Urban Trails, exploring Silver Spring’s trails

Exploring the Urban Trails of Silver Spring, MD.

This past weekend was the 2106 MORE Winter Party/Meeting and a handful of us had a chance to explore some of the urban trails around Rock Creek along Silver Spring, Maryland. These are a few of the snapshots from that outing.

While we hit some off-road tangents, the majority of this route is clearly documented in Best Bike Rides Washington DC, a ride where I take riders along the entire Upper Rock Creek Corridor to Montgomery County and back along the Mathew Henson Trail, a hidden gem in this region’s trail system.

About a dozen of us headed out from the Gwendolyn E. Coffield Social Hall in Silver Spring, MD and hit the CCT (Capital Crescent Trail – not to be confused with Virginia’s Cross County Trail) before joining the Upper Rock Creek trail. From there we meandered through some of the adjacent neighborhood trails and explored other portions of the famous urban by-way before making it back to the starting point and the festivities of the 2016 MORE winter Party.

Bike Case

Should I pack or rent a bike?

I had been working on this post for a while – shortly before I headed down to Peru with a group of friends to ride in the Scared Valley and in the Capital of the Inca Empire. I wanted to give the “first timers” a quick bit of advice on whether or not to take their bike, and if so, how to pack it. But as it usually happens, the post got buried in my “drafts” folder and didn’t make the light of day. Until today – a rainy day in Virginia where there is not much left to do but sit in front of the computer and get those drafts finished. And, to boot, I got an email from the guys at Sacred Rides on the very subject. Not entirely sure how they got into my back-end to grab my content 😉

So, below, find the content of a post that was drafted in late March before my trip down to Peru and finally finished today…


Every time I head down to Peru (or for that matter anywhere) I ask myself the same two questions: Should I pack it? or should I rent it? The answer usually depends on a couple of factors:

  1. How long is the trip for?
  2. How much will it cost to rent vs to pack?

If I’m traveling for more than a week to ten days and I know I’m going to ride at least half that time, then it’s a no brainer. I pack it. If the trip is only a short one, and the riding time is limited, then, again, it’s a no brainer. I rent it. There are exceptions though…

Generally, if the trip is specifically to ride I always pack my bike, especially if I know the final destination doesn’t have quality bike shops with good rental fleets. But, if the destination is a cycling mecca (i.e. Sedona, AZ or Fruita, CO) then I may opt to rent.

Case and point: I recently traveled to Sedona, Arizona to spend a week with some friends. Taking my bike was going to cost approximately $300 round trip – give or take. My friends arranged a pretty good deal for our group, and because of our involvement with IMBA and my local IMBA Chapter, MORE, they got me (us) a deal and hooked us up with various high end bikes. I ended up riding a  top of the line 650b Pivot Mach 5 for 5 days for roughly half that cost. This gave me the opportunity to ride a top of the line frame on some kick ass trails. It took me a day to get used to the bike, but once I got it dialed in, it was great – not perfect like my regular bike, but pretty darn good…

Now – even on that trip, on a top of the line frame, I often wished for my bike. There simply is no substitute for riding your steed, the mount you are more accustomed to, in a new destination. There is simply nothing worse (I’ve been there) than riding unfamiliar trails on a less than suitable bike. Not having to worry about the bike while you experience a new ribbon of single track is simply priceless.

With that said, however, you must think of other factors that may affect your decision:

  1. Do you have a Bike Box? If no, then chances are you can get one from various sources. You can rent one from your local bike shop or cycling club. My club, MORE, has two bike boxes on hand that are loaned out to members on a first come first serve basis. If you have a generous friend who would’t mind lending you one you could be set. I do recommend that if you travel often that you invest in a quality case. I’ve used several over the years (burrowed and rented) and when it was time to buy one I went with the standard by which others are measured: Trico. If this is a one time trip then figure out how much it will cost for the box, air travel, etc. and determine if it is indeed worth packing it…
  2. Do you crash a lot? Seriously. If you do, bring your own bike. When you rent a bike you will be asked to sign a waiver. Both to release the renter from any liability should you get hurt, and to take responsibility (i.e. pay for the bike) should something happen to it. Are you willing, or ready to buy that $5,000 carbon frame you rented? If not, then bring your own. Repairs to your bike may ultimately end up costing much less than having to buy that sweet frame you just damaged on the porcupine rim trail…
  3. Is the trip for something else other than biking? If yes, then you may opt to rent. I recently went to Italy on vacation and stayed in the Tuscan hills around Lucca. I would have loved to have my road bike with me – it would have been perfect. But, the trip was not a cycling outing, and even though I could have ridden out the door every day out of the 12 I was there it simply would have not been practical for me to have my bike, or even logistically feasible. I, instead, found a local shop in Lucca and rented a bike for a few days for a reasonable fee.

Now that you have decided, here is a quick primer on how to pack your bike. As with anything else, this is not the only way; This is how I’ve done it the past few times I’ve traveled with no issues…


Baggies and zip ties...

Baggies and zip ties – always handy. grab a few before you start. Remember to bring some extra for the return leg…

Bike on a stand

Put the bike on a stand if you have one, it will help tremendously as you prep it. However, not entirely necessary.

The Box.

Get your box ready – place it somewhere accessible near your work area.

Take the wheels off the bike and let the air out of the tires.

Take the wheels off the bike and let the air out of the tires (not fully). It is not fully necessary to deflate your tires, but some airlines will require it. And, when they ask you if you did, you can say yes knowing you’re telling the truth and nothing but the truth…

The chain

Take the chain off and put it in a baggie. I always pack at least one extra quick link.


Put your QRs in a separate baggie.

Open Case.

Open up the box and get ready to drop the frame in. My case has three layers of foam.

Frame in the box

Put the farm in the box. Notice that the bars have been removed from the stem and tucked next to the frame, The saddle has also been removed and loose parts have been carefully “zip tied” to the frame. The bars have also been “zip tied” in place.


Pedals off and cranks secured to the chain stay with a zip tie.


Rear mech removed from dropout and zip tied to frame. Be careful NOT to crimp your cables. you MUST put a shipping block in the dropout to make sure the frame is not bent. You can get a cycling specific block or go on the cheap like I did with a piece of wood. Do bear in mind that the wood will add weight to the packed bike and airlines will charge you for every ounce.

Saddle in the stays

The saddle zip tied to the seat stays. Notice the shipping block in the brake calipers. This is another must in case your brake levers get accidentally pulled. Depending on what kind of brakes you have you may have to adjust the pressure in the hoses before and after you get it on the plane. Pressure differences can sometimes affect your brakes.

Small Parts

Some small parts zip tied to the frame. I should have put a small piece of tube between the bag and frame to protect it. Thankfully nothing happened on this trip.

Bars on frame

The bars attached to the frame. You can’t clearly see it in this picture, but there is a small piece of foam padding between the bars and the frame to protect each one from the other. Some people will wrap all tubes with pipe insulation, I think it’s overkill.

Brake levers

I keep my old tubes and then use them for scrap, in this case I put a small piece of tube around the brake handles to protect them and the frame from them.


Once the frame is in place I put a piece of foam over it and then place the wheels as shown; Remember, tires have some of the air removed from them to accommodate changing air pressures.

Ready to fly!

Finally I add the last piece of foam, a piece of paper with all of my contact info (locally and abroad) and seal the box. Bike is ready to fly!

The above process took me about half and hour to complete; Once you get the hang of it you can knock it out and be on your way to better things. Below is a short timeless that give you an idea of how the process took place.

Night Riding. Photo Courtesy Jason Ashmore

Don’t be afraid of the dark…

Don't be afraid of the dark! Photo by Pete Beers

Don’t be afraid of the dark! Photo by Pete Beers: petebeers.net

Just becasue it’s cold and dark doesn’t mean you can’t ride…

In an earlier post I gave you a few tips on how to stay warm in the coming cold days of winter. With those cold days, unfortunately (or fortunately), come darkness. But darkness, like cold temperatures, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t (or can’t) ride. There are plenty of lighting systems that will allow you to continue to enjoy your riding, on or off-road.

