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  1. #1
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    Need advice from DC area commuters

    Hi folks,
    I want to do a pilot test commute to work from Vienna, VA to Upper Marlboro, MD. It's roughly a 26/28 mile ride one way.
    I've mapquest(ed) all the way, but there's a long stretch along Arlington Blvd that I would like to avoid and do instead as much as possible on the W&OD. Is there a way to get to DC downtown, or as close as possible through W&OD? As a reference, once in DC I have to follow Independence Ave until Pennsylvania Ave SE and follow Penns. Ave all the way to final destiny.
    Any tip/advice will be very appreciated.
    A California ordinance states that a $500 fine will be given to anyone who detonates a nuclear device within city limits.

  2. #2
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    The Custis trail connects the W&OD to the Mt. Vernon trail. You have your choice of bridges to cross the river - I take either the Memorial Bridge or the 14th Street bridge, then ride down the mall (those small roads in front of the museums) instead of Independance Avenue. After the Capitol you can hook up with Pennsylvania Ave SE, or find a quieter street on Capitol Hill to ride. East Capitol Street has a bike lane.

    Check out www.bikewashington.org for maps and info. Good luck!

  3. #3
    Zinophile tibikefor2's Avatar
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    Tribe:

    I ride the WO&D almost every day from Vienna to downtown DC. I take the W&OD to the Custis Trail. The Custis Trail starts at the end of the section that parallels Route 66, which is a left hand turn. The Custis Trail will then take you to Rosslyn Va. When you get to the Key Bridge you will want to go straight to remain in the bike path. The bike path will continue to Memorial Bridge and then the 14th Street Bridge. I go over the 14th Street Bridge which brings you out on Ohio Avenue by the Jefferson Memorial. From there you can cut accross to Independence Ave.

    Hope this helps.
    Tibikefor2

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    Great help guys! thanks : ) I guess I'll have to drop mapquest and get some paper maps to fine-tune the route. The Custis is the "key" I was looking for.
    I believe I'll be arriving at DC at 06:30 aprox. I have to see If I can find an alternate route to Pennsylavania Ave, It could be kind of busy starting at 07:00 although it takes me straight to my job.
    A California ordinance states that a $500 fine will be given to anyone who detonates a nuclear device within city limits.

  5. #5
    Calamari to go cc_rider's Avatar
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    W&OD to DC is the easy part. Custis trail at mile 4 is shorter but hillier, or continue down the W&OD to the end, cross 395 at the Shirlington pedestrian bridge, and take the Four Mile Run trail to National Airport for a flatter ride, couple miles longer.

    Getting to the Upper Marlboro side of the city.....Independence and Pennsylvaina Avenues I guess. I don't know how bikeable PA Ave is past the Anacostia River, but you should be headed against most of the rush-hour traffic. Outside of the beltway some of the parallel roads like Marlboro Pike and William Beans might be safer than route 4.

  6. #6
    Senior Member jagged's Avatar
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    I have to see If I can find an alternate route to Pennsylavania Ave, It could be kind of busy starting at 07:00 although it takes me straight to my job.
    I ride Pennsylvania Avenue (west of the White House) every day. For a major DC street, it is a good ride. It has wide outside lanes. Traffic is not an issue. I rarely even get honked at.

  7. #7
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    You can also take Mt. Vernon to the Memorial Bridge, and when you cross the Memorial Bridge, just jump Constitution Ave and ride Constitution all the way to Pennsylvania Avenue.

    Koffee

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    Calamari to go cc_rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jagged
    I ride Pennsylvania Avenue (west of the White House) every day. For a major DC street, it is a good ride. It has wide outside lanes. Traffic is not an issue. I rarely even get honked at.
    Pennsylvania Avenue NW and on Capitol Hill are ok for riding. But what about past the Sousa Bridge?

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    Ok, I'll do it tomorrow morning. I called my office to tell that my arrival time is uncertain.
    Thanks all for your imputs. I took a little from all of them to decide my route.

    cc_rider, Penssylvania ave after Anacostia River is pretty narrow with cars parked..., but like you said, the rush hour goes the other way so I'm confident it will be ridable.

    I'll post back tomorrow. I'm so excited! I hope I can get some sleep
    A California ordinance states that a $500 fine will be given to anyone who detonates a nuclear device within city limits.

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    I live on Capitol Hill and ride through Vienna going the other way. It's a beautiful ride. Traffic is going to be worse in the afternoon, even going against the major flow. The area around Penn and Minnesota, before crossing Sousa back into Capitol Hill is crazy; cars making uturns in heavily congested areas to avoid waiting in line to get onto 295. I see bikes on Sousa a lot, so it's definitely doable.

    Have fun. And if it gets too exhausting, you have the option of the Metro in the morning.

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    ^^^ Just wondering, Is the Maryland part (Penn Ave) very hilly? I do the Cap Beltway evry morning so this a new route for me.
    A California ordinance states that a $500 fine will be given to anyone who detonates a nuclear device within city limits.

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    As you cross the Anacostia, you have a pretty decent hill in front of you. Then a longer downhill. After that, it is pretty good cruising. Lights are more spread out and you have a shoulder. The hill coming back towards Capitol Hill in the afternoon will be worse.

