Today’s Ride

I learned my lesson about good-weather weekend bike rides a couple of weeks ago:  If I wanted to be able to ride without having to weave through half the population of Washington DC in various stages of physical exertion, I need to hit the road early.  So this morning, at what felt like the crack of dawn, I kitted up and headed out for a spin.  The weather was glorious (mid-70s, no clouds or wind, low humidity) and I felt great, so I decided to push myself a bit. 

Three-and-a-half hours and 61 miles later, I was back home sitting blissfully among the flowers and pond on my balcony, reading about commedia dell’arte and refueling on a “Deconstructed Guacamole” wrap from Sweetgreen and a bowl of frozen yogurt with strawberries, blueberries and shaved coconut (because I deserved a little splurge after burning 3,000 calories). 

In the meantime, I’d had a lot of fun.  I started with a fifteen-mile loop from Ballston (the neighborhood where I live, in Arlington) down to the Potomac River and back.  From there I headed west on the W&OD trail toward Purcellville.  Along the way I passed:

  • a turtle crossing the road;
  • a woman with a pink riding crop (but no horse) shouting hysterically at six police officers whose cars (lights flashing) were parked across the path as if it were an emergency (all I caught was the woman’s description of what I assume were the persons of interest: a sixty-ish man in a yellow jersey and another guy in a red jersey, both on bikes);
  • a bench (where I stopped after the first hour-and-a-half to replenish my blood sugar by eating some gummy sports candies designed for that purpose);
  • lots of beautiful wooded land that hid the tracts of suburbia on either side;
  • a platoon of Civil War soldiers marching through said wooded land (this is Virginia, after all);
  • several more police cars who seemed to be monitoring the points where the bike path crossed ordinary roads;
  • a McDonald’s (where I rode through the drive-thru to get a small Coke — that was at mile 46, and I was feeling depleted; next time I’ll have to bring more gummies);
  • a woman helping her ten-year-old daughter climb over a very high chain-link fence into a restricted area with power-lines, in what appeared to be a very foolish attempt to pick wildflowers; and
  • lots of runners and other bikers (only two of whom passed me back — that was at mile 50, when I was still on the Coke high, so I naturally I raced them for the next 6 miles until the Coke crash came, at which point they sped off into the distance as I mentally shook my fist).

It was a great ride, and I’m happy with where things stand:  In the four weeks since I bought my bike, I’ve ridden between two and three times a week, covering a total of 240 miles, with weight training and yoga on the off days.  My average speed has gone up from 14mph (over a distance of 15 miles) on the maiden run to 16mph (over a distance of 61 miles) today.  And my knees feel better — both on and off the bike — than they have in the last two years of running (or not running, as it’s turned out).  I attribute that success largely to the geometry and fit of my bike and my decision to maintain a cadence of around 90 revolutions per minute regardless of terrain.  I still have a lot of work to do to build endurance and technique, but I’m hoping that by the end of the summer I’ll be riding consistently four times a week and able to complete at least one 100-miler.  Woot!


  1. Anonymous · · Reply

    This is fabulous! Yay for your knees! Loved the text at the drivethru. But, where are the pics? You need helmet cam, bike cam…Lady


  2. Anonymous · · Reply

    solders? you forgot the I 🙂


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