Below are a few tips I’ve learned over the years about riding at night and selecting the proper lighting system so that you can continue to enjoy cycling deep into the darkest nights.

The Basics

First and foremost I highly recommend that if you are going to ride at night that you ride somewhere you are familiar with. This applies to both road and trail. If you are riding off-road I suggest you stick to trails you know. Don’t go to that 30,000 acre state park you’ve been wanting to hit all summer for the first time at night – you’ll get lost, trust me…

Cold and dark winter riding can be very unforgiving. While it may be ok to ride alone in the warm days of spring and summer when light is plentiful and the temperatures are mild, winter is not the same. Don’t ride alone; this is particularly critical in off-road situations where a mishap in the woods could very well mean the difference between life and death.

So, now that I’ve freaked you out a little let’s move on…

Riding a trail or road you’re familiar with at night is like riding a completely different destination. I love hitting my local singletrack in the dark of night because it provides me with a completely “new” riding experience. Riding at night heightens the senses and it really reveals how much attention you are paying to the trail during the “daylight” hours.

At night you notice things that simply don’t manifest themselves during the day. For starters, critters that hide in the day make their way under the cover of darkness. You’ll experience a completely new world and in the process bring your riding to the next level.

So, how do you make that dark outing successful? For starters you need to make sure you pick the right light for the job. Stay away from anything powered by AA or AAA batteries; those lights WILL NOT provide you enough coverage for what is needed to safely operate a bike in the dark. Begin your search for lights that produce at the very least 500 – 700 lumens.


I’m not exactly sure when the change from “watts” to “lumens” took place in bike light designation, but most bike lights are now defined by their lumen output. Lumens measure the amount of light produced by a bulb. The more lumens, the brighter the light (and generally the higher the cost).

I would suggest you not go below 700 lumens for either road or off-road riding and that you select the highest lumen light available beyond that within your budget.

On the road

Night road cycling is all about visibility. Drivers already have a tendency to not see you in the day, so at night, the risk of getting hit increases exponentially. For road situations you will need at the very least two lights: a forward facing headlight and a rear facing taillight. If you do not have at least these two I suggest staying home.

If you must choose only one forward facing light I would go with a bar mounted system because it will provide a steady forward facing beam “most” of the time. A head mounted light will move with your head so it may not be visible from the front for brief periods of time. On the road, a couple of seconds of non-visibility counts.

Your second light should be a head or seat post mounted tail light. I prefer a flashing “beacon” that alerts drivers of your presence. Again, like the front facing light I would opt for a bike mounted light that remains static and I would choose as bright a light as possible – preferably one that can be seen form far away and for at least 180°.

Additionally, you should wear as much reflective clothing and gear as possible so that you are seen from far away and so that you use other vehicle lights to your advantage. Reflective tape is available and is a great accessory you can add to your bike, helmet and even your clotting.

Ultimately I recommend that you have at least two front facing lights, one on your helmet and one on your bars, and at the very least one flashing red tail light. Augment all of this with as much reflective material as possible.


Being “visible” to others is not as much of an issue when you are riding your local trails at night. When riding off-road seeing what’s coming ahead of you is what it’s all about. On single track trails things come at you really fast, and minor nuances that are clear in the daylight hours can easily send you face first into the ground at night.

Lumens really matter. Unlike the road you will need at the very least one light: a powerful front facing beam. There is lots of discussion and debate in mountain bike cycling circles as to whether a bar or helmet mounted light is best. I recommend you try both and make that decision on your own. The easiest solution to this dilemma is to have both a helmet and bar mounted light. Get a wide beam bar light that gives you a clear view of what is immediately ahead of you and where you are going, and a narrower focused beam on your head that allows you to scan what’s coming, lets you see what’s in the periphery, and helps you anticipate what’s ahead.

Additional tips

Know your run time: Don’t ride longer than your battery lasts – trust me – if you can, bring an extra battery.