    Have you driven your route by car? I know how much it sucks to postpone a ride after anticipating it, but I would highly recommend driving it first. You are going to have to take the lane a few places and it's good to see the conditions of the roads and turn lanes.

    Have you checked the mileage? Vienna on the WOD is at mile 12; 19 miles from Capitol Hill. I've only driven a car on the stretch of Penn towards Maryland, so I can't estimate the miles, but it seems like it would be longer than 6-8 miles. I could easily be wrong though.

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    I am working in DC tomorrow on the hill. If you get in a bind, give me a call: PHONE EDITED OUT BY MOD

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    Quote Originally Posted by freerangemike
    As you cross the Anacostia, you have a pretty decent hill in front of you. Then a longer downhill. After that, it is pretty good cruising. Lights are more spread out and you have a shoulder. The hill coming back towards Capitol Hill in the afternoon will be worse.

    Have you driven your route by car? I know how much it sucks to postpone a ride after anticipating it, but I would highly recommend driving it first. You are going to have to take the lane a few places and it's good to see the conditions of the roads and turn lanes.

    Have you checked the mileage? Vienna on the WOD is at mile 12; 19 miles from Capitol Hill. I've only driven a car on the stretch of Penn towards Maryland, so I can't estimate the miles, but it seems like it would be longer than 6-8 miles. I could easily be wrong though.
    I did Penns Ave a couple of times when going to Uppermarlb. from our main office in DC but I don't remember details. Anyway "Alea Jacta Est" : ) I have the bike and all the stuff ready. Even the alarm clock set at 5. I remembered the hills; I don't think they'll kill me. The total milage one way is 28 miles and Penns alone is 8.7 according to mapquest. My question mark is how motivated I will be in the afternoon... I guess after 4 or 5 miles I will be feeling better


    I am working in DC tomorrow on the hill. If you get in a bind, give me a call: PHONE EDITED OUT BY MOD
    THANKS BUDDY :ThumbsUp:
    A California ordinance states that a $500 fine will be given to anyone who detonates a nuclear device within city limits.

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    Don't trust mapquest. You're better off with google maps in my experience. I hope you had a great ride.

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    OK I Did it and all went very good !
    I learned a couple of lessons... At 05:30AM it's DARK (duh) and I have not one light, so the first 40 minutes were slow and in almost total darkness through the W&OD. A biker yelled at me and another one didn't do it but I'm sure he thought it. I'm sorry to both! I'm getting a light today. Once I got into the Custis it was better. The Custis has lights.
    Once I crossed the Arl. Mem. bridge I got lost and couldn't find Independence or Constitution so I pedaled the 17thST to Pennsylavania Av. and ended in G.W.B's front yard. I asked directions to a cop and kept on going.
    The Pennsylvania Ave at that hour is very ridable all the way. I rode a small part on the sidewalk right after the Sousa Bridge because it was too busy to risk. Penns. Av. has three long climbs and almost no downhills following, so I'm hopefull I'll get the downs when I return : )
    All in all with the darkness and some lost time finding streets I did 26 miles in 1:57.
    It was cold! I brought along a goretex jacket that saved me.
    Now awaits to see how the return works out.
    I feel very energized. This is one of the coolest things I've done in a long time!
    A California ordinance states that a $500 fine will be given to anyone who detonates a nuclear device within city limits.

  17. #17
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    Good for you. Some advice that I learned the hard way. Take along some food for energy going home (bar, gel, fruit, etc.). The Custis is a lot more diificult the reverse way. Essentially you are doing about four miles of steadily uphill. Plus the wind usually blows out of the northweat so you may also fighta headwind. Try taking the food in about the time you get close to the Capitol and that should give you a boost.

  18. #18
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    Tribe3 congratulations on a long tough ride. Good luck on the trip home.
    God grant me the serenity to accept the hills and winds I cannot change;
    courage to challenge the cagers I can; and wisdom to know the difference.
    (with apologies to AA)
    24 mi. roundtrip -- Maryland suburbs to DC and back.

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    Nice job! I was hoping you'd post a follow-up to let us know how it went.

    As for the Memorial Bridge, the easiest (and safest) way to go is to stay on the bike path and cross under the bridge on the Virginia side, then take a right and loop back up so you end up on the downstream (SE) side of the bridge going over the river. You'll be on a paved bike path the whole time. Don't take that little dirt path on the north side - I've seen so many close calls with people scurrying across the Parkway as 70mph traffic comes shooting out from under the bridge... very scary. Also, a friend of mine broke his arm when he ran into somebody coming the other way on that dirt path.

    Then, once you're on the DC side, there's some construction but go right around in front of the Lincoln Memorial, and down the wide path next to the reflecting pool all the way past the WWII Memorial and around the Washington Monument. This will stick you onto a nice little street in front of the museums all the way to the Capitol, where you can ignore the "no bicycles" sign and ride through the steep access road on the capitol grounds. Do it right and it will put you directly at the top of Pennsylvania Ave SE. Much nicer and safer than Independance Ave, in my opinion, and just as fast.

