Monday, October 27, 2014

Alexandria to Ale House (Olney, MD) and back

First, it was a wonderful wedding and we had a great time with family.  The bike case and duffel went off with my aunt and uncle at the morning after breakfast (my sister: "we have this huge tent, we should get another event out of it!).

Fitz and I then drove down to Alexandria, and had fun walking around town, and having lunch at Gadsby's, a tavern frequented by George Washington, back in the day.

Lunch at Gadsby's Tavern in Alexandria

Ducks on the Potomac, Alexandria

He planned to maybe play a bit of golf before catching the plane home.  I sent him off with the last little bit of clothing I wasn't taking with me.  And there I was, all by myself.  Committed.

I was meeting Leslie T. to ride that perm pop which traversed three states (VA, DC, MD).  Yeah, about that.  Route owner Crista was planning to meet us at the turnaround control for lunch.  She discovered that the restaurant was closed on Mondays, and did some rerouting to a different place.  Fortunately this all happened before we left, so I had an updated cue sheet.

In the meantime, Leslie had been in a car accident and was feeling a bit beat up, and maybe wouldn't be able to ride.  But she signed up, and said she'd give it a go.

But, there I was just before 9am, at the Old Town Alexandria Starbucks' (where, if it had been there then, it would probably have been George Washington's coffee hangout).

Waiting to start, Starbucks, Old Town Alexandria

And, a few minutes later, someone said "hi!", and there was a purple Sweetpea leaning against the rack next to mine.  And there was Leslie.  We chatted a bit, and I dumped my mocha into my thermal bottle.  It was time to go.

Two Sweetpeas

I followed Leslie northward on the Mount Vernon Trail, passing right by Reagan National Airport, then over a bridge into DC, and north along the Potomac River.  Eventually we turned under a highway, and rode under it until we got onto the Capital Crescent Trail.

Canal, Capital Crescent Trail

Lock Keeper's House, Capital Crescent Trail

Leslie T on a bridge

We chatted along the way, and Leslie stopped to point out one of the original Washington DC boundary stones.

original DC boundary stone there

The trail goes on for quite some distance; we were on it for about 7 miles, before popping out in Bethesda, and onto the Georgetown Branch Trail.  This trail has a crushed rock surface, still easily rideable, and goes through a tunnel at the beginning, which was fun.

A tunnel in Bethesda

Georgetown Branch Trail

It had been raining off and on, but it was a warm rain, so I didn't bother with pulling on the jacket. Or any rain gear, for that matter. They have different ideas of what is cold, there :-)

We then got off the trail and onto the surface streets.  The rain got rather more insistent, and we had a brief period of misplacement; missed a turn in the rain.

After that, Leslie elected to head to the closest Metro stop; she still wasn't feeling up to riding the whole thing.  11 more miles to go, all on surface streets.  Crista writes a very detailed cue sheet; I had only one moment of deep confusion, when the route entered a country club with no visible way out the other side.

I found Crista and her friend Barbara at the turnaround control (Sisters Sandwiches and Such), ordered a tuna sandwich, and sat down to visit and eat half the sandwich (it was huge).  Wish I'd had more time to visit, but I was on a mission to finish this ride in time!

Crista Permanista and me

Fortunately, this was pretty much an out and back, and I flew low all the way back to DC.  The Capital Crescent Trail was particularly nice for this.  Then I entered DC...  again a moment of confusion looking for the 14th St Bridge (you'd think there would be SIGNS!); a passing cyclist pointed me in the right direction.

Over the bridge, 6 more miles on the Mt Vernon Trail to the finish.  Getting close...  I arrived at the Starbucks with 10 minutes to spare, but the cashier was having an exceptionally long conversation with the two guys in front of me, and then went to grind some coffee for them and...  Thought I'd DIE there.

But all ended well.  Got a coffee drink and sat down to enjoy it before riding over to Leslie's home in Arlington, where I'd spend the night.

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