Tag Archives: WABA

WABA’s Women & Bikes and the Hains Point 100

Megan of WABA, completes the Hains Point 100

Megan completes the Hains Point 100

The Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) recently launched a Women & Bikes initiative. WABA describes the intent of Women and Bikes on its website, stating:

The mission of Women and Bicycles is to get more women on two wheels through mentorship and peer-to-peer learning, between those who already ride and those who would like to ride. The program consists of dinner parties, workshops, bike rides, and celebrations.

Megan, a member of the BikeDC community, organized a century ride on Hains Point to raise money and awareness for Women & Bikes on December 23. Hains Point is a well-known 3.2-mile loop located in the Southwest quadrant of Washington, D.C., and is a popular training spot for the area’s roadies road riders.

Megan’s organizing impressed me. She encouraged people to show up and support the event, even if they did not or could not ride the full 100 miles.

I also admired her for taking on a Hains Point century. Even though Hains Point is flat, wind can blow stiffly off the water. Completing a ride as flat as Hains Point is a different kind of challenge than a rolling ride, as rolling terrain offers opportunities to use different muscle groups and easily move out of the saddle. And finally, 32 laps of Hains Point? It’s hard to fathom.

By the day of the Hains Point 100, Megan had raised more than $1,000. It appeared that a sizeable group showed up at the start and a steady stream of people came and went to support the event and complete a lap or two (or three or four) throughout the day.

Felkerino and I ventured out of the city for the majority of our Sunday ride, but stopped by Hains Point in the later afternoon to do a couple of laps and observe the event’s finale.  We had a great time, meeting and greeting several people we know from the Twitterverse, Friday Coffee Club, and even D.C. Randonneurs.

We encountered our friend Ben B., who is now one of the co-owners of Proteus Bicycles in College Park.  Ben had pedaled down to the event from College Park, Maryland, riding a recently-acquired bright yellow tall bike.

We rode together for a partial lap, and then Ben departed to get in some last-minute shopping at the Downtown Holiday Market. I wasn’t sure how that big beast locked to a rack, but Ben was carrying an Abus chain lock and seemed to have it all figured out.

Ben B. and his tall bike on the Hains Point 100

Ben B. and his tall bike on the HP100

We finally met Alex B. (straight out of Twitter and into real life!), who is a recent addition to the WABA staff. Alex was riding her sparkly new Wabi single speed.

Alex on her new Wabi

Alex on her new Wabi

Kate C., also known as Girl on a Bike, was out riding her trusty cruiser bike, Betty. Betty was all decked out for the season, including lights, tinsel, and a Christmas stocking. Both Alex and Kate completed more than 50 miles for the day. Well done, ladies.

Girl on a Bike and the seasonally decorated Betty at the HP100

Girl on a Bike and the seasonally decorated Betty at the HP100

Friday Coffee Club friends Pete B. and Aaron were there, too. Pete had decided to combine the Hains Point 100 into his fixed gear double-century ride. He’d been up since 3 a.m. Sheesh!

Pete B. and Megan

Pete B. and Megan

Aaron also rolled well into the triple digits, leaving Hains Point with over 117 miles in the bank.

Aaron heads for home at the end of the HP100

Aaron heads for home post-HP100

Kathy, an Arlington-based commuter, provided support to Megan and other riders throughout the day. She did a great job, and her positive energy and smile were completely infectious.

Kathy (complete with Santa hat) and Ben

Kathy (complete with Santa hat) and Ben

Nelle P., also on the WABA staff and an avid bicyclist, was also there, having just installed a new set of handlebars on her Raleigh the night before.

Nelle and her Raleigh

Nelle and her Raleigh

The most exciting moment of the day arrived when Megan put her foot down after meeting her self-imposed challenge of 100 miles– 102 when all was said and done.

HP100 in the bag. Time for a cupcake!

HP100 in the bag. Time for a cupcake!

She had done it! Megan rode thirty-two laps around Hains Point. She raised money and awareness for WABA’s Women & Bicycles initiative. And most important, she led by example. Thank you, Megan.

