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.
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.
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!
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.
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 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!
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.