Sometimes, being a snob can be a good thing. Especially if you can spin it into a hilarious blog and a couple of books as Bike Snob NYC (aka Eben Weiss) has managed to. Or in other words, what I would love to be. So I was pretty excited to go on a community ride sponsored by BicycleSpace featuring him as a guest rider.
Starting off near BicycleSpace’s new facility at Mount Vernon Square, we waited….and waited….and waited. As I didn’t ride my own bike to work, I had gotten a Capital Bikeshare out and was getting a bit antsy. Only the first half-hour of CaBi is free and I had already used a good amount of it up biking up there! Trying not to imagine my fee climbing up, I spent a bit of time talking to a couple of fellow cyclists who were surprised that I was taking CaBi at all. A lot of enthusiasts have never used CaBi because they own their own bicycles and the CaBis are so darn heavy and slow. At first, they gave me a bit of a side look for even taking one, but I gained their respect after I mentioned participating in the Climate Ride.
Finally, the Bike Snob himself stood up and welcomed us all. He said that despite his reputation, he was excited to be in D.C. and wanted to see “the Lincoln thing.”
We headed down the road, blocking up traffic despite the fact that we were (mostly) trying to stay in one lane. It didn’t help that we were trying to do this in the middle of rush hour. As I described to someone before the ride, the BicycleSpace rides are like a less angry version of Critical Mass. While Critical Mass aims to block up the road and not allow cars move, we sometimes happen to do so accidentally out of sheer volume. Personally, I much prefer taking up space out of enthusiasm for bicycling to just being a pain for the sake of it.
We meandered past the White House, rolled through the Foggy Bottom neighborhood, and pedaled up to that “Lincoln thing.” It was cluttered with tourists like usual and they looked a bit befuddled by the mass of cyclists. We then worked our way around Ohio Dr and Independence Ave, past the fully in-bloom cherry blossom trees. Even though the warm weather is pleasant now, its premature arrival doesn’t bode well for either the cherry blossom or agricultural seasons. Nonetheless, the white flowers were still terribly pretty in the setting sun.
We swung around the tip of Washington’s waterfront, into a section of the city I’ve never been, even though it’s very close to my workplace. We pedaled through a new river-side park, past the Titanic Memorial statue (which has an odd resemblance to Jack’s King of the World Pose), and then out to an area with a lot of warehouses. Going through the neighborhood, we received a few comments from the young adult peanut gallery. They were mostly positive though, far more than ones we got from drivers elsewhere.
We worked our way up to the Nationals Stadium and suddenly started climbing a hill – it was the baseball stadium’s parking garage! It was a bit of a challenge on a CaBi bike, which are terribly heavy, but we were going slow. On the way up, I noticed huge silvery baseballs hanging from the side, which looked like trippy floating balloons. Another detail I probably wouldn’t have noticed driving a car.
When we reached the top of the garage, we took a break. We were able to look down on the stadium and the rest of D.C., a very cool perspective.
We had the traditional BicycleSpace ride Popsicles, which were even more ridiculous than usual. They were Jolly Rancher ones that reminded me of Willy Wonka gobstoppers and even had goofy puns on the sticks.
As the Bike Snob still had a few more books left to give away, he decided he would do so via a set of contests. The first one was a race to see who could collapse their folding bike the fastest, the first I’ve ever seen. It was…awkward. The other contests weren’t quite as exciting – the one guy who even bothered trying to name all of the presidents and a person who came from the furthest away (Phoenix, for the National Bicycle Summit) won them.
After a roll around the Yards Park where we managed to avoid falling in the water feature, we wound back to the Capital and then to the store. We got a bit split up, which made riding in D.C. traffic a bit scarier, but we ended up in one piece by the end.
Overall, a great tour of D.C. for both locals and visitors alike. I just hope that Bike Snob enjoyed it as much as I did!