And sure, riding around DC can be annoying, dangerous and just plain stupid, but in between all the ridiculousness, there are some pretty sweet trails around here, some of which are smooth enough to compensate for my bike's general shoddiness. (My bike almost self-immolated in Rock Creek Park once when the terrain got a little rough. My bike's got a mean 'tude.)
In the last 48 hours I've ridden the Capital Crescent trail from Georgetown to Bethesda and the Mt. Vernon trail out to Old Town Alexandria. (And to make up for those extra calories burned, I ate four servings of potato chips in one sitting and now feel like I'm going to puke.) Both trails have their pluses and minuses (the main minus being that they are both located in DC), but there can be only one winner, which means it's time for The Official Anti DC Guide To Finding The Least Worst Riding Trails In and Around DC! Hooray!
Contender 1: The Capital Crescent Trail
Starting off in Georgetown, the popped collar capital of the free world and hence forth to be known as simply "hell," this trail goes up through Bethesda and possibly even further. I don't really know. (I never said this was going to be an accurate guide.) Anyway, it's paved the entire way and offers a pretty flat ride, so on a day like this past Tuesday when it was about 70 degrees, you don't have to worry about breaking a sweat, which means you can put off doing your laundry just a little longer.
While the trail was overall very pleasant and peaceful, I did come across a very disturbing scene -- a wayward stuffed animal perched creepily on a bench, a sign that clearly indicates someone was probably kidnapped here.
And what better place to nab a kid than in the dank, dark tunnel that composes a sliver of this trail's midsection?
And then when you're done committing crimes in the dark tunnel, you can discard any evidence or dead bodies in one of several smelly industrial sections of the trail.
Or maybe that's a prison...in which case, watch out, hooligan! But potential crime sights aside, I found the CC Trail only half decent and, weirdly, that decent half originates in hell and ends when you enter Maryland. From hell to Maryland, you get to ride (what feels like, at least) in nature. But once you hit Montgomery County, you're thrust into civilization again, and you know where The Anti DC stands on civilization. People are annoying. What's more annoying is the scenery. Not only are you suddenly surrounded by what could possibly be minimum-security prisons, but you're also forced to look at traffic.
On the bright side, at least you're not in the traffic, but this scenery in no way, shape or form beats the actual nature you get to see while riding alongside the C&O Canal.
Another downside is that this trail ends in Bethesda.
Bethesda sucks. It's kind of like hell, but without the historic buildings. The only plus is that if you ride into town a little there is a pretty excellent Subway and $5-footlongs have the power to improve everything, even Bethesda.
Contender 2: Mt. Vernon Trail to Old Town Alexandria
Originating somewhere near Jefferson's ass, the Mt. Vernon Trail will bring you all the way to, well, Mt. Vernon. However, if you're lazy, you can make your end goal Old Town Alexandria, which is clearly what I did.
Opposite the CCT, the MVT gets better the farther away you get from DC (as it should be). Specifically, it gets all nature-y when you pass National Airport. However, before you pass the airport, it's worth stopping at the park where you can chillax at a picnic table and wait for landing planes to graze your face.
And here's a still capture of the plane's nether-regions, you aero-pervs.
Once you've had your fill of hoping the airplane's toilet doesn't leak on your head, you continue on and you'll ride through bogs (not to be confused with blogs), forests, meadows and bizarre murals.
And before long, you'll come across a narrow, caged-in bridge that offers one of the most unsafe although enticing locales to stop and take a photo -- a convex safety mirror!
Look how small my bike looks! More importantly, look who ridiculous my head looks! While I would like to blame that on the mirror, my headgear looked pretty special all on its own with the helmet layered over the brimmed hat, but you know what? Safety and wrinkle-free face first.
Finally, after about eight or nine miles (I guess), you'll reach Old Town, which is a significantly bigger payoff than Bethesda. Not only are there sailboats and ducks to greet you at the waterfront, but the town's patrons also named a street after the Western European half of my lineage.
Respect. Mt. Vernon Trail for the win!