By 6:45 am on Tuesday, I had checked my tire pressure, performed a quick check on my brakes and derailleurs and gathered my helmet, shoes and glasses. At 7 am, I headed out into the light rain for a ride. In my car.
I had plans to ride at 8 am at Prince William Forest Park, a wonderfully scenic U.S. national park with many, many miles of virtually car-free paved riding located slightly more than 30 miles south of the District of Columbia. One of the many perks of working in the bicycle industry is that my employer encourages his team to ride bikes (makes sense, right?), and a sizable group of employees will be participating together in the Sea Gull Century in a few weeks. The goal for the day was to get in a nice, long training ride in preparation for the upcoming century.
So, with my bike, my gear and plenty of fluids and nutrition packed into my car, I started my engine and hoped that the rain would not create even more congestion on I-495 as I attempted to get out of DC before the pinnacle of rush hour. I made my way south amid four lanes of traffic, with plenty of time to enjoy a PB&J and a banana.
We all arrived at the park, in our own separate cars, by 8am from our various points of origin, ready to ride. Despite the persistent misting/drizzling weather situation, we rode in the park for more than four hours, conquering 65.5 miles. Any stress from the commute to the ride was immediately erased when we began pedaling, and after several hours in the saddle in extremely peaceful and safe surroundings, I was very happy to have braved the traffic to experience a morning away from car horns and exhaust fumes.
Fortunately, it is also easy for me to do a training ride without the use of an automobile. I reside just a few miles away from the Capital Crescent Trail, which runs from Bethesda, Maryland into Georgetown, DC, where I can then take my pick of paved trails in the extensive network built in Northern Virginia simply by crossing a bridge (which also has a generous bicycle/pedestrian segregated lane).
Sometimes, however, it is nice to leave the congestion of the city behind, even if it requires joining it on the way out. I am clearly not alone in this practice, as Interbike was littered with car rack manufacturers, including everyone from veteran companies such as Thule and Saris to innovative new companies such as Sea Sucker with vacuum-mount bike racks. It is okay to be pro-bike without being anti-automobile, because every once in awhile, an automobile is necessary to transport you and your bicycle to a place where you can ride for more than four uninterrupted hours, alternating between discussing product lines and business practices, cracking jokes that are only funny when you’ve depleted a certain amount of your glucose reserves, and putting your head down and thinking only about spinning circles.