P.S. A few more photos from the day are here, and Felkerino took some photos too.

Note: I previously (mis)identified Megan as WABA staff. She is not a WABA employee, but rather a regular everyday citizen who put the ride together.

WABA 50 States Ride 2012: All About the People

This past Saturday Felkerino and I participated in another edition of the Washington Area Bicycling Association (WABA) 50 States Ride. Yeah, that ride with 500 participants that crosses over all 50 of the state streets within the District of Columbia and covers about 65 miles in the process.

Felkerino and me at the first 50 States Ride pit stop

True to our plan, we shortcut as our coffee requirements dictated and skipped a few state streets along the way. At the end of the day, Felkerino and I crossed off 34 of the 50 state streets. I don’t know if this means we have to do some Sharpie editing to our 50 States Ride t-shirts or what so if you know the protocol, please let us know.

50 States Ride, #fridaycoffeeclub peeps

Fortunately, we did manage to ride through all four D.C. quadrants so we are not completely hopeless.

The highlights of this year’s event included all the people we saw and chatted with throughout the ride. There were a few moments where we pedaled quietly along, but generally we rode in the company of other friendly riders.

Felkerino, John, and Dave

John, Felkerino, and Tony on Massachusetts SE

After doing this ride three times now, I’ve concluded that the descent on Massachusetts Avenue Southeast is one of my favorite parts. The road surface is good, it has hardly any car traffic, and it offers a beautiful view of the city.

Well-placed pit stops along the route allowed Felkerino and me to restock on water, talk with #BikeDC tweeps, and meet a few new people, too.

Mary Lauran and friends on the 50 States Ride

The post-lunch pit stop in Takoma Park was hosted by our friends Mike and Lisa, making it an extra fun pause in the ride.

Hanging out with Mike at the pit stop

We left Mike and Lisa’s to go up to Alaska Avenue Northwest, where someone took some great pictures of LOTS of riders and posted them on flickr. If you rode and made it to Alaska Avenue, check them out here.

After a day chock full of stops, twists, and turns, Felkerino and I called it a day after Alaska Avenue. When the route descended into Rock Creek Park, we remained on Beach Drive until exiting at Adams Mill Road and high-tailing it to the finish.

Despite our various shortcuts, our odometers showed 60 miles for the day. It also indicated a 10.1 mph rolling average; no speed records were set during this cue- and stop-filled excursion.

The finish locale, the Mellow Mushroom, teemed with bikes and people. We ate pizza, talked with friends, and picked up our aforementioned partially earned t-shirts.

Surly LHT at the 50 States Ride finish

I initially planned to take my Velo Orange mixte, but ultimately wound up riding my regular commuter, the Surly Long Haul Trucker. Not surprisingly, the Surly rode smoothly and had no mechanicals (though WABA offered mechanical support at all pit stops in the event it was needed).

Working on a bike at the 50 States Ride.

Oh, and I also managed to hit my home state street of Iowa. Phew! I missed it last year and was determined not to let that happen again.

Iowa Street and the Surly LHT on the 50 States Ride

This edition of the 50 States was the best yet. Through the #BikeDC hashtag on Twitter, Friday Coffee Club, and more participation in WABA’s events I’ve been able to get to know some of the BikeDC crowd. When I show up at a WABA event now, I almost always see a familiar face. That’s a great feeling.

Thanks, WABA!!

Thanks, WABA, for another successful 50 States Ride.

For another writeup of the event, please check out Port-a-John’s excellent summary. Oh, and BicycleBug has a good one, too, as does Rambling Rider.

And for more photos from the ride, take a look at our flickr sets. Mine are here, and Felkerino’s here.

See you out there next year? I hope so!

WABA 50 States Ride: Pre-Ride Prep for the Ultimate Urban Excursion

This coming Saturday marks the arrival of another edition of the 50 States Ride. While this ride sort of freaked me out the first time I did it, it’s since grown on me and now it’s a much-anticipated fall event.

