Traveling by bike is really the only way to see the sights in Washington, DC. The National Mall is two miles long and several hundred yards wide. Just walking up and down that stretch will wear you out. If you add on all the side tracks like the Tidal Basin and the FDR/Jefferson Memorials, your family’s happy day of sight seeing will turn into a death march.
My wife and son helped me re-validate this point when they accompanied me on a short pedal around the nation’s capital. The weather was perfect – sunny in the mid 70s with no wind. We offloaded our bikes in a parking lot near the Jefferson Memorial (tip: avoid parking on the Mall. Even if you’re lucky enough to find a spot, it’s no place to be screwing around with bikes on a rack) and set out on our journey. In short order, we visited a garden with a statue of Jefferson, the Jefferson Memorial, and the FDR Memorial, where dismounting is required. I guess the Park Service frowns upon skateboarders and cyclists reeking havoc amongst the tourists.
At this point, we picked up the sidewalk next to the Tidal Basin. It’s a pretty cool place to ride because the view is awesome and there is an element of danger as you duck under cherry trees on a sidewalk with nothing between you and a two foot drop off into the Basin. We then arrived at the Mall and pedaled around the Washington Monument. I pointed out to my son that his grandfather ran to the top of this building many years ago with his high school track team. This seemed to generate more questions than answers! We then passed the WWII Memorial and continued westward alongside the Reflecting Pool, right next to the spot where Forrest Gump kissed Jenny!!!
Upon reaching the Lincoln Memorial, we doubled back, skirting the Vietnam Memorial. After reaching the WWII Memorial for the second time, we headed BACK toward the Lincoln Memorial on the opposite side of the Reflecting Pool. This gave us the opportunity to see the Korean War Memorial. At this point, my son’s “fun meter” was officially pegged, so we decided to head back to the truck. We pedaled down a wide sidewalk next to the Potomac and arrived safe and sound.
The entire trip was only 5.5 miles and our average speed was a mere 7 mph, which just proves that statistics aren’t the only ingrediants which can make up a great cycling day. Old Ironsides held up well in its new role as “family bike,” and my wife absolutely loved the fact that DC is quite possibly the flattest city on Earth. We rode 5.5 miles and climbed only 46 feet. There’s a lot to be said for that kind of terrain!
Later in the day, I decided to take the Trek out on a second ride. I attempted to keep my heart rate in Zone 3 in order to have a fat-burning workout. It’s not as easy as one might think. I’m conditioned to going all-out when exercising. While this sort of workout has its place, it’s not the best for burning fat. “Taking it easy” will take some practice, I’m afraid!