When I registered for WABA’s 50 States Ride a few months back, it was the beginning of a new bike journey for me. I only did the 15-mile 13 Colonies Ride, but I it was great for a beginner and a great time riding with a friend and a bunch of other fellow cyclists through D.C.
The Cider Ride overall was a great adventure.
In hindsight, I probably should’ve registered for the short, 15-mile ride but the other two rides (the 35-mile-turned 47-mile route, and the 60-mile route) were more interesting. I mean, the midpoint for these routes was a friggin farm out in Bowie, Md. Challenge?
Weather was great. The rain from the previous day, and the potential snow coming in the next day were a concern. After all, a rainy ride isn’t really all that fun, though it does have a zen-like effect. And riding in the snow? Well, I don’t really know what that’s like.
Taking the challenge, and wanting to go to the farm for some warm apple cider (because drinking it on the farm is more… I don’t know… special?), I plunged in and registered for the 35-mile route, which was changed to 47 miles after WABA changed it for safety reasons.
I rode in the rear with two friendly ride marshals, Rachel and Garrett. They are awesome. Taking in the rear of the route, Rachel stopped along the route every time we came across riders doing the 47-mile route. She even waited for them while they took breaks to make sure no one in our route was left behind.
The start of the ride wasn’t too bad. At least, not until we passed over the 11th Street bridge. Then, Hello Minnesota and Massachusetts avenues!
I thought the hill passing the LDS Temple entrance was tough, but this one… This one was just never ending.
As I was going up, I overheard this lady waiting to cross the street to the church say (about me), “Look at her! She strugglin’!”
Yeah. I was strugglin’ for sure. And overheating. I had to stop to take my neck warmer and gloves off.
There were a few other hills we encountered, but I was so determined about getting to the farm that I didn’t want to just turn around in the middle of nowhere, straddled between the D.C.-Maryland border.
Passing through SE was interesting. I’ve never had any reason to be in the area, and so riding through it with a few other cyclists was an experience of sorts. I saw a lot of houses being renovated, saw a lot of condemned houses along the way.
And there was a lot of weed in the air.
The one thing I noticed, that made me feel good, was the friendly interactions we got from the people out on the streets.
At a light in SE, we were waiting near a bus stop, and a guy was asking about what we were doing and what organization we were affiliated with. Then, at another light, two kids, albeit a little aggressively, called out to us that they could beat us on foot if they raced us. In a neighborhood in Maryland, a guy raking his yard said “lookin’ good! Lookin’ good!” At an intersection, a lady started a conversation with us out her car window. Kind of awkward, but all cool talking about the ride and WABA, for as long as the red lights would allow us.
Once we got into Maryland, the scenery changed. The stretches of road were longer. There were more cars passing by us. It was a lovely way to just take in the scenery of farmland and experience travelling over a longer distance not bombarded with traffic lights.
I passed by FedEx field for the first time. I even saw Nationals Park up close for the very first time. Very ugly structures.
Passing by FedEx field was very depressing. All that vast space, going unused for most of the time, absorbing the sun’s heat, being underused. All that vast space that could be used for something else.
Biking across major roadways were fun. Crain Highway had a nice median light, which made the task of hustling across the wide roadway less daunting but it was still kinda scary.
The farm was a great site to see, since it marked the midpoint of the entire adventure. An actual resting spot from the long ride we just finished getting to the farm. We rested for a bit, and once everyone else had left for the return trip back home, Garrett, Rachel, and I also headed back.
And all those rolling hills we went down, became the enemy going back.
I was struggling real bad. Going really slow, even on small grades. Struggling to get through intersections before the lights changed.
Unfortunately our trip back into D.C. stopped short after our pitstop at Largo Town Center. As we were going down Arena Drive, an incident occurred that resulted in one of us taking a trip to the hospital, a crumpled bicycle, and speaking with police. Let’s just say, on a six-lane highway, how in the world can you miss three cyclists?
But the injured is doing fine, and this in no way should overshadow the great adventure we had earlier in the day.
It was time well spent. Made new friends, challenged myself, and now I’m feeling good (and sore). Can’t wait for the next ride.
Cider Ride banner from WABA.org