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Sneak Peek! Route Talk – Day 5 – Pedaling into Washington DC

Here’s a sneak-peek of this year’s Climate Ride NYC-DC 2013 from our route planner and logistics master. Ride Director Blake Holiday tells us about Day 5 – the final day into Washington, DC. We’ll ride from Maryland’s scenic horse country to Silver Spring, then jump on the Capital Crescent Trail, where we’ll all meet up for the final 3 miles along the National Mall to the steps of the US Capitol!

It’s the final day of our grand cycling adventure from New York City to Washington DC, and after 4 days on the road, we’re nearly there. Timing is key today because we have about 70 miles to cover and if we all stay on track, we’ll make it just in time for the speaking event on the Capitol Lawn, right where the Presidential inaugurations are held. Please listen to the advice of our expert staff members today – they are there to help make sure you stay on the schedule and make it to the end on time.

Today’s ride is perhaps a little easier than the previous 4 days – it’s 69.6 miles from point to point and it’s mostly downhill. Can you believe it?! Yes, mostly downhill! Hopefully, you’ve saved a little bit more energy after 4 days of spectacular riding!

After a delicious hot breakfast, we head out on Hanover Pike. After a few days of riding in rural Pennsylvania and Maryland, you’re going to notice that the road is busy in the morning, but there’s a wide bike lane. You’ll notice traffic getting heavier as we get closer into DC, which is very different than the past 4 days, so we’re going to really focus on safety and be sure to pay attention to all posted signs. As always, ride single file please.

It’s 26.6 miles to the first Water Stop at Kendall Hardware in Clarksville, where water, snacks and restrooms are available. Kendall Hardware is owned by Steve and Sandy Kendall – it’s an awesome family business that always supports local rides and events, so be sure to thank the staff for hosting us!

Then, we have a couple of small hills to get over, but the roads are smaller and less trafficked in this section. At Mile 32.8, you’ll really notice that we’re getting back into city riding. Again, please ride safely – it might be a little jarring to see all these cars after 4 days on quiet, rural roads, but you can do it!

Luckily, at Mile 44, we jump on the Sligo Bike Trail, which snakes through beautiful parks for about 3 miles, where we cross a small bridge and into Silver Spring, MD. Downtown Silver Spring has a pleasant pedestrian zone lined with restaurants and coffee shops. This is where we’ll ‘fuel up’ before the jumping on a beautiful 15 mile rail-trail into DC! Remember bike tourism is good for the economy, so let’s show Silver Spring that cyclists are the best!

This is where timing becomes important. You should be leaving Silver Spring by 2:15 pm at the latest. It’s about 15 miles to the next stop at the Thompson Boat Center and it’s mostly downhill (Hollah….Capital Crescent Rail-Trail!). The Trail starts out as a dirt track, but even the skinniest road tires can handle it (unless there’s been a lot of rain, in which case use caution!). As the Trail gets closer to DC, it gets a little busier, so leave plenty of room between you and other cyclists/runners/walkers.

Eventually, you’ll arrive at the Thompson Boat Center at Mile 65 – a very scenic spot right on the Potomac River. Here, we’ll wait for everyone to arrive so we can all ride up to the Capitol together. If you arrive very early, you may have time to check out a little bit of historic Georgetown just a few blocks away, or sip on a refreshing beverage at a pub near the Boat Center. This is a great spot for photos, and for meeting up with local friends and family who want to join us for the final triumphant stretch! (Yes, it’s okay to invite your friends to ride with us for the last 3 miles!)

At 3:30 pm, we’ll line up at the corner of Rock Creek Parkway and Virginia Ave – I’ll be there with my cowbell ringing – so let’s make some noise as we begin the final 3 miles of the trip! We’ll ride in a big peloton that will stretch for several blocks, so please take over the far right lane and stop for all traffic signals. We have a parade permit so we may have a police escort depending on the Metro Police’s schedule.

Riding up the National Mall to the Capitol is definitely a major highlight of the whole ride, so enjoy every single minute – you’ve earned it! Not everyone can say they have pedaled 300 miles to Washington DC to make an impact!

What’s great about this final stretch is that the Capitol is hidden from view until the very end, and I can tell you it’s a *moment* when we round the bend at Pennsylvania Avenue and see it for the first time. Bring a hanky! Even if you live in DC and see it all the time, the sight of the Capitol building after riding for 5 days will move you. We promise.

Once we arrive at the West Front of the building, we’ll walk our bikes across the lawn and right up to the steps where we’ll hear from inspiring speakers. Be sure to invite family, friends, and colleagues – the more the merrier and the bigger impact we’ll have! After a group photo and the talks, we have just a couple more miles to The Yards Park in southeast DC where we’ll find the luggage trucks and you can reunite with your gear. From there, it’s easy to be picked up or take public transportation back home or to your hotel. We’ll surely miss you.

So that’s Day 5…it’s quite an adventure and a fitting end to a terrific week. So ride safely out there everyone, and have fun!