Trail/road: Rockville residential streets, Rock Creek Trail
Distance: 11 miles
Company: Three other folks who like community bike rides
Because you haven’t heard enough about my National Bike Month hijinks, I also led a community ride on Saturday. Like all of my community rides, I organized it to a place that I myself enjoy riding to – Lake Needwood, at the end of Rock Creek Park. Although the Rock Creek Trail is bumpy, randomly steep, and far too curvy, the northern part of it is also very pretty. And most of the trail’s faults are negated anyway if you’re going slowly enough, which we tend to do on the family-friendly Rockville Bicycle Advisory Committee rides.
These days, I have no expectations about who will show up to an event. I’ve advertised the crud out of events and had no one show up; I’ve done minimal work and had a ton of people show up (unfortunately, this happens a lot less often). So I was pretty happy when three people showed up beyond me, especially because it was the third community ride in a week. One of them was the Committee chair, Nancy, who I don’t exactly need to advocate to, but it was still nice. The other two were a local woman and her friend visiting from Philadelphia. Although he was very experienced, she was just starting to bike regularly.
From Rockville Town Square, we pedaled through the one dodgy intersection and then into a slow, residential area. We biked down Baltimore Road, which is slow, then a little faster, and then quite narrow and speedy. Thankfully, right when it narrows, a fairly wide, well-maintained bike path breaks off from it. Weirdly, that bike path abruptly becomes very narrow and poorly maintained about a mile before it reaches Rock Creek Park – I suspect, right around the city/county line. Rockville takes much better care of the paths in its care than the county does. Instead of continuing down that path, we took a longer, but much more pleasant on-road route.
We wandered up the Rock Creek Trail on a perfect day – warm, but not hot, sunny enough for the light to filter through the trees. The leaves were green, the birds were singing, the river was burbling, and it was almost Disney-like in its loveliness. The conversation was flowing among the participants as well, with a spirited economic discussion going on.
Upon reaching Lake Needwood, we pulled our bikes off for the side, and I whipped out my not-so-surprise picnic. I told everyone I would be bringing cookies and fruit, but I don’t think they really believed me. I set down a green-and-white checked picnic blanket, and then placed out strawberries (not too bruised by packing them with paper towels) and Swedish fruit-filled cookies from that morning’s farmers market. Really delicious. The only problem was the flies – we were swatting gnats so much, it looked like we had made up some very violent form of sign language.
The ride back was similarly relaxed. Our new rider said that she was going to turn back home because she felt she was holding us back, but we reassured her that was certainly not the case. These rides are purposely designed to go at the pace of the slowest rider and help people become comfortable with a variety of ride distances and destinations. I was more than happy to accommodate her needs!
Overall, a small but successful community ride. After all, this outreach is inevitably person by person, relationship by relationship. That’s how real change happens.
Is there a particular natural place you enjoy riding to?