Felkerino and me at the end of the 2011 50 States Ride

Washington Area Bicycling Association (WABA), our local cycling advocacy group, organizes the ride. My entry fee supports WABA’s good work and in exchange I get a tour through all four quadrants and 50 state streets in the District with 500 other people.

The total 50 States route is around 65 miles. My plan is to not ride the full route. How about that for ambition? Rather, I’ll be doing the “More than 25, but fewer than 50 States Ride,” depending on where and how far I feel like riding. Last year, I pedaled over 40 of the 50 state streets and completed slightly more than 50 miles.

It feels good to accomplish the full route and all 50 state streets, but I found myself pulling out my hair at some of the more congested downtown areas. Since I ride those fairly frequently anyway, it doesn’t break my heart to skip them during the 50 States Ride.

Goals for this year’s 50 States Ride are:

  • See #BikeDC friends.
  • Stop for coffee along the way. Peregrine. Chinatown Coffee. Hmm, where else should I go?
  • Meet some new people.
  • Get some exercise.
  • Take pictures.
  • Enjoy enjoy enjoy.

Last year I chose my Rivendell Quickbeam for the ride. A single speed was ideal for me then, as there was no hill too tough for the Quickbeam, and the 32 mm tires set up well for the sometimes bumpy city streets. This year I’ve been nagged by some knee pain so I will be riding a geared bike, as a single speed seems unwise.

Velo Orange Mixte

Most likely I’ll ride my Velo Orange this time around. The Velo Orange is a mixte that, like the Quickbeam, is also set up with 32 mm tires and well-suited to urban riding. My posture on the mixte is more upright, but I have found both bikes to be comfortable. I’ll let you know for sure after the ride is over.

Over the weekend, I went to BicycleSPACE and picked out a new Crane bell for the bike. My mixte is set up with a bell, but it’s the worst bell ever. The bell ding is the equivalent of a loud whisper. Useless. Why did I buy the bell in the first place? Because it was in the shape of a coffee cup and I thought it was cute. So much for that approach.

Coffee bell on the Velo Orange. Possibly the worst bell ever.

In contrast, the brass Crane bell I purchased makes a beautiful yet stark sound that clearly announces a bicycle. It’s beautiful, but functional, too.

Shiny new (and functional!) Crane bike bell from BicycleSPACE

With that addition, the Velo Orange is ready to take on the 50 States Ride. Are you riding, too? If so, I’ll see you there!

Getting Better All the Time: Leslie T. on #BikeDC Speaks

Leslie T., superhero transportation cyclist, and I go way back to the days I first began riding with the D.C. Randonneurs. If there is a way to get there by bike, Leslie will figure out it. When work requires her to travel, she takes a bike along. Vacation? It usually involves a bike. Getting around town? Bike, of course.

You may have seen Leslie out and about. She volunteers with WABA, partakes in the occasional touring and group ride, and regularly attends #FridayCoffeeClub. Here is what Leslie had to say about cycling in the Washington, D.C. area.

1. How long have you been riding in the D.C. area?

I moved to D.C. in September, 1992. Before that, I was an active bicyclist back in New Jersey. In fact, just before the move I had been embroiled in an advocacy issue that led to a visit to the Matawan police department after heated discussions with a conductor of a New Jersey Transit train. New York City’s advocacy organization, Transportation Alternatives, helped me with that.

So, immediately after getting to D.C., I joined D.C.’s advocacy organization, the Washington Area Bicycling Association (WABA), and showed up at Bike DC (then held in September). At that ride, I was recruited to join the WABA Executive Board. I haven’t looked back.

2. What sorts of things do you do by bike?

Everything. I run all errands I can on a bike. I once brought 250 books to be given away by bike – stuffed into rear panniers, front panniers, a milk carton on the top of the rear rack, and a back pack on my back. I commute to work (when I’m not working at home).

I love to do inter-modal trips: put the bike on a train or bus, then bike from there. That lets me visit friends and go on rides that would otherwise involve (the horror! the horror!) getting into a car.