Wear glasses: This applies for both on and off-road riding. Most sport glasses come with the option to swap dark shades with clear lenses. I highly recommend you use those clear glasses; Your eyes will thank you.

Think about the future: When selecting a lighting system think about future upgrades. Light & Motion, for example, have stayed true to their battery configuration so you can use their older batteries on newer systems – they may not last as long – but having a back-up in your pocket may very well get you home…

Carry a spare light in your pocket; A cheap portable flashlight is fine, but if you can afford an all-in-one system even better; This light is for “emergencies.” If you ride with only a bar mounted light the spare flashlight can help you change a flat, or fix a mechanical without having to take your light off the bars.

Ride open destinations only. This is mostly for off-road cycling, but in certain instances will apply to on-road spins. Most jurisdictions and local parks are closed form sun-down to sun-rise and poaching trails at night is just as bad for access as riding illegal trails.

What I use

I have a bar mounted Light & Motion Seca 1500 and a helmet mounted gemini Xera (950). I’ve been using L&M for seveal years and have a couple of spare batteries I can use with my Seca. I also own several “flashers” I snap all over my body for on-road outings and a a seat-post mounted taillight that is visible 180°. The Gemini I’ve had for a little under a year, it was on my “X-mas” list last year and it’s become one of my favorites; It’s compact, light and incredibly bright; highly recommended.

What’s out there

Light & Motion Lights – What I’ve been using for years, love these lights – adequately priced.

Gemini Lights – Their Xera model is the perfect compliment to a high powered bar mounted light. My buddy Jason is running a duo on his bars and a Xera on his head – the lights are crisp and throw out a great beam. And they are priced just right.

Exposure Lights – These are compact all-in-one systems that pack some serious light in very small packages. My buddy Pete Beers, who rides tens of thousands of miles, swears by them.

Nite Rider Lights – Nite Rider used to be the standard and continue to make high quality lights.

CandlePower Technology – They claim you can see their torchlight from a 1/4 mile away; At 2100 Lumens it’s one of the brightest.

Serfas Lights – Serfas has been around for a while; I’ve never used their lights, but this is a reputable brand.

Lupine Lighting Systems – This German manufacturer produces some of (if not) the brightest and smallest lights on the market; The Betty puts out over 3600 Lumens; but they come at a price – $1300 for the Betty, that’s almost $3/Lumen.

And lots more – MTBR puts out a great annual bike lights shootout that’s worth reading, if you’re totally unsure what to get it’s a great start…

Winter is Coming…

No, I’m not a Stark – just stating fact. And, with winter, as we all know, comes cold weather…

Cold weather doesn’t mean you have to stop riding, it just means you have to dress a little smarter to combat the elements so that your riding experience is just as enjoyable as it is durning the warm months.

Here are a few tips, learned over the years, that will help you enjoy your bike deep into the winter months and when the mercury hits even below zero.

Bundled up

All bundled up and enjoying some winter cycling…

The Basics

Over the years I’ve found that if I set out on a winter ride and I’m warm or hot before I even start a single pedal stroke, the experience will be a miserable one. As a rule of thumb you want to be a little bit cold before you begin. Once you start pedaling your body will provide the necessary heat to keep you comfortable.

You’ll definitely need to cover the basics; You’ll surely already have a good set of cycling shorts with adequate padding, these will provide the staring point for the rest of your gear and the foundation of your core layer.

Dressing in “layers” is essential for winter cycling. In general your attire will consist of three layers and some other essential accessories:

  1. The Base/Core layer
  2. The Middle Layer
  3. The Shell/Outer Layer
  4. Additional items


The Base Layer

The purpose of the “core” layer, or base layer, is to wick moisture away from your body so that you remain dry and warm throughout the ride. This layer should be snug to your body and consist of a fabric that can move that perspiration away from your skin. Avoid cotton at all costs for this layer since cotton will retain moisture close to your body and ultimately make you colder. High-tech synthetic fibers like polypropylene will serve you well here. Wool (particularly the Merino variety) is a great fabric to consider for your base layer.

