Thursday, September 26, 2019

Forest Glen Cycle: I Can Ride a Bike!

I'll be honest here. I mostly included cycling in Project Crow because I needed a "C" for crow. I've had a bike for a while, but I rarely ride it. I want to be a cyclist, but I'm all kinds of scared about it. But I've had a shin injury recently that has kept me from running at all, so if I have any plans to Crow about DC, I'm going to need to get on my bike.

The thing about cycling home from a Metro station is that you have to take your bike on the Metro to get to the starting station. I decided I didn't want to have to jam my bike into my minivan and drive to my home Metro station, so I decided my first bike excursion would be to figure out exactly how the hell to ride from my neighborhood to Forest Glen. Unfortunately, the roads between there and my home are not bicycle friendly. I rarely see cyclists on them and there are cyclists who ride everywhere!

I deduced that there have to be other ways to get to the station without taking a million-mile detour around Wheaton to get there so I took to Google Maps and did some close-up inspecting of the satellite images to find a route that avoided Newcastle Avenue from one direction or Capitol View Avenue from the other. I thought I'd found a good route that would put me on Capitol View for only about a block or so, which is terrifying, but doable. But then! I found a cut-through that wasn't even on the map version of Google Maps, but was visible on the satellite view and I managed to avoid Capitol View altogether except to cross straight across it. If you ever drive on Capitol View Avenue, you understand why this is a good thing.

Selfie of Jean in a bike helmet. You can see part of the bike she is sitting on.
It's hard to take a selfie that shows both you and your bike.
I recently switched from flat to clipless pedals and this was to be my first ride using them. I'd practiced unclipping before and found that the kind of pedals I purchased release when my leg makes a panicked "oh shit, I have to put my foot down immediately" motion, so I felt okay about venturing out of my driveway in them. Spoiler alert: I didn't fall down once.

My journey to Forest Glen was more than a mile longer than my return trip. This is because I did a quick trip around a parking lot first to make sure I could still ride a bike (I can!) and I made some wrong turns. I also forgot to turn off and restart my Garmin right at the Metro station so my ride home was a little shorter than it should have been.

Screenshot of two ride summaries; the top is 1.89 miles in 17:20 at 6.5mph and the bottom is 3.02 miles in 31:13 at 5.8 mph
The top one is the ride from Metro to home; the bottom is to the station.
I could not have felt more proud of myself. It is very scary for me to do something so new on an unfamiliar path by myself. And I did all of it. Go me! I got a lot of practice switching gears because my route was very up and down. I don't think it was all that steep or hard, but I definitely got out of breath and sweaty. It felt awesome.

My pace wasn't great either direction because I stopped now and again to look at maps, cross roads, take photos, or walk my bike up/down a couple of very short steep sections. I'm okay with that.

Elevation chart showing rolling hills.
This was elevation just for the actual Crow ride (from the station to my neighborhood).
My route was pretty convoluted. Honestly, the hardest/most stressful part was crossing Capitol View. Other than that, I rode through quiet neighborhood streets. Leaving Forest Glen, I headed away from Forest Glen Road and into the neighborhood behind the station. From there, I went through McKenney Hills Park, which I'd never been to before. I did have to dismount to walk my bike across a narrow bridge on which there were numerous children and their adults. I'm new to bike etiquette, but zinging past them and probably mowing down a few because of my inexperience seemed unwise.

A map of most of my route
My route.
I actually really loved this. I see more of these rides in my near future. I just have to make sure I find more stations accessible by small, unbusy neighborhood streets because I don't want to get hit by a car.


Photo of Jean in a bike helmet in front of the Forest Glen Metro station entrance

Metro station: Forest Glen
Line: Red Line
Distance: 1.89 miles
Time: 17:20
Pace: 6.5 mph
Crow sightings: Not a damn one.
Interesting tidbit: It actually took me longer to bike this route from Forest Glen than it took me to run a different route from the same station!