While taking a bike ride is fun, biking to a destination is even better. Knowing that I’m much more motivated when I’m headed somewhere specific, I came up with the most appealing destinations possible for my Rockville Bicycle Advisory Committee community bike rides. And considering my tastes and the name of my blog, perhaps it’s not surprising that my stops all had to do with delicious food from local businesses. After all, what’s more fun than dessert?
So the weekend before last, I led the first – and hopefully annual – Dessert Ride around Rockville. We started off in front of our library, a beautiful facility in the middle of Town Square. This meeting place was not only centrally located but also the heart of Rockville’s revitalization away from a sprawling suburb to a more community-oriented place. The Square, which replaced a declining, half-abandoned mall, is now teeming with kids playing in the fountain, teenagers dancing on the nearby stage, and diners eating at outdoor tables. It also has a frozen yogurt place and a made-to-order donut shop in case people really needed more dessert after the ride!
Ten eager cyclists joined us for the ride with a diversity of ages and abilities. There was a mother and father with their three girls, a dad with his son, and a few middle-aged ladies. While one guy was sporting a jersey from his workplace, another woman was using her teenaged son’s mountain bike! I gave her a lot of credit for showing up. We also had a video-journalist tagging along, filming a piece on the Bicycle Committee’s rides for Verizon’s local cable network. I thought it was great she was there, as coverage is important to spread the word and I unabashedly enjoy being interviewed. Before we left, I explained that the ride is part of a safety campaign and went over a few basic rules like signaling, following traffic lights, and behaving like a vehicle when riding in the road. While I led the ride, Sophie, another RBAC member, followed up in the back of the pack to ensure everyone knew where they were going.
Our first stop was Maria’s Bakery and Cafe, a little Asian diner/bakery in a strip mall. I ordered peach bubble tea, which was cold and refreshing. Although Maria’s is good, I also had a more practical reason to plot the course to that location. Rockville has a huge, busy road, called Rockville Pike, splitting it down the middle. As a result, many people think of the town as bike-unfriendly because they automatically assume you would have to bike on the Pike to get anywhere. Beyond the fact that there’s quite a bit more to Rockville than the Pike, there’s also a quiet neighborhood street that parallels a good chunk of it. By biking from the Rockville Metro Station to Maria’s, which is near the Twinbrook Metro station, I also showed the group an easy, safe alternative to taking Rockville Pike. As there’s also an REI store and bicycle shop in the same plaza, I think it’s a route many people will find handy.
Our second stop, Cake Dreams, was back up by Town Square. This time, I designed the route so that I could bring the rider on the Millennium Trail, show them a shortcut into town, and bring them on some of busier roads they might not be comfortable on by themselves. As a bonus, we found out that the bakery had just won Cupcake Wars! Despite that, I wasn’t particularly craving a cupcake myself. I planned on packing one for Chris, but the staff wisely recommended against that course of action, considering the potential for mushy disaster. I meant to buy one after the ride for him, but sadly forgot – sorry, honey.
Carmen’s Italian Ice – a frequent bicycling stop for me, it seems – was our final location. Much like Kristin did, my fellow riders found this quirky frozen dessert shop charming. My Jersey-style frozen custard was particularly refreshing in the warm weather. Although we were sad to see them go, this stop was also the end of the line for several of our participants. Before they biked home, they thanked me and said they would be interested in future destination rides. Success!
We closed the ride with a leisurely climb back up to Town Square. On the way back, I chatted with the one dad, who himself had grown up in Rockville. We discussed what he experienced in the 1980s and how much my neighborhood has changed since then. Beyond the historical perspective, it was also quite helpful having him with me, as he pointed out two different turns I nearly missed. I had biked the route on my own several times and printed out maps as a backup, but somehow managed to leave that one section of the map at home. Thankfully, no one else noticed.
The ride closed with more thanks on both sides, with them happy for it being organized and me very appreciative for them showing up. Overall, I was thrilled at how well the ride went. All of us got some exercise, increased our experience biking on the road, spent time with our neighbors, enjoyed local businesses, and perhaps most importantly, had fun. I look forward to the next one and only hope it goes as well!