For my base layer I generally wear the same cycling unders I use in the summer months, a thin Merino wool or polypro top, and a thin set of calf-high Merino wool socks. I generally stick to my regular full-finger cycling gloves and regular cycling shoes. Not until the weather gets really cold (below 40°) will I start wearing my winter specific cycling gloves or shoes. On cold days when I’m not entirely sure what gloves to wear I’ll pack an extra pair (heavy or lighter than what I set out with) on my jersey pockets.

The Middle Layer

Next you need to focus on your middle layer. This layer will supplement your base/core layer and also provide some moisture wicking capabilities. Your middle layer will provide air circulation above your base layer and for that reason should be somewhat looser than your base layer. This layer, in general, will be the one that varies the most and will be highly dependent on the temperature and the level of activity you engage in. This will undoubtedly be the layer you will experiment with the most. In time you’ll learn exactly what suits you best.

Depending on the temperature I’ll generally wear a regular long sleeve cycling jersey or a short or long sleeve wool jersey or a long sleeve fleece sweatshirt. My favorite top has become a long sleeve Merino wool jersey. Even when damp the jersey retains heat and keeps me warm and comfortable. For my bottoms I’ll either wear a pair of knickers or cycling tights over my padded unders to cover my legs. 

riding in the mid 30s; Head band to cover my ears, knickers with knee-high wool sock, Lake winter shoes, wool long sleeve Jersey over long sleeve polypro base, winter riding gloves and neck warmer; Nice an toasty...

Riding in the mid 30s in November 2012; Head band to cover my ears, knickers with knee-high wool socks, Lake winter shoes, wool long-sleeve jersey over long sleeve polypro base, winter riding gloves and neck warmer; Nice and toasty…

The Shell/Outer Layer

Finally it’s time to address your shell or outer layer. The primary purpose of this “top” layer is to keep the outside elements away from your body. The shell layer will act as a wind breaker and moisture “barrier”. It, however, needs to be breathable so that it allows for the moisture from within to escape.

I generally use a light Gore-Tex jacket with adjustable vents in the armpit area that keeps both wind and water away from my body but also let’s perspiration escape. When the weather gets really cold (30° and below) I’ll add a pair of Gore-Tex pant shells and replace the light jacket with a heavier jacket with a lined inner – effectively doubling up my middle layer.

Additional Items

In addition to the above I highly suggest you invest in a high quality pair of cycling shoes and gloves and some “head” gear.

I have made a considerable investment in shoes and gloves. Personally, if my digits are cold, no amount of warmth in my core body will keep me riding. I set out on an early morning ride last week and completely underestimated how cold it was; my fingers were numb within 3 miles and I was forced to turn around and finish earlier than I expected. By the time I made it back to the starting point my fingers were frozen and all desire to keep riding was gone.

For mild temperatures I use a set of Gore-Tex shoe covers and mild winter gloves. But once the temperatures drops below 40° I wear my winter specific Lake shoes and Pearl Izumi winter gloves. Gloves are critical, find a pair of specifically designed cycling winter gloves that fit your hands – nothing too tight. These gloves are built specifically to provide you with the adequate movement and flexibility you need to manage and use your bike’s cockpit controls.

Other accessories I have in my winter cycling drawer are smartwool arm warmers and smartwool leg warmers, neck liners, a winter head band, and a full head hoodie that protects my face, ears and skull on really cold days.

Update 11/18/13

An interesting discussion emerged on Facebook’s Patapsco Mountain Bikers group related to this very topic and much of what I covered above has been brought up. To help, here is a more detailed breakdown of the items that are in my wardrobe and that I recommend for those really cold winter days…

Head and neck

I generally wear a Halo Band for as long as the temperatures permit just to keep sweat off my eyes. But once the temperature hits below the mid 40s I’ll swap it for a Halo skull cap that covers my ears and provides a little warmth and protection from the wind. When the temps go below the mid 30s I’ll use a Gordini Baclava full head cover that protects my head and neck and covers my ears, nose, and mouth.

