The time change really threw us off schedule today. We were running an hour behind allll day. We trekked off this morning to find Bike and Roll DC, which is where I had reserved two Trek Comfort bikes (plus kids equipment) for us. I didn’t know what the “kids equipment” entailed but I noted strongly when making my reservation that we don’t have kids and we certainly don’t want their stuff.
We finally found the building we needed but there was a raging sea of St. Patrick’s day 8k runners in our way. We saw one pedestrian take the plunge into the mass of people, angle herself slightly, and escape to the other side unscathed. Alex and I thought we could do it…and we did. At least, we didn’t trip anyone that we know of.
When we got to the bike place, they were very nice. I had already planned what we were going to do- ride along the Potomac to Mount Vernon- but each of us thought the other had put our map in the backpack. You know how that ends up. I asked the woman at the counter for a map and she obliged. She scribbled a scary O on the map to mark our current location, which eerily reminded me of The Ring, and then drew a big circle around The Mall, which was approximately six steps to our left. She said, “Staying right around here in the Mall is going to be your best bet”. Granted, we don’t look like hard bodies, but I took offense to this. Maybe she was still thinking we were going to lug around that kids equipment for our fake kids. I just smiled and accepted the map, because a map from a lady who thinks you’re a wimp is better than no map at all.
After we pulled away, Alex and I sat down and looked at said map. “Where is Mount Vernon?” he asked. I used my pointer finger to indicate an imaginary point below the bottom left corner of the map. “Here,” I said. Great start. Our map doesn’t even let us know if we’re heading in the right direction, much less have our destination on it. We decided that it might be difficult to cross a highway over the Potomac so we picked another bridge on the complete other side of town. I have forgotten to mention that it was about 18 degrees outside and we were dressed in biking clothes. I literally lost the feeling in my hands and my second and third fingers fell off around the Washington Monument. We just picked them up and put them in the fanny packs designed for the bicycle to reattach later, when the wind wasn’t quite so Arctic.
Alex wanted to make a pit stop at the Korean Memorial. The most memorable part of it was that the actual Koreans took pictures of us locking our bikes to a bike rack while they walked back to their tour bus. How novel!
After our short detour, we crossed a bridge into Virginia, the big un-mapped unknown. Fortunately, the bike trail I spotted from the bridge was helpfully named “Mount Vernon Trail”. We found it! No map, mom!
We rode for about two hours and were starting to get famished when we stumbled into the quaint historic quarter of Alexandria. This was completely unexpected for us (remember- no map!) and we parked our bikes and walked around a little, ate lunch at a Thai place. It was a great little trip.
When we got back on the trail, I was really starting to feel it in my quads, those lovely muscles that don the front part of your thighs. Unfortunately, the second part of the trail (from Alexandria to Mount Vernon) was 9 miles long of hulking, 90 degree hills. Let’s just say they don’t call it MOUNT Vernon for nothing. When I’m in my normal state, in Dallas, riding bikes, I generally cry and lay on the ground when we get to hills on bikes. DC Beth simply lets time stand still. The first person to pass me was an Olympic runner. Okay, she wasn’t an Olympic jogger and I might have been rolling backwards down the hill, despite pedaling forwards. She and I actually flip flopped a couple of times, which was embarrassing for me and her. Let me tell you about all the other great people that passed me:
– A man wearing an aluminum foil jacket
– An 95 year old woman
– An 8 year old dressed as Tinker Bell on a razr scooter
– Two biking girls wearing acid-washed jeans
Alex kept telling me to change gears because mine was too high, but I hate feeling like I’m pedaling air AND I don’t know that it would have really made a difference. I started walking up hills that I couldn’t make. There was a killer hill at the bitter end that was made me want to stab myself in the eye with a turn-of-the-century umbrella.
We finally made it to Mount Vernon. What did we do there? Let’s see… buy some ice cream, M&Ms and Skittles, go to the bathroom, walk through the gift shop, gawk at all the Freemasons, almost inadvertently sneak into the exhibits as chaperones for a group of middle school boys, and leave. A tight 25 minutes. Why did we ride to Mount Vernon only to leave 25 minutes later? Well, neither of us were super interested in paying $15 to see Mount Vernon. Also, we wanted to stick it to the man because apparently you can’t even see Mount Vernon unless you pay. We thought that was a little elitist so we decided that George Washington ate at our metal-covered-plastic table and he died right by the bushes we were sitting by. The winners write the history, right? Alex and I are the winners.
We also made the executive decision to ride the Metro home from Alexandria. We had to get the bikes by 6:00pm. We left around 10:00 am and got to Mount Vernon at 2:30pm so it wasn’t looking good for us. Also, my quads jumped ship about mile 17 so I was finding it difficult to walk, much less ride all the way back from Mount Vernon to D.C.
When we got on the Metro, it was a super relief. We were both hurting. We dropped the bikes off with 20 minutes to spare and then I made Alex walk to the Eastern Market, which was only 100 miles away. I wanted to find a headband. Unfortunately, they were all closed up so we hopped on the Metro to head home for dinnnner, which we secured at a place called Sweetgreen near our hotel. Now we’re laying in our bed and I’ve taken three baths to calm the storm in my leg muscles.
Here’s hoping my quads come crawling back tomorrow.