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Is there such a thing as unrestricted riding near Washington DC

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Is there such a thing as unrestricted riding near Washington DC

Old 04-22-18, 09:07 AM
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Is there such a thing as unrestricted riding near Washington DC

I moved to the Alexandria VA area last summer and have ridden with a couple club ride, all urban routes. I've ridden the W&OD trail, Four Mile Run trail and Mt Vernon trail...all being choppy with lots of foot traffic and stops. The Mt Vernon trail is almost dangerous for road bikers, and yesterday on the W&OD I saw a bike down at a road intersection that had just been hit by a car, on a trail with dozens of road intersections every mile or two. There's got to be better places to ride near here, I hope.

Here's what I mean--came here from Las Vegas NV and Sumter SC previously. In both places, there was more road miles with shoulders that I had time to ride. Half century and more were easily possible straight from my house, stopping at convenience stores for water. Not much in the way of bike paths, but lots and lots of roads that were wide open and unobstructed, roads where you could hammer almost without stopping for 10+ miles if you didn't want to. Just get on the shoulder and hammer. DC definitely is not like that.

So, are there areas, paths/trails/roads or club rides semi-near with such wide open road biking areas? I am certainly willing to drive some, but would prefer to ride from home when possible. Any help very appreciated!
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Old 04-22-18, 10:24 AM
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Have you tried Hains Point? Probably not exactly what you are looking for but might be closer then the trails you listed.

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Old 04-22-18, 11:50 AM
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The short answer is “no”. The metro DC area is so large that you’ll probably drive for an hour to get to decent suburban/rural cycling, and DC drivers aren’t noted for their general consideration toward other road users. I used to live in DC, and I would move back in a heartbeat if I could afford it, but I know that I would be essentially giving up the routine long distance lightly trafficked rural riding that I currently enjoy here in NC. Even the few amenable routes (Hains Point was mentioned) are short, so you’d end up doing endless circuits to rack up any miles. When I lived there, I just switched to a different sort of riding - I bought a hybrid and rode around downtown enjoying the sights and the atmosphere - never tired of it. Locked up the (pretty inexpensive) bike when I wanted to stop off and do something. Became a “recreational” rather than a “roadie”.

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Old 04-22-18, 12:32 PM
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Despite not ever loving it when I lived there, DC can be EXCEPTIONAL for riding. Cross the river with some bigger tires and ride the C&O for hours without seeing a single car. Go out to Poolesville and beyond and the road riding is awesome. Or drive out west an hour and do Skyline and Mount Weather and a bunch of crazy awesome rides.

The VA side kind of stinks and I’d slash my wrists if I had to ride the W&OD all the time. Never understood how ppl do that.
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Old 04-22-18, 12:37 PM
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I don’t know the (close in) VA side very well, so I can’t speak to your exact location and riding in the immediate area. However, I live in DC proper and haven’t had the same experience as you.

It takes me about 10 minutes on urban, busy, traffic-laden streets to get to MacArthur Blvd. Once there, it’s pretty much a 45 minute non-stop ride (three minor lights, which you rarely catch) to the first major intersection (Falls and River Rd). Hang a left on River and within another 20 minuts, again with no lights or stops, you’re in the country with lots of gorgeous roads. Neither MacArthur nor River are country roads and the shoulders aren’t great, but they get a lot of bike traffic and drivers are pretty good about respecting us and passing with care. You can get to them by coming across either on Key Bridge and catching MacArthur in Georgetown or on Chain Bridge and then a short climb up Arizona.

I’ll admit that having one major route out of town can get boring and repetitive. But I see myself as pretty blessed to be able to live in a vibrant urban area and be able to ride good roads straight out the door. If I get tired of cars, I grab the gravel bike and hop on the C&O. If I get tired of the C&O, I hop in the car and within 45 minutes am griding scenic gravel near Leesburg. If I get tired of Leesburg, I hop in the car and within 45 minutes can do big (by mid-Atlantic standards) climbs in Frederick.

Really, I there’s more riding here than I have time to do.
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Old 04-22-18, 12:38 PM
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Originally Posted by November Dave
Despite not ever loving it when I lived there, DC can be EXCEPTIONAL for riding. Cross the river with some bigger tires and ride the C&O for hours without seeing a single car. Go out to Poolesville and beyond and the road riding is awesome. Or drive out west an hour and do Skyline and Mount Weather and a bunch of crazy awesome rides.

The VA side kind of stinks and I’d slash my wrists if I had to ride the W&OD all the time. Never understood how ppl do that.
Seconded.
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Old 04-22-18, 04:14 PM
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See the capital area rides recorded on Strava: https://www.strava.com/heatmap#11.94/-77.05654/38.88842/gray/ride .
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Old 04-23-18, 03:14 AM
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When I lived in the area, Md 2 south out of Annapolis was pretty much like that -- good shoulder all the way. Md 214 wasn't bad either, though not during commute periods. In NoVa, the problem is so many roads were cowpaths until suburbia reached there. By the time the roads get upgraded they are packed with traffic and lights.

In general I found southern Maryland (Charles, St Marys, Calvert) very good for cycling.

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Old 04-23-18, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by stealthfixr
I moved to the Alexandria VA area last summer and have ridden with a couple club ride, all urban routes. I've ridden the W&OD trail, Four Mile Run trail and Mt Vernon trail...all being choppy with lots of foot traffic and stops. The Mt Vernon trail is almost dangerous for road bikers, and yesterday on the W&OD I saw a bike down at a road intersection that had just been hit by a car, on a trail with dozens of road intersections every mile or two. There's got to be better places to ride near here, I hope.

Here's what I mean--came here from Las Vegas NV and Sumter SC previously. In both places, there was more road miles with shoulders that I had time to ride. Half century and more were easily possible straight from my house, stopping at convenience stores for water. Not much in the way of bike paths, but lots and lots of roads that were wide open and unobstructed, roads where you could hammer almost without stopping for 10+ miles if you didn't want to. Just get on the shoulder and hammer. DC definitely is not like that.

So, are there areas, paths/trails/roads or club rides semi-near with such wide open road biking areas? I am certainly willing to drive some, but would prefer to ride from home when possible. Any help very appreciated!

For longer rides, find your way to Potomac MD. That's where most of the area group rides go on the weekend. Go on ridewithgps or Strava and look for routes using these roads: MacArthur Blvd, Persimmon Tree, Glen Road, Tuckerman, Seven Locks. A little farther out on the way to Poolesville MD, look for routes using Esworthy, River Road, Partnership, Whites Ferry.


There are several group ride workouts at Hains Point, also called East Potomac Park, which should be pretty easy for you to ride to from Alexandria. Hains Point Hammerfest is Tuesday and Thursday morning at 630 to 730am, that meets at the corner of Buckeye Drive and Ohio Drive. There is usually an A group for going faster and a B group at a more relaxed pace. Thursday evenings at 6pm is a popular fast ride at Hains point too.
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Old 04-23-18, 06:49 PM
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I live in MD near the USDA research center and there is a lot of great road riding around here. Much of Howard county is good too. I also agree with the suggestion for areas in and around Potomac.

I’m sure there are wide open roads further out in Virginia too but I’m not as familiar with them.

In general I try to avoid multi use paths in the area unless I am towing my kids. It is way too crowded and often narrow and winding for riding fast.

Hains point is nice if you want to ride laps.
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