Today’s topic: Enjoying what’s around you.
My husband and I settled in the Washington DC area in the summer of 1985. We were both originally from northeast Ohio. Every time one of our relatives came to visit, we would do the usual tourist thing by taking them to Washington DC to see the usual sights.
Fast forward 30plus years. We both have found the joy in riding bicycles. My husband and son are a little more into it that I am. They love riding road bicycles (yes, there is a difference) for hours on end and logging 100 miles in a day. Me, not so much. I’m more of the hybrid cyclist, where I can ride on pavement if I wish, or I can ride on an unpaved trail. I am not a fan of roads, because of the traffic and hills. My favorite trails are the rail trails. These are converted railroad lines, so they are relatively flat. Probably my greatest accomplishment to date is completing the Great Alleghany Passage/C&O Towpath trail from Pittsburgh, PA to Georgetown in 8 days. If you’d like to read about that adventure, check out my other blog on this site entitled Our Big Bicycling Adventure.
This past Sunday we drove down to Gravely Point in DC to begin our ride around the city. Gravely Point is at the end of the main runway for Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. You can literally see the underbelly of the plane as it’s taking off. Pretty cool. We rode from Gravely Point north along the Potomac up past Arlington National Cemetery on the left and Teddy Roosevelt Island on the right.
We wound our way up to Rosslyn and rode the bike path across the bridge into Georgetown. To get to the next part of the path, we had to go down a short, but steep, cobblestone road. I literally felt like a Plinko Chip on a bicycle! I was glad it was short. Then we rode along familiar territory from our great ride to Georgetown two years earlier, along the Canal Towpath used so many years ago. At the end of the Towpath, we saw a motorcade go by, not unusual in DC. However, we believe this one was for John Kerry to go for his morning bike ride.
We worked our way over to the monuments, along with the many tourists fascinated by them. Lots of selfie sticks in the air! Yesterday just happened to be graduation day for George Washington University, so there were more people than usual for a Sunday morning.
Washington DC is getting more bike friendly, so we were able to access the bike lanes safely. As we were riding along toward the north side of the White House, we were able to look around and see buildings we would normally miss because we were flying by in a car. We went past the Executive Office Building and to the north side of the White House. Usually we are on the south side, where the Ellipse and monuments are. The north side is where reporters stand to do live shots. The nice thing about being on a bike is that you can ride up closer to the White House because the roads in front and in back are closed to traffic.
We continued on to Pennsylvania Avenue. This was awesome, because they have dedicated bike lines in the middle, complete with traffic lights, from the White House all the way to the U.S. Capitol.
We rode past National Theater, now playing The Wizard of Oz, past the Newseum, and on toward our beloved Old Post Office Building, now being converted into another Trump something or other.
We made our way down South Capitol Street, on the designated bike lane. We rode through the National Mall area, taking one last look at the monuments, and then on to Nationals Park. There are some beautiful townhomes on the way that reminded me of brownstones in New York City. After taking pictures at Nats Park, we rode on toward the Potomac and the bridge back to the car.
But, wait, my loving husband decided since we were there, let’s do the Haines Point loop. Now, Haines Point is a beautiful spot that juts out into the Potomac. As you ride south, you can see Fort McNair on the left across the inlet. Beautiful stately homes line the street across the water, obviously meant for the higher ups at Fort McNair. On the right are tennis courts, a putt putt golf course, and a regular 18-hole course. It really is a beautiful ride. Until you turn at the bottom to come up the other side.
Let me just say that white caps on the Potomac are never a good sign. And especially if you are riding a bicycle! We had been contending with a bit of a breeze all morning, which the buildings were helping to block. Not the case coming back up this side of Haines Point! It took all I had to stay upright and moving. I was definitely channeling my inner Little Engine That Could! But I finally made it to the end of that part of the ride.
But then we still had to come across the Potomac River, with it’s white caps. The wind coming straight at me took my breath away, and my bicycle and I were both leaning to try and stay upright. But I made it to the end.
The rest of the short ride along the river back to Gravely Point was pretty uneventful.
We saw so much more by riding our bicycles around Washington DC than we would have seen in a car. We rode 19 miles, and definitely wouldn’t have been able to walk that much in one day.
Even with the wind blowing, I definitely enjoyed what was around me.