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September 13, 2022 / bikesbytesbites

DC Bike Ride (September, 2022)

The DC Bike Ride was held this past Saturday. The ride is unique in the DC area, as it reserves the route for bicycles — cars are not allowed. The route stays in DC, mostly near the Potomac, with dips into Virginia via the 14th Street and Memorial bridges. In fact, DC Bike Ride is just about the only time I’ve been on the express lanes of the 14th Street Bridge. The ride ends on Pennsylvania Ave where the Finish Festival provides entertainment, booths staffs by local businesses, and some food — free and otherwise.

I served as a “mobile marshal”. Ross (a friend, also serving as a mobile marshal) got to my house at 6 AM and we had a lovely ride into DC. We inspected and repaired bikes and inflated lots of underinflated tires (Ross was carrying a floor pump) as the riders arrived and moved to the staging areas for beginner, intermediate, or advanced riders. Then I rode along with the ride, starting with the intermediate riders and falling back into the beginner riders as I stopped to help with repairs and riders continued past me.

I didn’t have any major repairs or adjustments. (Whew.) For kicks, I kept track of the help I provided. It was fairly typical for a ride with a mixed bunch of riders and bikes. It included:

  • Fixing a flat (on the rear wheel, of course.) The bike rider did some of the work, as I supervised. Conte’s provided a repair kit that included tubes in five different sizes (with different valve types), as well as a CO2 inflater and cartridges. (Kit to be returned at the finish festival.)
  • Adjusting helmet fit. (Those straps can be finicky and, of course, different helmets have different ways of adjusting the straps.)
  • Reattaching a pedal! (I’m glad I brought an old-style adjustable crescent wrench for this one.)
  • Booting a shredded tire and provided a spare tube.
  • Adjusting saddles – minor height adjustments plus directing someone to the Conte’s tent at the start so they could get a better view to change the tilt.
  • Helping someone lift a bike, with attached trailer, over a highway divider, so she could shorten the ride. (Another kid, on his own bike, was getting tired. This occurred on one of the highways, which are out-and-back, with a U-turn at the end.)
  • Unsticking stuck cranks — I pulled one chain out from between the biggest cassette cog and the rear wheel or disentangled one from a derailleur. (Gave instructions: As soon as you feel pressure, stop pedaling!)
  • Rear derailleur not shifting – This one I referred to Conte’s.

I saw one crash, thankfully not serious. I was a little behind the rider and saw her go down. (Just a single bike; reason unknown.) She was with a friend and he helped get untangled from the bike and move to the side of the road. In the meantime, I used my bike to form a protect them and the bike and direct the oncoming cyclists around them. The bike was undamaged, the rider’s scrapes were treated, and they were soon on their way.

I got to the Finish Festival in time to actually look around; collect coupons (from, among others, REI and Dunkin’ Donuts); get a free sample of non-dairy ice cream; and talk to the people at the WABA and Amtrak (Amtrak!) booths. Then, Ross and I found each other, handed in our repair kits, and headed back to Virginia with a stop for lunch at Island Time Bar & Grill at the Columbia Island marina.

It took 2.5 hours to ride 17 miles, but it was a great way to spend the time.

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