I am staying in DC for a week this summer for a family vacation. We are renting an apartment in Capitol Hill.
I am a road cyclist and not especially comfortable with urban traffic. I like to ride hard.
Anyway, I am wondering if it's worth it to bring my road bike with me. I would like to find a way to get in a few 2-3 hour bike rides during the week, but if the bike paths are full of pedestrians etc. then it may not be worthwhile. OTOH if I can find a reasonably safe way to get out and have a few hard rides I would like that.
Any of my DC brethren have some suggestions? I generally dislike MUPs because they are generally too crowded, but I am willing to consider them especially if they can get me to an area where I can have some good road riding.
p.s. I run too so if the cycling does not work out, I can just go run instead. I am guessing that may make more sense. I would rather ride than run (duh) of course.
November, Trek OCLV, Bianchi Castro Valley commuter
Huge roadie scene in the DC area. Check WABA, Washington Area Bike Forum , Potomac Pedalers or their unofficial google email list to get started. If you are of a racing bent, there are a number of DC-area roadies in the Road Bike Racing forum and MABRA has a email list on Google. Contact bike shops - several shop rides and they may have better suggestions on riding to fit your style & schedule, also on bike rentals. There are several close-in weeknight group rides in DC and Arlington, VA, and I think there is a Wed night training crit series underway in Greenbelt MD (see MABRA). On Sundays, I believe Rock Creek Parkway is closed to vehicles. A lot of the "escape" routes are on MUPS (Capitol Crescent, Mt Vernon, Custis and W&OD). If you prefer non-technical gravel, the C&O Towpath runs 185 miles from Georgetown to Cumberland MD. I am more familiar with what's available out in the western Fairfax County suburbs (loops off the W&OD t@ mile 18-20, or just keep going) where the competing traffic is not quite as hectic as it can get closer to DC. Plenty of running options is you decide to that instead. Have a great visit.
On weekends most of Beach Drive in DC is closed to cars. Good hills climbing out of the Rock Creek valley. Continue on Beach Drive north into Montgomery County and you can get to some more good riding areas.
West on MacArthur Blvd gets you to River Road and some more rural areas towards Poolesville.
From Greenbelt you can get to the USDA Research Facility, Bowie, Waldorf and rural parts of Prince George county..
Some MUPs don’t have much of a crowd. The Anacostia Trail system is an underused gem, as is the upper part of the Rock Creek Trail.
To avoid some of the city riding, you can take the Metro to a station at the end of a line (Vienna, Greenbelt, Shady Grove) and start your ride from there.
Since you’ll be on Capitol Hill, you and your family might consider Capitol Bikeshare for getting around town and site seeing.
And I strongly recommend doing a monuments-by-moonlight ride.
My goal is to get up early (if I am up for it) and get out and ride in the morning for 2-3 hours. I do like to ride reasonably hard.
From looking at the maps and web, it seems that if I want something close but boring it makes sense to just do laps around Hains Point.
The other option that looks interesting is the W&OD trail, although it might be a little bit of a challenge to get from Capitol Hill to the Trail. Maybe take the Mt Vernon Trail to the 4 Mile Run trail to get to W&OD??
Does this sound reasonable? I am also possibly interested in a few group rides but it looks like the weekday group rides are noon or evening rides, and my riding will have to be early (will probably be riding from 7-9AM).
Giant Transend, Salsa Pistola, Raleigh M60, Raleigh Sport Touring Team USA
It kind of depends where on Capitol Hill you'll be. My usual route is to go down to E St SE, turn left on New Jersey SE to cross under I-395, then right on I St SE over to a left on 7th St SW to a right on Water St SW. This takes you past the Fish Market where you get on the sidewalk to again go under I-395 coming out at Ohio Dr SW. Here you have the choice of going down to do laps around East Potomac Park (Hains Point) or swing around the Jefferson Memorial to get on the 14th St Bridge (also labled the George Mason Bridge) where you connect with the Mt Vernon Trail. Go north there and you connect with the Custis Trail just past Roosevelt Island (be extra careful at the trail crossing at the Lynn St/Lee Highway intersection!). Go south and you connect with the 4 Mile Run Trail south of the Airport. From 7 to 9 am you will be in good company with lots of cyclists out commuting or doing training rides. Also lots of runners.
In case anyone is following this thread (doubtful!!) or in case this turns up in a future search, I wanted to give details on my DC experience.
I went on 3 rides while I was there.
The first one was a Sunday shop ride sponsored by "The Bike Rack," it was by far the best ride of the three. The riders were nearly all strong and experienced with group riding. Highly recommend this group. Thanks to "Chuck," one of the owners of the store, and who led the ride.
The second ride was from Capitol Hill to Hains Point. The ride to/from Hains point was through downtown so it was pretty shaky. The roads in DC sometimes abruptly end and can dump you on a one-way street the opposite way you want to go. There are some bike lanes but cars will double-park there and I almost got doored a few times. Once at Hains Point you can hammer all you want, but it's flat and after about 3 times around the 3-mile course I started to get a little bored. The view along the river is still pretty good. I would rate this ride second.
The third ride was on some of the trails. I actually rode downtown past Hains Point (similar to ride #2 above) and crossed into VA, took the Mt Vernon Trail along the river heading south, to the 4 mile trail, to the W&OD trail. These trails are MUP trails which, as a roadie, I don't generally care for. No motor vehicles, but plenty of cyclists (some going fast, some going slow), joggers, walkers, dog walkers, etc. Once inland the trails seemed to have what I considered a high frequency of stop signs to cross roads, stop lights, and even a few discontinuities (where you are dumped into a neighborhood and have to ride a couple of blocks to get back on the trail).
This was the least favorite ride for me. I think the trails are probably great for "recreational/sight-seeing" rides if the goal is to tootle along at 10MPH but if you want to ride faster, the only thing that will get a workout are your brakes and your nerves.
Even so, I enjoyed each ride for the blessing it was, and overall I had a great time in DC.
datlas, I do most of my riding on the MUPs because there aren't any cars. I can average 16-18 Mohammed, and spend plenty of time pushing hard and going fast. Yes, there are plenty of human and domestic pet obstacles, but I go into the ride expecting it, and I am generally quite happy. It isn't perfect, but it's better than getting smoked by so e inattentive driver.