Friday, June 25, 2010

Leesburg Loop of Lusty Libations...

Okay, in an effort to fulfill my burgeoning backlog of Single Speed Outlaw Factory Team obligations, and because I like bikes and beer and boozers, I've got a little ride all set up this Saturday for anyone out there with similar interests who doesn't mind acting on short notice.

First, allow me to bore you with a little background.

About this time last year, I did a solo ride along the C&O Canal towpath, with the idea of doing the White's Ferry Loop in reverse. From Arlington, I rode into Georgetown to pick up the towpath, then headed west. Once at White's Ferry (near mile marker 35), I crossed the Potomac to the Virginia side to make my way into Leesburg. Afer disembarking, I wended my way up the duodenum-shaped access road to get on Route 655 (White's Ferry Road).

About a mile away, at the first intersection, I noticed something a bit out of the ordinary. Southbound traffic on Route 15 was backed up for miles and moving oh so slowly. When the light changed, I took advantage of the gridlock to weave between idling behemoths and find my spot on the road’s margin.

Rolling down 15, I saw up ahead that a couple of constables had pulled their cruisers over onto the shoulder and fired up the cherries. My first thought was that an accident had occurred, but as I approached, I realized that was not the case. Cars were turning off the highway and onto a gravel road on my right that led off into a massive field. Looking in that direction, I saw in the distance the tell-tale pavilions and throngs of people and parked cars that signaled a major outdoorsy event. So I slowed and asked Eddie and Lou if a wine festival was underway. One of the two clones shook his head and simply said, "Beerfest."

Needless to say, that was all I had to hear.

I paid my way in and lost a few hours at the 2nd (2nd?) Annual Northern Virginia Brewfest sampling microbrews and downing dogs. Unlike most events like this, it seemed there were enough vendors that the lines were only two or three drunkards deep at any one time. At any rate, lots of great breweries represented that day, and I expect this year's event to be no different.

Okay, on with the ride description:

The first half of this loop will take us all along the scenic C&O Canal Trail from Georgetown to White’s Ferry. We’ll hop aboard the ferry ($1 per person) and float our way across the pristine waters of the Potomac, then pedal a mile to Route 15 in Leesburg. From there, we'll take the shoulder a quarter mile south to attend the 3rd Annual Northern Virginia Brewfest, held on the grounds of Morven Park. After supping sudsy samples and gorging ourselves with grub, we’ll jump back on the bikes for the second half of the loop. From Leesburg, we’ll take the W&OD Trail into Northern Arlington, then switch to the Custis Trail for the final leg into Georgetown.

Some important information:

  • This loop is approximately 80-miles long. Adding in a couple hours at the brewfest means that this is, essentially, an all-day ride, even though we will be back before sunset.
  • The pace will be moderate, with short breaks each way as necessary. Though not a fast-paced ride, this one isn’t for people with questionable endurance. That said, no one will be left behind.
  • The terrain varies from crushed limestone hardpack (C&O Canal Trail) to smooth asphalt (W&OD and Custis Trails). A ‘cross bike or similar with size 32 tires or wider is recommended.
  • Parking is available in the public (free) parking lot at Teddy Roosevelt Island, just off the George Washington Memorial Parkway. If you are traveling NORTH on the GW Parkway, the lot is just past the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge on your left. If you are traveling SOUTH on the GW parkway, take the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge to Constitution Ave, then take a right on 23rd St. and cross Memorial Bridge. Once on the bridge, bear right to return to the parkway heading north. The closest METRO STATION is Rosslyn, less than a mile away, so this is a good option.
  • There is a fee to attend the brewfest. The fee will be approximately $25. I suggest buying your ticket at the gate and not in advance, in case you can’t make the ride.
  • Obligatory disclaimer: Drinking and biking can be dangerous. Drink and bike responsibly! The brewfest is a sampling event, not an all-day bender. Neither I nor The Bicycle Escape (nor any employees thereof) assumes liability for anyone participating in this ride and/or in the activities surrounding it. Participation in this ride and/or in the brewfest is entirely voluntary.
  • Time permitting, we may grab dinner in Georgetown; plenty of great options.
  • The rain date for this event will be the very next day, Sunday, June, 27. All other details remain the same.

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