With the short day, I took the opportunity to check the map for a route into Washington other than highway 1. I found the Baltimore-Washington Parkway. From Google maps, it looked like it had a shoulder, but it is a limited access highway, so I wasn’t sure bicycles were allowed. I also checked the Strava heatmap, which shows what routes local cyclists take. None of the popular routes on Strava would take me into Washington and it didn’t look like locals ride on the Parkway. I watched for signs very carefully as I entered the Parkway. I saw a couple signs prohibiting trucks, but nothing about bicycles. It turned out to be a great option with a wide shoulder, no big trucks and no stoplights. Some of the off and on ramps were tricky to navigate, but other than that it was just about perfect. I ended up getting into DC in about an hour and a half. I wonder what the drivers must have thought of seeing someone on a loaded down bicycle riding the Parkway, bopping my shoulders to the music on the radio (dance, dance, dance, yeah). I must have been quite a sight.
There was one point in the Parkway, shortly after a busy on ramp from an interstate, that crews were trimming trees. They blocked off one lane so all the traffic came to a practical standstill. I just zipped right through, passing all the cars. Of course, once past the tree trimming, the cars passed me.
The humidity yesterday wasn’t caused by the rain. There was no rain this morning, but the humidity was just as bad. It wasn’t very warm while I rode down the Parkway, but I was sweating so much that it soaked through my cycling gloves and dripped onto my front panniers. My hands slid around inside the wet gloves.
I made my way to Union Station by about 1:00. I am flying to Nebraska this weekend for a family get together and had arranged with a local cyclist in Arlington to hold my bike and gear for a few days. I arranged to meet him at about 6:00, so had a few hours to burn. After riding around the national mall and White House, I found a bench in the shade with a nice breeze and knitted for a while. Shade and a breeze feel so good, so relaxing.
In the early evening, I headed out to Arlington. There is a really good trail that runs from Georgetown through the western suburbs. Because I was riding during rush hour, there were quite a few commuters using the trail. I must be getting used to hills. Sometimes I would see someone in my mirror gaining ground on me. Then we hit a hill and they would lose ground. There were plenty who passed me on the hills as well.
I left my bike and gear with Tom and his wife. Tom does some touring with his friends. He had ridden the canal trail I will take west and said a lot of the little towns along the trail have started to really boom with tourism because of the number of people who ride it. It will be there first time i will be on a route popular with bicycle tourists. I’m looking forward to it. He also said the grades are very gentle, which will be nice.
Before that, though, as I mentioned, I have a family gathering to celebrate my step dad’s 80th birthday. I’ll be off the road until Tuesday and probably won’t update the blog over the weekend. I hope my gloves are dry by then.