WABA 50 States Ride

Want to do a ride in the District that’s 65 miles long, takes 212 cues, and feels like a daily commute that keeps on giving? Then maybe you would be interested in the Washington Area Bicyclist Association’s annual 50 States Ride. That’s where I was this past Saturday.

Traffic light photo opp on the 50 States Ride (c) mcn7

The course is a drunken sailor tour through all the District quadrants, and takes you over the city’s 50 state streets. It’s a great concept, and I’m proud to say that I have now ridden my bicycle over all of the state streets in Washington, D.C. I’m not sure I’ll ever do it again, but I definitely think it is worth doing once.

I had no idea that the ride would be such an intense urban excursion. Like I said, it’s 212 cues to go 65 miles. That averages out to 3.4 cues per mile. If you weren’t skilled at reading cue sheets, then this ride would definitely be a good crash course for polishing up your skills.

Studying the cue sheet before the ride start

Some of the state streets were busy (even on a Saturday). In other places, the state street itself was a quiet road, but the path to get there was not. Throw in a bunch of stoplights, invisible street signs, speed bumps, and the occasional patch of glass, and you’ve got your 50 States Ride.

Oh, but I forgot the aspects that make it a good ride. It was toasty, but sunny. Good weather is always a plus, especially on a route that takes you through well-trafficked areas.

The course had several volunteer ride Marshals who made sure the riders stayed on track, and the volunteers at all the pit stops were friendly and encouraging. Thank you, volunteers!

Volunteering is awesome! American University Cycling Club volunteers

I enjoyed spending the day with one of my favorite randonneurs. I met fellow cycling residents of the area and saw some cool bikes. I ran into some familiar faces, including my neighbor.

Familiar Faces. Bob and his son doing the route on tandem

Hey, you’re my neighbor!

I rode through parts of the city that were new to me. My full photo set of the adventure is here.

Also, many drivers and area residents were patient and kind to us. Thank you, drivers! I only recall one honk of the horn and two cranky drivers, one who helpfully advised us to “ride on the sidewalk.” (No, we’re not doing that.) Pretty good for a 65-mile ride in the city.

My friend and I started riding a little before 9:00 a.m., and it took us until 5:00 to finish. That’s right. Eight hours to go 65 miles! That was a little more than I bargained for, but hey, it was a lot of stop and go and it was my first ride of any length since the Endless Mountains 1000K. (Yes, I keep mentioning that ride. Bragging rights are all I’ve got.)

I’d never ridden on Iowa Avenue before. Go Hawks!

I chose the Rawland dSogn as my 50 States Ride steed of choice, a 650b bicycle which is, according to the Rawland site: “designed for touring, commuting, club jamming, or a weekend century.” (I particularly like it for club jamming.)

My frame is set up for disc brakes, and I’m currently using fat 41 mm tires. While perhaps not the best climber, the bike smoothed out the ride on the many bumpy city streets. AND because of the rapid response of the discs, I was able to avoid colliding with a dog that had run out in front of me on Ohio Drive. (Ohio, not Iowa!) With any of my other bikes, that would have been a different story. Thank you, Rawland, and thank you, disc brakes!

My Rawland dSogn in front of American University

While I’m not sure you’ll see me on this ride next year (or the year after that, even), I’m glad I registered and spent the day experiencing the streets of the city. I just wish we could have gotten a 50 States Ride t-shirt! I definitely felt like we earned it.

12 responses to “WABA 50 States Ride

  1. Good account of the Hell of the Mid-Atlantic. It was my third and final 50 States Ride. Another participant said that I must have amnesia to do it more than once. Glad to see you finished with that fine looking machine of yours. Little Nellie (my Bike Friday) is envious of the saddle bag.

    John Pickett

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  2. Hi there – my biking friend, John Pickett, sent me the link to your blog and I just enjoyed reading all your posts. :) Great blog & photos! :) Nice to meet a fellow bike commuter also and you’ve got some great bikes! :) I’ve done that 50-States ride years ago, and agree that it’s a TOUGH ride – and only INSANE people ride it more than once! :) ha. :)

    I maintain a bike blog (in addition to the car-free blog) if you’d like to check it out – http://bikerchickchar.blogspot.com/. Drop me a line if you’d like to chat about biking! :) :)

    Charmaine

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  3. I saw all the bikes on the road and thought to myself…

    if I were not doing what I was doing
    I would be doing that!

    looks like a good time

    but yes…
    I could see how it could have been a bit maddening at times

    if you are done with the 50 States ride… maybe BIKE NEW YORK would be a good organized urban tour for you!

    ride on
    blog on

    a fellow bicycle blogger
    -gwadzilla

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    • I’d be up for another urban tour. I’ve heard a lot about Bike New York so maybe one day I’ll make it up there… also, I like your blog, gwadzilla!

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  4. This year was my 3rd, and I look forward to doing it every year. I have little desire to go ride 65 miles in the boonies on a quiet country road — I want to SEE things when I ride. Combined with the fact that I love this city of mine, and this ride the highlight of the year. I see new things and new neighborhoods and things I’ve never noticed before every single time. Yes, it’s punishing, but it’s so rewarding and the best way to see so much of this city, not just the well-trafficked places that I find myself in week in and out.

    The trip through Anacostia, Hillcrest and Fairlawn on the other side of the river is probably my favorite part of the day. Especially the 40mph ride down Massachusetts Ave from Fort Dupont Park. Enjoyed the write up and the photos.

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  5. I had started on the 13-colony ride but somehow ended up with another rider on the 50-states ride. In Anacostia, we decided we were tired, so we took the Metro home. But that’s OK, we had fun.

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  6. I promise to never confuse Iowa and Ohio again.
    I promise to never confuse Iowa and Ohio again.
    I promise to never confuse Iowa and Ohio again.
    I promise to never confuse Iowa and Ohio again.
    I promise to never confuse Iowa and Ohio again.
    I promise to never confuse Iowa and Ohio again.
    I promise to never confuse Iowa and Ohio again.
    I promise to never confuse Iowa and Ohio again.
    I promise to never confuse Iowa and Ohio again.
    I promise to never confuse Iowa and Ohio again.

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  7. Thanks for all the comments, everybody, especially that one about never confusing Ohio and Iowa again, ha!! Charmaine, I enjoyed checking out your blogs. Oh, and thanks for the love on the saddle bag, too, John! I agree that the 50 States Ride is a great way to see the city, and I’m glad I was out there this weekend. See you on the road sometime!

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  8. Bummer, wish I’d have known you two were doing the ride! I rode it last year in a rush (rain was coming) and pictured a more leisurely version including coffee and beer stops, but forgot – boo hoo.

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  9. Pingback: If you can read this… « chasing mailboxes

  10. Pingback: WABA 50 States Ride: Pre-Ride Prep for the Ultimate Urban Excursion | chasing mailboxes d.c.

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