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Old 07-14-06, 04:15 AM   #1
trmcgeehan
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Touring D.C.? Use a bike!

My wife and I visited Washington, DC over the fourth of July. We rode from Alexandria, VA on the Mt. Vernon bike path along the Potomac and took one of the bridges into D.C. We rode our new Fuji touring bikes. This is a great way to see D.C. Driving a car into DC is a miserable experience. There were lots of people walking from monument to monument, and it's a long way from the capital to the Lincoln Memorial. Going by bike, we cut the time from one monument to the next considerably. We put 35 miles on our bikes that day. This is definitely the best way to see the DC monuments. The new WWII memorial was great, and we visited the newly opened portrait museum (part of the Smithsonian). We spent three hours in the museum, and could have spent all day -- it was that interesting. We also went to the Marine barracks where we saw a great sunset parade featuring the Marine band and a crack drill team. You wouldn;t believe the drill team. Fifty Marines in dress blues lined up in a straight line, with M-1 rifles fitted with bayonettes. The commanding officer approached the first Marine, standing about 6 feet away. All of a sudden, the first Marine flipped his 10.5 pound rifle with the bayonette on it over his back. The rifle went cartwheeling over the head of the commanding officer. The officer grabbed the rifle in mid-air, brought it down, inspected it, and then flipped the rifle over his back. It cartwheeled over the head of the first Marine, who grabbed it and came to attention. This happened fifty times, and not one dropped the rifle. Truly amazing. Tickets are free, but hard to get. I got our tickets by calling my local congressman, who got them for us. You can get to the barracks via subway, which is the way to go around DC. The subway stopped within three blocks of the barracks. There are a lot of great restaurants and sidewalk cafes on the way to the barracks.
You can take your bike on the subway at no charge.
Along the Mt. Vernon bike trail, we were amazed at how many recumbents we saw. And most were really flying. In Alexandria, near the bike path, there are three bike shops who rent decent bikes. We also saw some rental Segues (sp?), the two wheel contraption that you ride standing up. We locked our bikes at each monument, taking our computers and headlights with us. No one bothered the bikes. I think there's one company who rents bikes in DC, and gives you a tape recorder so you can conduct your own tour and learn about each monument.
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Old 07-14-06, 06:48 AM   #2
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I concur that riding a bike is probably the best way to get around DC. A few years ago I went with a company that offers rental bikes along with guided tours of the monuments. The guide was extremely knowledgable about the various monuments we stopped at, and I didn't feel rushed at all. Their shop is conveniently located within a few blocks of a Metro stop. After the tour, I rented the bike I had used for the rest of the day and explored the Canal path on my own.

See http://www.bikethesites.com
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Old 07-14-06, 07:50 AM   #3
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Glad you liked it.
For us, those are the daily rides.
Weekends, for fun rides, we often head out of town. Good biking out in the country not too far away.
Leave the local sites to you visitors.

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Old 07-14-06, 08:26 AM   #4
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Glad you had a good time. I agree, bike is the best way to get around DC.

I live about a mile from the Marine Barracks, and have been meaning to go see the parades for... six years now? After reading your description, I'm definitely getting my lazy but over there.

I hope you stopped by Capitol Hill Bikes across the street from the Marine Barracks! Great shop.
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Old 07-14-06, 01:15 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trmcgeehan
Along the Mt. Vernon bike trail, we were amazed at how many recumbents we saw.
What kind of recumbents were people riding? Long Wheel base, Short Wheel base, high racers, low racers etc?
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Old 07-14-06, 01:21 PM   #6
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This is a great area for riding.

Since the WOD is so flat, there are a ton of recumbents on the 45 mile trail. There is a great recumbent and folding bike shop along the trail as well. www.bikesatvienna.com

Bike Washington is a great source for DC information. There is a Bike Washington YAHOO group that is active and quite helpful. http://bikewashington.org/

Hope to see everyone on the trails!
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Old 07-14-06, 01:39 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dahon.Steve
What kind of recumbents were people riding? Long Wheel base, Short Wheel base, high racers, low racers etc?
On Beach Drive two weekends ago I saw a pace line of 3 recumbents. All short and low.



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Hope to see everyone on the trails!
Nah! Thinking about Poolsville to Sugarloaf tomorrow.
As I said, fun out of town.
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Old 07-14-06, 03:09 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cc_rider
Nah! Thinking about Poolsville to Sugarloaf tomorrow.
As I said, fun out of town.
I am jealous. I have been laid out for 3 months now with a bad knee. I can't ride more than 20-30 minutes.

For anyone else thinking of coming to the District, a lot of these out of town rides are discussed on the BikeWashington site and are accessible with a little public transportation. Also, one of the biggest cycling clubs is in the U.S. is local to the area. There are dozens of rides every weekend listed on the Potomac Peddlers webpage.

http://www.bikepptc.org/
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Old 07-14-06, 03:21 PM   #9
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Touring the monuments last year on bike is what got me into riding - biking in the city is the way to go for sure. Traffic jams aren't a problem, there's always free parking, and plenty of bike culture around here. Only problem are the intersections and lights, but only 20 miles outside of the city the intersections dissappear and there's hundreds of miles of low traffic roads to get miles in. And in some weird twist of fate, the PPTC setup a metric century was drawn up that starts smack in the middle of DC at Dupont Circle for Saturday at 9am
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Old 07-14-06, 04:56 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rpc180
... the PPTC setup a metric century was drawn up that starts smack in the middle of DC at Dupont Circle for Saturday at 9am
Looks interesting. Thanks.
Normally I only look at the c, cc and cc/b rides, so I missed that one. Sounds like it has the tough hills in the middle with a fairly easy finish.
Now I've got a choice ... short drive to Dupont Circle or long to Poolsville.

edit - didn't do either ride. Had to make a drop off to a client this morning, then get a replacement box from Cox Cable. From there went to Trailside, rode W&OD to Leesburg, then cross country on Woodburn, Harmony Church, etc. Ended up in Purcellville and took the trail and parallel roads back. Good hill work, and speed work on the flats.

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Old 07-15-06, 04:18 AM   #11
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Recumbents

I don't know what kind of recumbents I saw on the Mt. Vernon bike path -- they were coming at me so fast, I really couldn't see them. One thing I noticed -- just about all of the riders had big smiles on their faces.
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Old 07-17-06, 08:35 PM   #12
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Thanks for the links guys! Was in DC last summer with my kiddos (subway & on foot) and kept thinking that it would be cool to do DC by bike someday. Currently am collecting info for a future tour there & your links are what I need!
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