    At that hour, you might not encounter a single car from the bridge to the Capitol. But you'll probably see other bike commuters :-)
    Last edited by same time; 09-07-05 at 02:21 PM. Reason: edited to get my directions straight.

  20. #20
    Calamari to go cc_rider's Avatar
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    Agree with same time about the Memorial bridge and monuments. Riding down the Mall is preittier than riding the sidepaths on Constitution or Independence.

    Might want to be careful about the Capitol grounds. A couple times I've seen bikes try to enter, and the Capitol Hill police have swarmed to chase them away, (once with hands on holsters) Might depend on the color-of-the-day. I usually go right at 3rd, cross Independence, and take Washington Avenue (the right-diagonal past the Ameican Indian Museum) to D or E street and left to Penn. Gets you around the Capitol Hill security zone.

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    Quote Originally Posted by StanSeven
    Good for you. Some advice that I learned the hard way. Take along some food for energy going home (bar, gel, fruit, etc.). The Custis is a lot more diificult the reverse way. Essentially you are doing about four miles of steadily uphill. Plus the wind usually blows out of the northweat so you may also fighta headwind. Try taking the food in about the time you get close to the Capitol and that should give you a boost.
    HAHAHA!! why didn't I read this BEFORE starting home!! You are SO right, the Custis is a ***** coming back and I had half powerbar I wanted to inject directly into my veins! lol I also found a couple of Dextro tablets in the bottom of my camelback but it wasn't enough. The wind is like you say also head-on. I definitely found it more draining coming than going. Next time (Friday) I'll eat better.
    The good part is Pennsylvania Ave is tilted the right way coming back so there was almost nine no-sweat miles.
    With all, the balance is highly positive. I'm exultant.
    Thanks everyone for tips and comments!
    A California ordinance states that a $500 fine will be given to anyone who detonates a nuclear device within city limits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by same time
    Nice job! I was hoping you'd post a follow-up to let us know how it went.

    As for the Memorial Bridge, the easiest (and safest) way to go is to stay on the bike path and cross under the bridge on the Virginia side, then take a right and loop back up so you end up on the downstream (SE) side of the bridge going over the river. You'll be on a paved bike path the whole time. Don't take that little dirt path on the north side - I've seen so many close calls with people scurrying across the Parkway as 70mph traffic comes shooting out from under the bridge... very scary. Also, a friend of mine broke his arm when he ran into somebody coming the other way on that dirt path.

    Then, once you're on the DC side, there's some construction but go right around in front of the Lincoln Memorial, and down the wide path next to the reflecting pool all the way past the WWII Memorial and around the Washington Monument. This will stick you onto a nice little street in front of the museums all the way to the Capitol, where you can ignore the "no bicycles" sign and ride through the steep access road on the capitol grounds. Do it right and it will put you directly at the top of Pennsylvania Ave SE. Much nicer and safer than Independance Ave, in my opinion, and just as fast.

    At that hour, you might not encounter a single car from the bridge to the Capitol. But you'll probably see other bike commuters :-)
    Good advice! I did just that. Went down those dirt trails and crossed the parkway with the bike on my shoulder and also the bridge with cars racing all over me.
    A California ordinance states that a $500 fine will be given to anyone who detonates a nuclear device within city limits.

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    Quote Originally Posted by cc_rider
    Agree with same time about the Memorial bridge and monuments. Riding down the Mall is preittier than riding the sidepaths on Constitution or Independence.

    Might want to be careful about the Capitol grounds. A couple times I've seen bikes try to enter, and the Capitol Hill police have swarmed to chase them away, (once with hands on holsters) Might depend on the color-of-the-day. I usually go right at 3rd, cross Independence, and take Washington Avenue (the right-diagonal past the Ameican Indian Museum) to D or E street and left to Penn. Gets you around the Capitol Hill security zone.
    This one cop inside his cruiser "protecting" the east side of White House was so asleep at about 6:15... I tried to ask him directions but didn't want to ruin his nap so I crossed in front of Mr. President's house and asked the other one. (Maybe they were taking turns?)
    A California ordinance states that a $500 fine will be given to anyone who detonates a nuclear device within city limits.

  24. #24
    Calamari to go cc_rider's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tribe3
    ...You are SO right, the Custis is a ***** coming back and I had half powerbar I wanted to inject directly into my veins!....
    Yep. Don'tcha love that S curve climb near Spout Run.

    If you want to avoid a few hills, instead of going 3 miles north from the Memorial Bridge, go 3 miles south to the head of the Four Mile Run Trail and take it to Shirlington. Then pick up the WsOD. Adds 2 1/2 miles, only a couple of climbs, but not as pretty.

  25. #25
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    Okay, can I hijack this thread to ask for help? I live in Rockville, near the Rio (let's say the corner of Key West and Shady Grove Road, if you want to map it) and I work on Executive Drive near Montrose Road.

    I want to ride, but I don't see a good way to avoid Rockville Pike; the one route I thought of was to take Gude the whole way to Rockville Pike, but then I saw RP and realized that it's probably a bad idea.

    Thoughts? Ideas?

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