Even when it is “relatively” warm (45° – 59°) I wear a thin wool neck wrap (actually a Smartwool head band) around my neck. When the temperature starts dipping really low I’ll swap that with a thicker, larger, and warmer neck gaiter; The neck gaiter and some good ear covers will serve much the same purpose as the full face Baclava, which I reserve for really cold days.


I’ll pretty much wear only two layers until it gets really cold – below the mid 40s; If I’m on the road I’ll add a third (top layer) “wind breaker.” My base layer is always a long sleeve polypro undershirt (I’ve had the same REI shirt for over 6 years – really) or an Underarmour base layer shirt (there are factory stores in Potomac Mills and Leesburg that have great deals; if you are veteran – thank you btw – they’ll even discount things more). Above that I always wear a long sleeve wool jersey; these aren’t cheap, but with proper care (delicate wash and hang dry) they’ll last you for years. As the temperatures go down I’ll add a thin windbreaker or a lined windbreaker depending on how cold it gets.


My arms are generally covered by what I define in the torso section above. But if the temperatures are mild/cold when I start and I know they’ll warm up as the ride progresses I’ll generally wear a short sleeve base layer (underarmour) and a short sleeve wool jersey. In addition I’ll wear either my Pearl Izumi arm warmers or Smartwool arm warmers. The Pearl Izumi arm warmers I own are better for road riding because they have some “wind-breaking” capabilities. The Smartwool arm warmers are better suited for Off-road cycling where “wind-breaking” is not as relevant (at least not when you are in the woods.)


My hands have to be warm. period. So this is one of the places I put the most emphasis in. I own three different sets of winter gloves. My first go-to set are my Sugoi Toaster Gloves. Unfortunately Sugoi no longer makes this model but they have some comparable new ones; These are great gloves, but once the temperature drop down to the 30s they don’t cut it. From there I move on to my Pearl Izumi Elite gloves. These are a little heavier/bulkier than my Sugoi gloves and keep my hands warm even in the coldest days and still provide some flexibility and mobility. When it gets really cold I go with my Pearl Izumi “lobster” style gloves. The biggest issue I have as I move to the colder weather gloves is that they get bulkier and you begin to lose some “dexterity.”  I’ve never tried pogies (bar mitts), but I’m considering them since they will allow me to bulk down my gloves so. Fat-Bike.com has a comprehensive list of pogies to “keep your digits warm.


When Mountain biking I hardly wear tights unless it gets really cold – below mid 30s. I always wear long (skiing) Smartwool socks with a pair of Endura 3/4 single track pants. Once the temps go below the mid 30s I’ll add a pair of thermal Pearl Izumi tights; Coupled with the long socks they keep me super warm. After the temps really start dipping I’ll add the Enduro 3/4 pants to the mix for some “wind braking.” Endura makes full length pants I’m hoping to get my hands on in the future.

For road biking I throw a pair of light weight tights above those long socks. Only after the temps go down below 40 will I wear the thermal tights. Beyond that I honestly don’t ride out on the road much.

Like my arms, I also will sometimes head out with either a pair of Pearl Izumi knee warmers, or a pair of Smartwool leg warmers. Again – I use the Izumi knee warmers on the road for their wind breaking capabilities and the wool ones when mountain biking. As the temps rise these are easy to shed.


Like my hands, my feet HAVE to be warm. I have invested in a high quality pair of winter cycling Lake boots. If you care for them properly they should last you for many seasons. 45 North also makes several high quality boots. I use my Lake shoes both on and off-road. I stick with the long thin Smartwool skiing socks and always carry toe warmers with me in case my feet start getting too cold. I seldom, if ever, double up on socks because they will just make your shoes tighter and restrict circulation, making them get colder quicker.


Many have mentioned (in the Facebook Patapsco Group) that you don’t need cycling specific apparel to stay warm; That’s true; You can find lots of gear out at Target, K-Mart, Walmart, and other box retailers that will help keep you warm. Ultimately you want to outfit yourself with gear meant for and designed for the task at hand. Quality gear is an investment, and once you do get it you should treat it as such. Care for it like the manufacturer recommends and it will stay with you for season after season. I’ve been riding for over 20 years and in all honesty a lot of my gear has seen more than 5 seasons.

