Sunday, September 7, 2008

Down the Mt. Vernon Trail

There are a lot of great places to ride in the Washington, DC area, as we are blessed with a copious quantity of trees, rolling hills, and historic locations. Probably one of the best well-known trails in the area is the Mt. Vernon Trail. I don't normally enjoy trail riding, as trails are inevitably overrun by SUV-sized strollers, and generally do not allow for fast riding and good pacing. However, as long as you avoid this trail on the weekends, it is actually a very good ride. There were a few nervous moments, as one of the downsides is the copious quantity of wooden slat bridges (can we say a tire blowout waiting to happen???), but there were also gorgeous views of the various National Monuments, getting overpassed by 727s near National Airport, and beautiful panoramic views of the Potomac.

On Thursday, I went on another buddy ride, and it is a very good thing that I had made a commitment to meet someone else, because I woke up tired and unmotivated after our 30-mile ride on Tuesday up Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park.

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If you look at the map, from approximately Military Road to the start/end point, there is quite the long slow gradual hill (which are rapidly becoming the bane of my existence I might add). That is why Erika and I were so tired when we started riding on Thursday.

However, we pushed each other to ride hard, keep a good pace for the most part, and spend some time on tactics such as drafting. The first 5 miles of the ride were particularly hard, as we were warming up, but after that we managed to get motivated and ride a bit harder to increase our overall pace. As you can see, the ride goes through Old Town Alexandria, so it provided a good means to say "we made it this far...we can make it all the way":

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By the time we hit the steepest climb of the ride (at about mile 15), we were tired but feeling accomplished. We paused at the southern-most point of the ride, Mile 0 of the Mt. Vernon Trail for a picture:
Oddly, the way back was faster and more productive from a training perspective. Maybe I was also learning to enjoy the winding pathways through the hardwoods that are a bit challenging at 17mph, but fun nonetheless. By the time we finished, we promised to meet again on Tuesday to try and start some interval training (those dreaded hills....). Saturday's group ride was a complete wash-out due to the remains of Hurricane Hannah, but that just means I'll be rarin' to go for the next fun buddy ride!

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