3. What do you like about bicycling in D.C.?

Just about everything. I love that most of D.C. and Arlington (where I live) have a grid pattern of streets, so there are many alternate ways to get where you’re going. I love the different sub-cultures of bicyclists, most of whom respect each other, and some of whom overlap in interesting ways.

4. What are the challenges of bicycling here?

A major challenge is parking.
The two sub-challenges are: parking when running errands and parking when at the office.

Now that D.C. has replaced many parking meters with computerized kiosks, parking spots are even more scarce. The number of bicycle racks installed is less than adequate and they tend to be poorly located.

For some neighborhoods (Georgetown?), I am forced to use a chain, encircling a lamp post, in conjunction with my U-lock. But I have a really nifty red cable that I got at Adeline Adeline that is so no-hassle to carry and use that I almost don’t mind.

As for bicycling to work, the U.S. (and D.C.) lags far behind in office buildings providing safe, indoor parking for bicyclists. I’ve been lucky, in that buildings I’ve worked in have allowed me to bring my bicycle inside (that was a question I asked after I determined they were interested in me and before I accepted the job), but for a day-visit, I’ve had to hustle and do research — sometimes finding a parking garage a block or two away that had an old-fashioned bicycle rack tucked into a corner.

5. What parts of the city do you consider bike-friendly and why?

I consider most of the city — and many of the suburbs — bike-friendly. But I may have a higher tolerance than others for bicycling in traffic, and I’ve experienced some really un-bike-friendly places (Atlanta? most of South Florida? Most exurbs that consist of subdivisions rather than neighborhoods).

I will bike about anywhere. Friends have asked, somewhat incredulously, if “that was you” biking on Chain Bridge Rd out in Vienna (yup), or on Route 450 in Bowie (yup again). However, I think I may have to draw the line on biking to Tyson’s from Arlington.

6. What could the District do to make it an even better city for cyclists?

I wish the commuter trains (VRE and MARC) took bikes, and I wish those trains ran on weekends. That would really extend my abilities to bicycle out in the boonies without having to use a car to get there. I miss the bike trains that New York Cycle Club used to run using Metro North. And Amtrak should have roll-on access for bikes, especially on their one train that runs out to Pittsburgh, for people who want to ride the Great Allegheny Passage (GAP) and C&O Canal Towpath.

And there’s that parking situation. Some cities in Switzerland actually have rows and rows of covered bicycle parking in major shopping districts. (It’s just thick plastic sheeting suspended over a metal frame, but still …)

7. Any thoughts about Capital BikeShare?

I joined Capital BikeShare shortly after it opened, thinking I would use the CaBi bikes when I couldn’t bike into downtown, but that never happened.

I finally used CaBi for the first time last month: I needed to go for a run and also run errands, and didn’t have time to do both.  I ended up running to the nearest CaBi bike station (they are now in Arlington!), renting a bike to run my errands, returning the bike to a different station and running home. It was perfect, except that I forgot to bring a helmet, and I felt naked on the bike. I am now on a quest to find a folding bike helmet – I might have to go to Europe to do it, since the ones that exist aren’t CPSC-certified.

8. What is one of the best pieces of advice anyone has given you about bicycling?
“Take the lane.” See next question.

9. What advice do you have about cycling in the city?

Don’t be intimidated. I’m actually an instructor, certified by the League of American Bicyclists, to teach about vehicular cycling. One of the most discussed pieces of advice they give out is “Take the lane.”

Now, at first, it’s really intimidating to actually get out 1/3 of the way in a lane of potentially fast-moving traffic and ride there. Sometimes cars beep at you. But they beep AS THEY GO AROUND YOU, waiting until the lane to their left is clear, since they can’t get past you otherwise. It’s annoying, but, believe me, not half as frightening as being buzzed within an inch by a car who zoomed past you without slowing down, since you were in the shoulder, or worse, in the right-most portion of the travel lane.

10. What is a word or phrase that summarizes your D.C. bicycling experience?

Getting better all the time — in most respects.