Cycling gear is so expensive that when I actually go out and get a quality piece of cycling clothing I make sure to care for it as best as possible so that I can enjoy it over the years. My wool jerseys are nearly 5 years old and still have plenty of life in them. My tights have been with me for nearly 8 years – I just recently, last season, purchased my thermal pair.

I also try to purchase my gear during the off-season and recommend you do the same. You’ll notice I link to REI a lot; I’m a member and often get some cash back at the end of the year (to shed on more cycling gear). Plus, they have great outlet sales for members only a couple of times a year. I’ve also found a few products (brands) that I remain loyal to because they work; Smartwool and Pearl Izumi are two of them.

I hope that this overview helps you outfit yourself with the necessary gear to ride all year long.

Dang it's cold!

Too stupid to go outside? nope – just well dressed; The temperatures read 8° on this ride with my buddy Tom Jackson back in January 17, 2009.

Update 11/26/13

My buddy Pete Beers has written a great post about staying warm AND dry on the bike; You can find, “Baby it’s cold outside… and wet” on his blog, I Love My Commute. You’ll notice a “pattern” between what I wrote here and the gear he itemizes in his post; One of the items I failed to mention in my post (and which I honestly don’t own – but will soon get) is a pair of Outdoor Research Gaiters. These will help keep any moisture out of your boots, keeping your feet warm and dry.

Danger Panda! Riding for World Bicycle Relief

As I explain in the acknowledgement section of the book I could not have completed it without the help of many people. Throughout the book I have placed a “you may run into” sidebar highlighting an individual who has not only made a contribution to my cycling experience, but who has also impacted the community around them in one way or another through their involvement in the sport.

One such person is my buddy Pete Beers; Pete is a local legend in the Arlington and Falls Church areas; He rides his bike virtually everywhere; to work, to the store, to group rides. He’s out to prove that you can leave your car at home and is a devoted advocate for cycling in the region.

His joy for cycling – and the amount of riding he puts in on a daily basis – has prompted Pete to venture into territory very few cyclists experience: endurance racing. This week (Saturday June 1st to be precise) Pete will be competing in the Dirty Kanza 200 (DK200) in support of World Bicycle Relief, a nonprofit organization that aims to transform individuals and communities through the power of bicycles. The DK200 is a solo, self-supported, non-stop, 200-mile-long bicycling endurance challenge on the gravel and dirt roads of the Flint Hills region in east-central Kansas.

The DK200 is the mother of all Gravel Grinders. What’s most interesting about the DK200 is that riders don’t quite know where they are headed until they reach designated check-points. At each of these the rider is handed a map and the location of the next checkpoint. It is up to the rider to then navigate to the subsequent checkpoints to receive further instructions until they finally complete the loop and the 200 mile distance.

As part of his participating in the event Pete has received a set of “rider trading cards,” seen here:

DK200 Trading Card

The image Pete chose to grace his is quite unique, and tied to Best Bike Rides DC for a couple of reasons. The first, yours truly is photo bombing Pete’s trademark “Danger Panda” maneuver. Pete never rides without his camera and often yanks it out mid-ride, while rolling, to take a series of self portraits. See slideshow above…

The second, is because the image was taken during a scouting ride for one of the rides in the book; Sadly the ride we headed out to map that day didn’t make it. Still, joy was had in copious amounts and that ride remains as one of my favorites.

I’m flattered that I am also on the “Pete Beers DK200 trading card,” and that in a tiny way, am part of his experience and efforts to support World Bicycle Relief.

So, please join me in wishing Pete, the rest of his team, and the other competitors of the DK200 the best of luck and a safe 200 miles.

If you do get a chance, please stop by his team’s page and make a small donation in support of their effort.

Best Bike Rides DC

It’s here!

I received the advance copies of the book today, it looks great! And the writing and photos are superb 😉

Seriously, I’m very excited, and today is the birthday of “best Rides D.C.” The book is now available for pre-order from several retailers, including Amazon.com. Please order yours now and enjoy the rides!

