Gaithersburg, Maryland to Washington D.C. Bike Ride
I began my second fall bike ride to Washington D.C. a week after my previous C & O Canal ride. Starting in Gaithersburg, Maryland in Montgomery County, I took Shady Grove Road to Lake Needwood just east of the city, the start of the Rock Creek Park cycling route. This trip would quickly prove to be a serious test of my cycling endurance and abilities as I road through Montgomery County.
To start with, I immediately took the wrong path at Lake Needwood. I decided to cut towards what was clearly a trail alongside the lake on the right-hand side; later I would discover there is a paved road to my left, which I would have seen had I biked another 100 yards or so. The trail was steep in places, and at one time my chain slipped loose. However, I did get some great views of the lake, so it wasn’t entirely in vain.
After completing that portion of the trip, I found the actual start of the cycling trail and consulted a trail-side wooden stand with maps and notes. The board was crawling with stink bugs, a not uncommon sight in Maryland but more so than usual here. I headed down the path right away, enjoying the otherwise beautiful scenery and perfect weather.
The first mile plunges one immediately alongside the creek, and the shady, wooded area is amazingly idyllic. I found my ride to be a breeze, though I was often tempted to pull over and simply listen to the water.
The trail is by necessity interrupted by road crossings, so riders must take care to watch before heading to the other side. Some of the crossings are extremely busy.
The ride took me further into suburban Maryland, though much of it was masked by forest. It wasn’t until I’d actually reached DC that the park widened to such an extent that no sign of the city could be seen. I found myself in a pack of other riders, all enjoying the conditions and with entire streets closed off to traffic, just for bike riders. Were the trip not starting to wear on me, I’d have found this to be as enjoyable as the start.
Further into the park, I passed numerous barbecues and family gatherings; the smell of cooking food made continuing the journey harder and hard, I’ll admit. I passed the zoo and began to realize that it wasn’t really necessary to complete the entire journey; the point was to enjoy the trip, not force myself into an endurance test. I exited Rock Creek Park around Massachusetts Avenue, walked the bike to Dupont Circle, and had dinner at an Irish restaurant. After enjoying shepherd’s pie, I hopped the Metro and proceeded to head back to my home in central Montgomery County. It was a great fall day, and I look forward to trying it again in the spring.