A Little (Blue)grass In My Eyes

The more I bike around in the city, the more I find myself enjoying it.

A bunch of friends and I went to the Kingman Island Bluegrass & Folk Festival, out near Anacostia and it was quite a (windy) sight to behold.

While I enjoy bluegrass and folk music, I have to say that schlepping around the city by bike was far more interesting than the festival itself.

The Expectation
I don’t really know what I was expecting from the festival. I guess I was looking forward to a picnic-esque type scenario. Me, with a bunch of bike-loving friends, just laying out on picnic blankets, soaking up more sun than we should, enjoying the tranquility of bluegrass and folk from local musicians. A zen-like moment where we were experiencing the now. No worries about the impending rain. No worries about life. Just friends. And music.

The Reality
In its fifth year, the festival has apparently grown. And as Sarah offhandedly noted, the festival, ten thousand bodies later, was very…. very white.

The smooshedness of bodies, picnic blankets, and camping chairs taking up almost every inch of space on the island, was a big problem. It made enjoying the bluegrass music quite difficult, but what put me off about the whole thing was how… un-diverse the whole affair was. It reminded me of when I went to Union Market for some kind of event, and that was pretty much all white too. But I won’t go into that here.

Evan had been there for a few hours by the time we got there. Poor bloke. But he had picked out a nice spot along one of the cliff/ridges. Downside: Every time someone got up, or every time a kid stomped and ran around us, the wind would kick up all the loose grass and dirt particles, blinding us.

I think I still have some dirt lodged in my ear…

So Evan went and found a spot on flatter, less grassier land, near the stage. No wind. Just the blaring sun.

So that was the festival. A very white, windy, sandy, gritty, crowded affair that left me with a nice tan. And lots of Vitamin D.

The Bike Ride
Which brings me to the other parts of my day involving friends and bikes.

Much more fun.

I didn’t record our travels, which I should have. I had my Garmin watch with me… But Sarah kindly went back and recorded the route. She was leading the pack of the day so I trust her in the accuracy of our route.

We started off in the Columbia Heights area, making our way towards Eastern Market for some lunch sushi and Thai food. We were riding down Pennsylvania Ave., and I guess they were setting up for the Nike women’s marathon. Bike lane had a bunch of tents and things blocking it. Not to mention, we kept getting yelled at to get off the street and onto the sidewalk.


So lunch. And we met up with Michelle. After stuffing our faces, the four of us hustled down to Kingman Island via the Anacostia Riverwalk Trail. Nice trail by the way. And made it to the festival.

There was a line. A long line. And the bike parking was full. Apparently, it was full even when Evan got there just before 1 p.m. So what do we bike folk do? Get creative. Locked our bikes to a “Long Fence” fence. Others started copying us.

(click to enlarge map)
After we left the festival, we went out for a quick send off for some of Sarah and Michelle’s friends. They’re taking a trip to Southeast Asia before going off to grad school. (Good luck guys!) Once that was done, Sarah, Evan and I hustled back up toward Columbia Heights. The rain was coming. I got a small dose of it getting to the metro station, but I beat the bulk of it once I got back home.

Bike lanes are awesome. I cannot contain the inner excitement I feel every time I ride on one.



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