So somewhere between running two miles on pavement in Five Fingers (after having not run at all in several weeks) and walking around our nation’s capitol last Thursday, I developed shin splints.
As I walked to meet Chrissy for dinner at Mandu (a Korean restaurant) that evening, I winced with every step and wished I’d ridden her bicycle instead (I chose not to due to lack of night time riding gear, i.e., lights, reflective vest, etc.).
A note on the food front — I’d scoped out veg-friendly restaurants ahead of time, making note of some that sounded interesting (and affordable) and were not too far from my friends’ apartment. Mandu was the only one on my list that I actually visited on this trip. I ordered the vegetable mandu (dumplings) and a noodle soup-type dish — both were okay, but not particularly noteworthy.
We made it back to her apartment after dinner, with me looking longingly at the bicylists that passed by, where I began plotting a bicycle excursion for Friday. My friend Natalie, who has almost zero experience cycling on the streets of DC, had agreed to accompany me (with lots of experience cycling in StL, but zero experience cycling in DC) on an adventure.
She was nervous about cycling, period. I was nervous about heading out on unknown streets (apprehension applicable to both driving a bike or a car in an unknown, traffick-y urban area). I knew we could have a good experience on my familiar StL roads, but what would happen in DC? I desperately wanted it to go well and be a positive experience for Natalie.
From my time walking around DC, I’d already seen a variety of bicycle infrastructure “improvements,” including the standard door-zone bike lanes, as well as some variations, including a two-way segregated bike lane (on 14th St. NW, I believe) positioned between the sidewalk and a lane of on-street parking and the two-way bikes lane right smack-dab in the middle of Pennsylvania Ave. DC felt like a veritable hodge-podge of cycling facilities.
Armed with a DC bicycle map, I plotted our route with a very specific and simple goal: avoid streets with bike lanes! I picked Rock Creek Park as a destination, and chose a straightforward route to minimize turns (less to have to remember).
On Friday morning, I pumped up my adopted bicycle’s tires (it was lonely, ahem, Chrissy) and rode to pick up Natalie. My short solo ride did a lot to boost my confidence that riding a bike in DC is not so different from riding a bike in StL, and that our excursion could, indeed, be a positive experience for my friend.
We rode south on 6th St. NW, and then headed west on P St. NW, which took us to the south end of Rock Creek Park. On our way, we navigated the slightly crazy traffic circle at Logan Circle and opted to become pedestrians and walk around the very crazy DuPont Circle (having experienced it that way, I was all prepared to bike through it on our return trip, but it was so congested, we decided walking would be faster). The trickiest part of the entire ride was figuring out how to connect with the trail in Rock Creek Park, which we rode north for a bit to the zoo.
We retraced our route back to Natalie’s place for some much-needed cooling, refueling, and rest time (temps in DC were in the low 90s the whole time I was there, making most every endeavor — walking, biking, sitting — a sweaty one).
With that, it looks like we’re working on a three-parter here, since my Friday riding left me wanting more. And more there was!
Thanks for a great ride. I’m not promising I’ll transform into a DC commuter, but I feel more confident that I’m capable of handling the DC streets!
Thank you for having an open mind and for trusting me 🙂 I do wish the CyclingSavvy program was offered in the DC area — our ride was just a small taste of the techniques and confidence that make a savvy cyclist!