Best Bike Rides DC

You can purchase a signed copy of Best Rides DC directly from this site or online at any of the following locations:


Holmes Run

Went for a spin on Holmes Run and Dora Kelly Park, a couple of trails that are featured in the book. The ride was after a hard rain so the crossings were pretty deep. We finished the ride with a round of Putt Putt Golf at Cameron Run Regional Park…


A collection of snapshots I captured during the time I was working on the book; These and many more pictures will grace the pages of Best Rides D.C.

Cars and Bikes

Peace at Hand?

I recently posted a status update on Facebook that read something like this:

“It’s mind blowing the hatred there is out there for cyclists; Are we really that much of threat to drivers that they have to go out of their way to say: “So for me, the more bicyclists get hit the better it is for me…”? seriously? the worst part is the majority of people publicly agree with the statement quoted above…”

Today I came across an article in The Atlantic from January 24: Can We Finally Declare Peace in the ‘War on Cars’? That stipulates that my view above is misconstrued and that in fact there is far more support and acceptance for bikes on the road than we are led to believe. That the “hot rhetoric” against cyclists isn’t anywhere near as bad as we are led to believe.

Give a read and let me know what you think…

MTB DC/MD Thumbnail

20 years of Mountain Biking the Washington D.C./Baltimore Area

the fourth edition of the MTB DC/MD Guide

The fourth edition of the MTB DC/MD Guide

It’s hard to believe that we’re coming up on the 20th anniversary of my first book, Mountain Biking the Washington, D.C./Baltimore Area, now in it’s fourth edition. To commemorate its anniversary I have begun talks with my publisher, Falcon Guides, to give it a much needed update.

Shortly after arriving back in D.C. in 1991 after a mandatory “Army” absence I became heavily involved with a small group of dedicated people looking for more Mountain Biking opportunities in the region and formed the Mid Atlantic Off-Road Enthusiasts (MORE). Truth be told, I was one of the very first few members recruited by the actual founders of the club.

By the time I actually joined MORE the club may have had no more than 20 or so members, yours included. That tight group rode often and worked hard to convince local area land managers and other user groups that Mountain Biking was a legitimate form of recreation and that we too could be stewards of the land and care for it just as well, if not better, than our peer user groups.

It was definitely an uphill battle. We were often viewed as reckless “dew drinking” irresponsible users bent on destroying trails and terrorizing other users. Thankfully that view has changed over the years and our sport has become much more accepted around the country and the world.

By 1994 I was serving as Vice President of MORE and in that capacity I was contacted by Scott Adams, author of Mountain Bike Madness in Central Pennsylvania and the first edition of Mountain Bike Washington D.C.

The success of Scott’s PA and D.C. books prompted him to start his own publishing company, “Outside America.” His goal was to help other regional authors publish local cycling guides around the country using his model, Scott himself began work on a Virginia edition of his guides. The management of the business, and the time devoted to putting the Virginia guide book together, took away from the time which he could devote to updating the D.C. book, so, he approached MORE to see if the club was interested in helping him take over that effort.

The issue was brought up and voted on during a MORE  Board meeting but was rejected. At the time the MORE Board felt it unwise to align the club with a commercial entity, even though it would bring some needed revenue to the club. Instead, the Board wanted to focus on increasing membership and continuing to expand riding opportunities in the region.

The rejection by the Board prompted me to request “permission” to personally pursue the project and, with their blessing and me stepping down as Vice President, I began a partnership with Scott to work on a major revision to the guide. That revision doubled the number of rides detailed in the book and made me a co-author.

Since then, the book has seen two additional updates, the latest of which came about in 2003.

Now, with the 20th anniversary of it’s publication looming, and with the completion of Best Rides D.C., I’m getting ready to embark on a complete update of the book. If all goes as planned, the 5th/20th anniversary edition of  Mountain Biking the Washington, D.C./Baltimore Area will be on book shelves across the region by the fall of 2014 or early spring 2015.

Stay tuned as more details arise in the coming weeks.