11. Do you have a picture of your bike and you that I can use for this post?

The fleet now consists of seven bicycles. Here goes:

(1) The commuting/utility bike, a late ’70s Raleigh. I actually wrote about this bike on a long-inactive web site I used to maintain. See “A Tale of Two Bicycles“. (OMG, I really do need to update that site or get rid of it.) Anyhow, the Raleigh gets admiring stares and comments from people who appreciate classic bikes. But it gets left alone by most other people. There’s not much original left on it — literally the frame and fork — so it’s clearly a “creative reuse” of a classic bike. But with its upright handlebars, a huge Arkel commuting pannier on one side and an eBay Kirtland on the other, it’s the perfect utility bike. Thank you, AnneC.

Leslie’s Raleigh

(2) The Terry. This was one of the first woman-specific bikes, designed by Georgena Terry and manufactured in upstate New York. It’s now my touring bicycle, fitted with a triple, a Bruce Gordon rear rack, and a generator built into the front hub. I also ride the Terry around town, when I know I won’t be leaving it outside for long.

The Terry in front of Saxbys Coffee

(3) The Trek. My friend HelenZ had a gorgeous Trek carbon bike that she never rode. Whenever I saw it (in her house, never on a ride) I would ask why she never rode it, she would say she couldn’t get it to fit properly, and I would offer to adjust the fit for her. She never took me up on the offer. After the third (or fourth?) such conversation, Helen offered to give the bike to me! I couldn’t refuse. After some minor adjustments (angle of the handlebars; position of seat) it fits me well enough to let me comfortably do long multi-day rides. This is my “fast” bike, “fast” in quotes, so any bike I ride is only as fast as the rider.

(4) The Folding Bike aka the Bike Friday New World Tourist. This bike was love at first sight, or, actually, love before first sight, since I knew I had to have it when I saw an ad in a bicycling magazine. I’d had folding bikes before this, but nothing satisfactory. And since I travel a lot on business, it was either get a good folding bike or do without bicycling or long periods of time, obviously not an option. This bike has been on tours of Australia, Ireland, England, and various parts of the US, supported and unsupported, weekend to week-long. It rides just about like a full-size bike (the 20-inch tires wear out faster) and gets a free ride, in its suitcase, on airlines that charge $150+ to transport a fullsize bike.

The Bike Friday on a Road Trip to Philadelphia

(5) The mountain bike, a hard-tail Diamondback. I was going to sell this one, since I barely ride it. However, this is the bike that has the studded tires, so it keeps me on a bike those few times that it snows enough in DC to leave snow and slush in the roads.

(6) Old reliable, AKA the truck, AKA a 1981 Miyata touring bike.This one really was love at first sight, in the bike shop. The first bike I had ever seen with a triple crank. And it fit without any major component replacements. I was going to sell this one, too, since I wasn’t riding it on tours (had the Terry) or around town (had the Raleigh). But then I had my Aha! moment. Instead of taking the folding bike with me each time I went out to my office in California, why not just ship the Miyata there and keep it in the office. Done. Since then, the bike has enjoyed a tour down to Monterrey, several club rides in Silicon Valley, and even the hills in San Francisco.

Leslie’s Miyata

(7) The fixee. I wanted to try a fixed gear bike. I found a Nishiki frame for $25 at a WABA Bike Swap (alas, no longer held.) A friend (JeffR?) was selling a set of wheels including a rear with a flip-flop hub. I don’t remember how or why it ended up with the original handlebars from the Raleigh, which I switched to mountain (straight-across) bars for city riding. I kept on the brakes, switched the chain, but kept on the two chain rings. Voila — (almost) instant and (definitely) cheap fixed gear bicycle. Unfortunately, I did not enjoy going up and down the hills in Arlington on that bike. So I shipped it to my father’s place in Florida, where the only hills are the overpasses. It’s the perfect bike for South Florida.

The Nishiki Fixed Gear

Thank you for being a guest contributor on #BikeDC Speaks, Leslie. Lots of great stuff here, from your enviable bike collection to the knowledge gained from years of good riding in the city.

Questions or comments for Leslie? Don’t be shy, ask away!

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.