e Biking in Washington DC is an adrenaline rush!
Since I live in the nation’s capital, I can ride year round. It is a totally different experience than walking or running for exercise. Plus it is a great way to explore different neighborhoods that are far from my condo.
I feel a sense of Deja vu as I eBike around the back streets of the Historic Capitol Hill district this morning. I suddenly remembered being a preteen and riding my bike everywhere growing up in Silver Spring, Maryland. As a kid, I loved hopping on my bike to cruise different neighborhoods or just wander endlessly. I flew down hills.
Historic Capitol Hill District
Today there are a few masked dog walkers and runners. No cars in sight. I can cruise down the middle of A St. NE with a sense of abandon on my electric bike. My goal is to explore an 18-block stretch from Seward Square to the outskirts of Gallaudet University.
I will also travel eight blocks from the Library of Congress, crossing from 1st Street NE through 8th Street NE. I probably have never driven my car through Stanton Park neighborhood before. There are orange and red leaves in the road. I frequently stop to admire the Halloween decorations, such as the spider crawling up a cobweb.
e Biking in Washington DC
I think a lot of people let their bikes gather dust in the garage or let a flat tire discourage them from an adventure. (A former city bicyclist now living in the suburbs confesses to me this afternoon. No names will be mentioned to shame!)
But riding my e bike in the city on a quiet weekend morning is sublime. I am in awe as I gaze on the leaves of stately trees that are beginning to change to red and orange. The rowhouses feature many different architectural styles, including Queen Anne and Federal.
Faster Way to See More
My routine is to walk from my condo in Mount Vernon Triangle to the U.S. Capitol every morning before work. But I can only spend two hours on my exercise so I never get any further than A St NE. Then I must turn around and head back home.
However, this weekend morning, I decide I want to explore the surrounding neighborhoods in NE Washington by “pedal power.” After cycling past the Supreme Court, I head down A Street NE until I reach 3rd Street NE.
Virtually Ride Along on Map
Then I methodically ride my bike all the way down to I Street NE before I turn right to ride back on a parallel route via 4th Street NE. e Biking in Washington DC is a strangely fun way to explore my city. Imagine dragging your finger up and down streets and alleys on the plastic StreetSmart Washington DC map.
Search for Felines
Since it is still early on a chilly weekend, I don’t encounter a lot of car traffic (hurrah). I just see folks carrying cups of Starbucks coffee, parents pushing jogging cycles and dogs sniffing at lawns.
I only see two cats during my 2.5-hour ride on my Stark bike. A giant inflatable “Halloween” black cat stares at pedestrians. A tabby runs under a car. I want to pet the tabby but he prefers to hide.
Cost of e Bike
I know electric bikes (eBikes) are inordinately expensive. However, it is easy to rent a eBike if you live in a city like Washington DC. I recommend this Top 10 List of e Bike Rentals.
I bought my Stark eBike back in 2017 for $783 when I saw a Fund Me for a Swedish company. It remains one of the smartest investments I made after I moved to Washington DC.
“Cycling is possibly the greatest and most pleasurable form of transport ever invented. Its like walking only with one-tenth of the effort. Ride through a city and you can understand its geography in a way that no motorist, contained by one-way signs and traffic jams, will ever be able to. You can whiz from one side to the other in minutes.”—Daniel Pemberton, The Book of Idle Pleasures
This morning I keep making crazy looping turns on side streets. Somehow I end up on A St SE. This thrills me because I now know how to walk to the historic Eastern Market.
I go there to buy fresh pasta, cheeses and homemade pastries. Rather than hunting to find a parking space, I can now add the 3-mile walk to Eastern Market as a new weekend tradition.
Unforunately, I get lost while e Biking in Washington DC. A St SE doesn’t lead me past any houses I recognize, so I ride my bike back 10 blocks. I don’t know where I am. I actually thought A Street NE would just change into A St SE but it apparently doesn’t work this way.
Finally, as I am totally lost, I pull up a Google map on my iPhone. I find out that the two A streets run parallel to each other. East Capitol Street divides them. I swing my bike around at the intersection of North Carolina Ave and retrace my route.
Finally I see the Library of Congress ahead. I discover Library Court near the Episcopalian church. I must explore this alley on a future trip. Then I fly home for a late breakfast.
“Bicycling…is the nearest approximation I know to the flight of birds.”—Louis J Halle, Spring in Washington
Whenever I think back to my childhood growing up In Silver Spring, Maryland, I always feel nostalgic for my summer days exploring on my purple bike. There were no rules on how far I could venture with my girlfriend Susan, so I was determined to ride further and further—Colesville, Forest Glen, Wheaton and ultimately Norbeck, Maryland.
On a hot weekday morning on summer vacation (before we had our full-time summer clerical jobs in high school), it wasn’t unusual for us to say goodbye to our moms before 9 am and stay out all day. We each made a little pin money from babysitting, so we knew we could afford to buy snacks or candy at a convenience market. My personal favorites were the coke float and the giant sour ball at High’s market.
Powered by the Pedal
But the memory that is most ingrained in my mind is riding to Norbeck in June 1972 at age 13. We had never biked this far. But Susan and I were convinced we could go do it. After Sligo Creek Parkway ended at Route 193, we turned left to bicycle on the sidewalk down University Avenue until we reached Georgia Avenue. Then we turned right and headed all the way to Leisure World adult community. We wanted to see the property’s giant globe, a 40-foot tall metal frame earth located on the southeast corner of Rossmoor Blvd. and Georgia Ave. We thought we spanned the globe by biking this far from Silver Spring—powered by our Keds-clad feet.
As an adult looking back almost 50 years ago, I marvel at our tenacity. We wanted to travel the world, even if it was just to see a fake metal globe located less than 15 miles away (by bike) from our suburban home. And just picturing myself as a 13-year-old on my cruiser bike from Toys r Us gives me such a feeling of girl power. I could do anything. I could go anywhere. I was free. I honestly felt like I was flying when I rode my bike.
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