But hate is such a strong word…

After much promise of snow and multiple failed deliveries, DC has snow.

While my colleagues may gripe at the accumulating fluff, I can’t help but be tickled by it. Sure, I can’t bike anywhere, but I’ll take mounds of snow barring me from riding around instead of half-assed weather events that deliver a pitter patter of one thing, or the worst kind of another.

Which is mostly what this post is about.

Someone once told me that hate was a strong word, and we never actually mean we hate whatever it is we’re hating on.

I agree, and have been careful to ascribe feelings of ‘hate’ on things that I find displeasing, but in this instance my fellow bike friends, I don’t apply it lightly.

Despite its efficient and straight-shot route getting me between Silver Spring and Bethesda, I truly hate the Georgetown Branch Trail.

Like a baby spitting up bitter veggie mush kinda hate.

I think I’ve always hated this trail. Ever since my very first ride, when my front wheel caught a mud rut and sent me scraping against the gravelly mess. But I fear my hate for this trail has only been compounded by the recent bout of ice/sleet/snow/rain/sub-zero temps the DC area has been endowed with for the past month.

Sunny days offer hope for a smooth ride on the trail, but such thoughts are foolhardy.

If the trail—an unpaved route—wasn’t frozen hard, it was a big muddy pit waiting to suck your tires into its mire. Made worse by old tire tracks from previous patrons of the trail. Made doubly worse by trucks ambling down the trail for maintenance reasons (or whatever it is these trucks do on the trail).

why is this trail not paved?!

In my mind the trail’s sad state is inexcusable.

Heavy rains have not only turned the Georgetown Branch Trail into a small creek on occasion, but the heavy flow of water has also carved out tiny valleys into the muddy, gravelly surface. Some “cuts” are so deep they take you by surprise when you ride over one.

While subzero morning temps have been nice—offering a nice solid surface that beautifully glistens—the afternoon commute home is guaranteed to be a slog. It might’ve well have just rained the whole time with how muddy and (nearly)impassable the trail can get.

I’m complaining, true. But it upsets me, as a regular user of this trail how little goes into maintaining it. With the exception of a few tree trimmings near the golf course, why is the “regular” solution to “fixing” the trail’s sad condition involve only a dumping of loose sand?

I’ve seen this a few times on the Silver Spring side of the trail, where a fresh mound of sand is just dumped onto the trail to what I can only guess is to “fill in the cracks.”

Despicable.

The Georgetown Branch Trail, despite its frustrations has been the only route I’ve taken to and from Bethesda. Because of its direct route I never really considered even trying an alternate route. That, and the only other “direct route” is to take East-West Highway, a main thoroughfare with questionable areas along the route (and very steep hills).

Tweeting my despair, a fellow #bikedc-er sent me a route to try—a gesture I’m extremely grateful and excited for. It’s not a straight shot route, but scouting it out on Google Maps, the route looks promising for a great and fun commute, if not challenging.

I haven’t tested the route yet, but hoping to as soon as some of this snow melts enough for safe riding alongside cars.

As much I enjoy snow, it’s really cramping my bike routine.

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