Last year, when I tried WABA’s 50 States ride for the first time, I only rode 41 of the named state streets. This year, I was determined to ride all 50. And I did it!
In the Beginning
There were a multitude of bicyclists congregated in the park, and I still marvel that there were so many taking part in this event, and there are so many different types of cyclists and bicycles.
Rootchopper and Bicyclebug were already at the start location when I got there. Justin, Kirstin and her husband Tom arrived later. We hung back towards the end of the line and slowly edged up to the start.
The first 13 miles were easy, riding around Thomas Circle and the White House. This year, they added a loop around Hains Point, which is always nice.
The 50 States ride is probably the only organized ride in DC where it is common to overhear someone say that they’ll divert from the ride to go home. As the ride winds through all eight wards of the District, chances are pretty good that if you live in DC, the route will go by your place. In my head, I said hi to my apartment (Southwest represent!), but it was too soon to think about going home.
The first rest stop was at the Anacostia Park. There, I met up with Darsal, Felkerino, and MG. After a quick respite, Bicyclebug, Rootchopper, and I set off to tackle the hills.
Now, I knew from last year that the Hills of Anacostia were no joke, so I was determined to conserve energy so that I could roll smoothly over them. I took the cue from Rootchopper’s pace and rode behind him the whole way, which proved to be an excellent strategy for me. I was able to keep up and feel pretty strong, although I admit to slipping to the granny gear for many of the hills.
We fell in with a part of the Black Women Bike DC contingent, along with one gentleman from Texas and another from New York. They were great to ride with. When we got to Texas Avenue SE, the group insisted that the Texas man have his photo taken at the road sign– yet another one of the great traditions of this ride.
Rest stop #2 was at Eastern Market. I was starving. I was originally going to get a crepe from the crepe truck, but I saw the Indian stand, so I had that instead. The food was good, but I really should have gotten a crepe.
When it comes down to it, DC is hilly. There’s just no way around it. This year’s Northeast route wended through neighborhoods that I would like to explore again. However, the hill on Hawaii Avenue is one of my least favorites to ride on, and it was here where I hit the wall and started to doubt whether I could finish. This was around the 40-mile mark, which seems like when my low feelings typically begin to appear for me.
Our Friday Coffee Club friends would appear throughout the route here and again. Far and away, Bike DC friends were what makes the ride so much fun. We rode with Kirstin and Tom for much of the ride between the Northeast and Northwest sections– I had never ridden with them before, so it was a treat to chat with them. It was their first time doing the 50 States– they did a great job handling the roads.
There was a section coming from a downhill where we had a stop sign, but the opposing traffic did not. The group stopped, but I was lagging behind, and pulled up sharply. In trying to avoid crashing into Kirstin, I swung to the side, but managed to fall down on my left knee in the process. ouch.
Rest stop #3 was at Mike and Lisa’s house again. As we rode by, we heard Mike bellow, “ROOTchopper!” That became the rallying cry at the stop.
By this time, the sky was starting to turn dark. Rain was in the forecast. Do we keep going on? Will we beat the rain? We decided to forge ahead. As soon as we headed toward Rock Creek Park, the skies opened up and it started pouring. I put on my reflective vest and turned on my lights. I had debated the night before whether to bring a rain jacket, but that had meant bringing the trunk bag, which I didn’t want to do. I regretted that decision, but there was nothing to be done about that.
We decided to skip the American University rest stop and keep going. The downhill on Nebraska Avenue leading to Arizona Avenue was a little scary– I squeezed the brakes and hoped that the cars would be kind enough to let us make the left turn, and luckily they did.
The last five miles of climbs sucked. It was wet, I was tired, and I could no longer keep up with Rootchopper on the hills. At Idaho Avenue NW, the road was closed, so I took the detour around to 38th Street. (For the record, I did not get lost, John!) Finally, I crossed the bridge at Adams Morgan and made it to the finish, completely soaked. I did it!
MG, Felkerino, Darsal, and Kate were already at the finish. Rootchopper came later– apparently he was waiting for me in the rain when he had discovered I was no longer behind him. Sorry! We shared a pizza with Darsal and Kate, and after two slices and a beer, I felt much better and was ready to go back out in the rain and head home.
I was chilled from being wet and being in the air-conditioned restaurant, and I shivered the whole way home. A hot shower and dry clothes set me back to rights. Whew!
All told, 75.32 miles (including riding to the start and back home), about 2677 feet of climbing, 7 hours and 21 minutes of riding time, about 9 hours overall. Thanks to all the Bike DC folks for a fantastic ride, and thanks very much to Ryan, Rachel, Alex, and all the WABA volunteers who made this ride possible.