand why they do it). Then, turned left onto the W&OD. That section of the W&OD is straight, easy, and slightly downhill – perfect for speed and gliding. I hit Shirlington as dusk was rapidly approaching, and set up front and rear blinkies at Four Mile Run. Pedestrian signal actuator is still non-functional at Columbia Pike, on the north west corner. Dusk light reflected off of Four Mile Run is beautiful, almost mirror-like. At the airport and the Mt. Vernon Trail again, darkness was setting in, and I had a tough time either a) seeing ninjas, or b) getting blinded by oncoming bike lights (folks – look to the side, not at me, if your light is helmet-mounted, ok?). But, the MVT was nice as usual, and it took me up to the 14th St. Bridge again, up and over the Capitol grounds, and home.
And, I stopped at Safeway for groceries.
24 miles, some icky work clothes, but a beautiful evening and a darn good time.