Friday, May 17, 2013


This month marks the one year anniversary of my bike blog and, although I haven’t managed to write as frequently lately, I am biking with no less enthusiasm. Today’s bike to work day provided a chance to share the bike love with thousands of other cycling enthusiasts in the metro area. According to the Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA), there were over 14,000 registered riders this year.

I decided to take a small detour to make my first pit stop at Fresh Bikes in the Ballston area of Arlington – and was glad I did, as I filled my little backpack with high-quality tchotchkes: a pair of Bike Arlington cycling socks (my choice of black or white), a reflective vest, clip on blinky lights for both front and back (the nice kind with a stretchy strap so they won’t fall off), small container of sunscreen, a Cliff bar (I only noticed after I’d eaten half of it – with caffeine), and a banana. I thanked the nice folks from Java Shack for sponsoring BTWD13. I passed on the bagel, thinking I could get one when I hit DC.

I was entertained by a unicyclist and talked to the folks at Phoenix Bikes about donating a bike. They are a nonprofit organization that fixes up and provides affordable bikes to young people in Arlington, as well as teaching them bicycle maintenance skills and the opportunity to “earn a bike” by working in their shop, which is conveniently located along the W&OD Trail.

I thought the Custis Trail might be crowded today, so I took advantage of my pit stop detour to take the “city” route through Arlington. While there are bike lanes nearly the whole way, it requires navigating the bike rider’s hell known as Rosslyn. I’ve lived in Arlington since 1986, but Rosslyn continues to defeat my weak sense of direction. The traffic-clogged streets with drivers headed to the Key, Roosevelt, and Memorial bridges into DC are an incomprehensible maze. However, there was a huge gathering at the Rosslyn pit stop – probably five times the number of people I found at Fresh Bikes. Unfortunately I didn’t have time to cruise for goodies, because – the nerve – someone had scheduled a 9 a.m. meeting at work and I still wanted to stop at Freedom Plaza to pick up my T-shirt.

Passing by the Rosslyn Pit Stop
While it was clogged getting through Rosslyn and onto the Mt Vernon Trail, the commute felt much like any other nice bike riding day. There didn't appear to be many additional riders. Perhaps most of the cyclists were clustered at the pit stops: sipping coffee, or picking up power bars, water bottles, stickers, maps, and other fun bike stuff. Freedom Plaza, my registered pit stop in DC, close to the office, was packed with pedal-powered commuters. I remembered that last year this stop was relocated – perhaps because a few remaining vestiges of the occupy DC movement were still camped in Freedom Plaza. That feels like a long time ago.

Lots of people and bikes at Freedom Plaza
  Compared to Arlington, there was less swag, but perhaps more spirit, at my DC stop. Unlike last year: no bagels – so I made do with another power bar and piece of fruit, a bright blue Bike to Work Day 2013 T-shirt and extra-large water bottle. As I often feel riding to work, the time in the saddle – the best part of my day – went by too quickly.

Waiting for BTWD13 T-Shirts

You could get your bike worked on at all the pit stops!