I'm not biking this whole way just to take a picture in front of the White House.
October 10, 2012 9:09 PM   Subscribe

Biking to Washington, DC, arriving Oct 19 and leaving the 21st. What should I do (bike-related and not) while I'm there?

Y'all helped me have a nice time in San Francisco and Portland with my bike, and I figured I would ask for more travel help.

I've been planning my trip so far with the purpose of getting there and haven't thought much about what I'll do once I've arrived. I'll be arriving in the early afternoon on the 19th, staying in a friend's place in Vienna, and leaving some time on the 21st, and that's about all I know. I'd prefer to get around by bike, but I'm not opposed to taking the metro if it's bike friendly.

If there's some sort of neat bike-related thing going on that weekend, or a particularly scenic bike trail, or cool things in general that are easy to get to by bike, I want to know. I'm also interested in restaurant recommendations, with the caveat that I'm a vegan.

Are there weird DC bike idiosyncrasies (locking, helmets, laws, whatever)? I don't want to bike all that distance, only to get a ticket for doing or not doing something, or lock up my bike with my u-lock to find when I get back that my rack or front tire has been stolen.

My only plans so far are to go to some bike shops, test-ride some imported city bikes, and eat lots of delicious vegan food. There's gotta be something more for me to do (though if anyone knows where I can test some nice imported Dutch or English or Italian bikes I'd be much obliged). I went to DC earlier this year as a tourist, but mostly stuck around the Mall, museums (Newseum, Crime and Punishment, Spy Museum), and also made my way to the Zoo.

For what it's worth, I'm a Pittsburgh cyclist who averages somewhere between 15 to 20 hilly-to-mountainous miles a day, is comfortable with somewhere up around 60 or 70 miles, and I'll be on a road bike. To be fair, I'll be coming off of 5 days of biking about 70 miles a day.
posted by vulgar_wheat to Travel & Transportation around Washington, DC (8 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
How about checking out some cyclocross racing at DCCX before you leave on Sunday morning?
posted by golden at 10:12 PM on October 10, 2012

The National Arboretum is great visited by bike and should be very pretty with fall color in a couple of weeks.
posted by drlith at 4:13 AM on October 11, 2012

The Daily Rider has some neat bikes. Be careful that you don't get a wheel stuck in the trolley tracks on H St.

I like the bike trails along the Anacostia as they are never as crowded as the more popular trails on the west side of town, and they offer neat views of the river/wetlands. Unfortunately the northern branches don't yet connect directly to the southern branches (PDF) - you have to get on the road. I second the recommendation of the Arboretum which is in that area. Also on that route, check out Kingman Island for a neat natural oasis a couple of miles from the Capitol.

BicycleSpace has a lot of events.

I don't think there are any weird laws - I believe you supposed to legally have a bell, but I have never heard of it being enforced. Obviously carry a good lock or two.

Bikes are allowed on Metro except during rush hour, but you must use the elevators not the escalators.

There are some unusual cycle tracks on 14th St NW and Penn. Ave. NW that might be worth checking out if you're into urban planning for bicycles.
posted by exogenous at 6:33 AM on October 11, 2012

So glad someone has mentioned DCCX. Seconding! It's a great race, and just gets better every year. Even if you don't race (since you only have your road bike), spectating is super fun. Beer, frites, heckling. It goes on all day, but it's most fun to watch the higher categories & tandem race a bit later in the afternoon.

Regarding vegan food, check out Sticky Fingers Bakery in Columbia Heights. They have sweets, but also cafe-type savory foods - and it's all very good! They also sponsor a local women's cycling team. Win-win, right?

The Science Club near Dupont has tasty vegan options, too. Fun place. Best to go in the evening and get some drinks!

If you have any chance to drive, I very highly recommend Great Sage, but it's all the way in Clarksville, MD. It's probably the best vegan restaurant I've ever been to, though.

(PM me if you go to DCCX. Maybe we can meet over some beer & frites!)
posted by TessaGal at 6:39 AM on October 11, 2012

Mark's Kitchen in Takoma Park has some really good vegan food; a dairy-allergic friend loves their vegan milkshakes. It's also a cute neighborhood, although I'm biased because the vintage store I work at is there.
posted by nonasuch at 7:25 AM on October 11, 2012

Are you biking here on the C&O (and then W&OD?).

Definetly check out the bikeshare program (Capital Bikeshare), although a 3 speed bike share bike is definetly gonna be slower than what you're riding. But we have the largest system in the US right now, and it works great.

Try out some of the great bike infrastructure as noted earlier.

You mike check out the site BikeWashington (www.bikewashington.org - referenced earlier) for some ideas of good rides.

I do about 80-100 miles every weekend, largely on a combination of roads and paved trails, so can give you some thoughts on some good rides. Riding down to Mt Vernon (36 miles roundtrip from DC on a paved trail) is a great ride, as is a broad loop around the City on the Capital Crescent, Georgetown Branch, and Sligo Creek Trails.
posted by waylaid at 8:48 AM on October 11, 2012

Response by poster: All y'all are awesome. I'm always interested in hearing more, but y'all might have managed to fill my weekend. I'm not going to mark anything as best because it's all pretty helpful.

I'll almost certainly to to part of DCCX. If you see someone with very short seagreen hair, it's probably me.

waylaid: Yeah, I'm coming into DC via the GAP and C&O, and it looks like I'll be going back and forth from Vienna by the W&OD.
posted by vulgar_wheat at 4:22 PM on October 11, 2012

This has been built since I moved away, so I don't know how bikeable it is in total, but the Cross County Trail runs from one end of Fairfax County to the other through stream valleys.
posted by jocelmeow at 9:47 AM on October 14, 2012

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