The event planning started early in the day with a volley of emails that fluttered back and forth across the nowhere space of the virtual void between aspiring TNSer RickyD, the regular TNS group, and a few newcomers. Rick had a rather nebulous plan in mind that involved hitting some streets in the district to celebrate Mardi Gras on two wheels. After some additional suggestions, we decided to go with Butch's idea of meeting up with Aussie-wannabe Markie Mark in Georgetown, taking the CCT into Bethesda, then looping around via James Mill Road to the Rock Creek Parkway. From there we would head back into Georgetown to grub and sup at Pizzeria Paradiso, a local joint that has quickly become a favorite TNS stop for reasons I noted in an earlier post. In an email reply, I tallied the number of riders by name, and happened to list RickyD as "Delay-us," a simple play on his last name that would turn out to be prophetic.
In addition to me, Jason, and DT, Gary, JohnnyB, Butch, and newcomer Chris showed up at the usual meeting place in Falls Church. Miraculously, DT had found time to get his fixie up to rideable status, moving the front ring inboard a bit for a welcome and long overdue chainline improvement, and even going so far as to install a fork-mounted bottle opener/flasher bracket. Still no bar tape, though. I showed off the new super-spindly Vittoria 700x25 tires that were all but dwarfed by the cross rims that swallowed their wire beads, my brilliant idea to lose some rolling resistance in exchange for a modicum of largely psychological speed.
Rick finally pulled up late, living up to the moniker I'd given him earlier. We rode circles in the gloaming while he got his stuff together. Then we were off en masse, about 20 minutes behind schedule. Almost immediately, a damp coolness in the air sliced through our clothing, belying the mid-40s temps promised by the digital thermometer in my truck. But we were rolling on the flats right now, and the climbs up ahead through Arlington would provide plenty of heat soon enough.
We followed the usual line along the W&OD and Custis Trails, eventually winding our way without mishap to the Francis Scott Key Bridge (aka the "Car Strangled Spanner"), with me in the lead, hammering on a 48x16 set-up, having swapped out my 44 front ring the previous night with the idea that the skinny tires would compensate. They did.
We crossed Key Bridge into Georgetown, hitting M Street without pause. At one point, I thought I was going to get nailed by a car that was cutting across M Street with the light. I called out "watch left" and arced defensively to the right, directly into the path of Chris, who was right behind me and probably looking left as instructed. His bike t-boned mine, striking my right thigh and rattling both of us for a second, but we stayed upright and continued on. The car, of course, made a blinkerless right turn.
At Wisconsin and M, we made a right in a protracted u-turn of sorts that took us down under the ill-conceived Whitehurst Freeway, through a ribcage of rusting bridge struts that straddles the nether regions of K Street, and to the mouth of the Capitol Crescent Trail (CCT). Here we met up with Markie Mark (aka Scotch), who was milling about idly beneath the crumbling corpse of the old Aqueduct Bridge abutment, no doubt wondering where the hell we were. Scotch showed off his latest eBay acquisition, an orange, drool-inspiring IF. Guess the ol' CrossCheck wasn't blue enough for his noble blood, the lucky bastard.
After some meaningless chatter, we headed off down the unlit CCT, riding parallel to the C&O Canal Trail for a while before crossing over it via a trestle bridge.
At some point, five of us hammerheads sprinted off, leaving the other four behind as we mindlessly competed with each other for the lead in a race that had no prize, no crowd, no purpose. I hung on as best I could, taking the lead once or twice for a minute or two when the others either slacked momentarily or simply conceded to a rare twinge of pathos.
We made it to where the CCT proper terminates in Bethesda and took a moment to wait for the others, who rolled in shortly thereafter. We posed for pix and discussed our options for continuing the ride, ultimately deciding to stick to our original plan, which would add some additional miles to what would otherwise have been an easy out and back on the CCT.
[End Part 1]