May 31, 2008

A Half Century in DC

The big DC century bike ride went well yesterday. We started at 7.35am at Roosevelt Island in the center of the Potomac River. Here are the eight of us getting the bikes ready. The big excitement was figuring out how to carry all the fantastic sandwiches we had packed. Mine went into the back pocket of my shirt which made it super warm and delicious at snack time - cheese and avocado never tasted so good.

When we first departed from the parking lot our group began to spread out and I thought that would be the last I'd see of all of them - except my biking buddy Bernie since we had promised to stick together. But to our surprise we stayed in a group for the entire first leg out to Mount Vernon and back to DC - 30 miles. Matt did an amazing job keeping us together and moving at a good pace.

Even though Ike the Bike has smaller tires I was able to stay with the group and at one point was even leading the pack at 16.5 miles per hour! Bernie said that I falsely advertised myself as a slow cyclist. I too was shocked. I think the speed had to do with being in a group and the fact that I've been training on a deceivingly challenging route called the Capital Crescent Trail - plus, knowing that I was only going 30 miles with Bernie while the rest of the group was going for 100.

At mile 30 Bernie, who was being coerced by his buddies, tried to convince me to go another 10 miles with the group. I saw that peer pressure working its magic and said no thanks. I knew it was going to be a hot day and I was conserving energy for our DC tour. Bernie finally agreed and we split from the group. It turned out to be a good choice for us since we had a fantastic day visiting all kinds of DC sites.

First we stopped at Arlington National Cemetery. Parking our bikes at the visitor center we walked in our designer biking duds to the Kennedy Memorial and the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier with about 300 eighth graders.

We then visited the Korean War, Vietnam Veterans and World War II memorials. Our timing was perfect for the Vietnam Veterans memorial ranger talk and we ended up having a 40 minute private tour of the wall.

Next we tootled on our bikes along the Mall. Stopped out Teaism for lunch, stopped at The White House to call my good friend and Bernie's daughter Karen, and then made our way to the Kennedy Center and my new favorite view from the terrace level.

We were feeling strong, although hot and grubby so instead of picking up Matt's car at Roosevelt Island we decided to ride to his place and get to 50 miles on our trek record. This last 7 miles was along the Capital Crescent Trail and as I mentioned that deceivingly hard trail was very challenging. It kicked our butts. Plus, we decided to go an extra mile past Matt & Rachel's turn-off so that we could get exactly to 50 miles. Oy.

A few hours later Marlene generously acted as chauffeur and picked up the remaining riders from the 100 mile point. What a scene! Matt was delirious but still had to keep his wits while he rounded up the other riders. It was like wrangling drunken cats. At one point Matt was running along the C&O Canal tow path in his biking shoes yelling - stop here! Stop! He grabbed dad's bike and heroically peddled to catch a passing rider.

We were all so tired - I had done 50 and was brain dead and these guys were coming off of a 12 hour ride having done 100. Matt was amazing.

Marlene then hosted us all at her house with a fantastic dinner prepared by the WAGS (wives and girlfriends). We topped it off with cake for Bernie's birthday. At this point I Matt and I just wanted to sleep - and we were two of the youngest folks there. The "oldies" who had done 100 miles were chatting up a storm.