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Old 01-17-09, 04:49 PM   #1
JimF22003
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People Get Ready

It was a balmy 17 degrees this morning, just outside the nation's capital, so I decided to ride into downtown DC to see how the inauguration preparations were coming along.

This was the first time I'd ridden in temps below about 30 degrees for any length of time, so I was a bit concerned, but ended up doing OK. The major additions to my usual clothing armada were some North Face long johns, some new PI Amphib Lobster Claw gloves, and some PI shoe covers. I wore both a skullcap and a balaclava for the first time. The only things that ended up a bit uncomfortable were my nose and cheeks, and my fingers mainly from when I took my gloves off to take the following pics:

I rode in on the 4-Mile run trail to the Mt Vernon Trail past the Reagan National Airport. Notice the ducks at the end of the runway trying to decide if they want to be "ingested" or not:



In a couple more days the trails will be about the only way into town from the DC side other than by metro. Notice the warning that the GW Parkway will be closed:



From underneath the 14th Street Bridge you see the Washington Monument across the frozen Potomac. (God Bless You Lenny Skutnick):



I rode across the 14th Street Bridge. Somewhere around here there's supposed to be a bike valet service for next Tuesday. I didn't see any signs of it, but it's a bit early. This picture of the Jefferson Memorial is relevant to BikeForm because I was sitting on my bike when I took it:



Next I made my way over to the Lincoln Memorial. Now it was getting hard to get around. Many of the roads were blocked off and there were cops at most of the intersections. They were doing sound checks at the Memorial for the concert on Sunday Night. Personally I thought it was kind of cruel to be listening to James Taylor's "Carolina on My Mind" in the sub-20-degree weather:



Down and along the mall there were tons of media trucks (almost as many as the Port-a-Potties):



Here's the MSNBC mini-studio:



(cont.)
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Old 01-17-09, 04:50 PM   #2
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Finally it was down to the capitol where the swearing-in ceremony. Most people aren't going to be able to get anywhere near as close as I got. Most people will be seeing it via Jumbotron:



But I got pretty close. Here's a shot of the capitol steps where the ceremony will take place:



Finally I headed down Pennsylvania Ave. Pres. Obama won't be seeing this kind of traffic:



The cops had some of the route cordoned off already:






I had to cut through the park and down various sidewalks to make it to the front of the Big Prize (the White House.) Again this pic is indistinguishable from millions of other pics except for the fact that I took it while I was on my bike:



Now I was getting from cold from slow moving and slaloming around the tourists. I decided it was time to get out of Dodge, so it was back across the Memorial Bridge. Here's a shot looking back across the frozen Potomac again:



As soon as I got moving I warmed up pretty well. I was close to five miles away from downtown, but noticed they already had signs up directing bike and pedestrian traffic:



I was considering riding in for the inaugural on Tuesday, but I probably won't now. The crowds were already very heavy three days before the event, and I think it will be next to impossible to get anywhere close to the action without a ticket. Just riding into the general area on the local trails will be like your worst-ever MUP-induced nightmare.

I'm glad I went down to check it out today. Tuesday I'm staying in and watching it on TV...
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Old 01-17-09, 04:53 PM   #3
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I concur that watching on TV or the Internet is arguably the best way to view the festivities.
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Old 01-17-09, 05:16 PM   #4
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I heard on NPR this morning that there will be two large outlying bike parking lots. It sounded like the Secret Service wouldn't be comfortable with high-mobility cyclists moving in the secure zone.

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Old 01-17-09, 05:22 PM   #5
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Interesting photo essay. Thanks. I live about 100 miles from DC and nearby hotels are booked solid with people trying to go to the inauguration. It's going to be crazy up there.

I would take my hat off to you for riding in 17 degree weather, JimF, but it's too cold.
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Old 01-17-09, 05:45 PM   #6
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Thanks for braving the cold and for sharing your ride with us. The last time we were in DC on a vacation stop we enjoyed the easy access by bikes. It was a great way to get around.
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Old 01-17-09, 06:21 PM   #7
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Thanks for all the excellent photos Jim! I won't even be watching it on TV but it does look like its going to be a great celebration in Wash. D.C.

Photos from the bike are fine; they don't really need any additional justification.

Thanks again for sharing!

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Old 01-17-09, 08:03 PM   #8
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Neat photos. Thanks for posting. Talk about riding through history.
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Old 01-17-09, 09:41 PM   #9
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Nice 'before' photos.
I heard on the Internet that there will be 350 billion people in D.C. for the Inauguration. Or, maybe that was the Bailout $ they were talking about.
Will only seem like 350 billion people.
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Old 01-18-09, 01:04 AM   #10
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Thanks for sacrificing your comfort to provide us these pictures. Most people won't see before, just during, when the crush of humanity will limit the view.

I was in DC two years ago April, during one of the rare snowfalls, and we drove the boulevards you pictured, and walked about the Lincoln Memorial and the reflecting pond, at night, marveling at the number of tourists there. No bikes were involved so I suppose this is irrelevant.

I'll be getting up early on Tuesday to stay current with the events. I will be watching on tv, despite our spring-like temperatures. You couldn't pay me enough to attend live -- too many people.
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Old 01-18-09, 08:25 AM   #11
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Thanks for the pictures. Tuesday will be a great day for all of us.
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Old 01-18-09, 09:50 AM   #12
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JimF22003-- nice photos. I ride the "airport loop" from Falls Church, down to the Custis Trail to the Mt Vernon trail, and back up the W&OD often. I did it last between Christmas and New Years when it was under forty degrees, and came to the conclusion then that it is going to be too cold. It would be one thing if you could keep moving, but with the foot traffic I suspect walking might be just as fast. I have thought about taking a neighborhood ride (with low expectations) just to check out what the traffic on 66 looks like inside the beltway, and how conjested the trails actually are. Absolutely no expectations of making it to the mall though-- will be home to watch the parade and swearing-in.
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