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.

The Fredericksburg Quarry

This is one of those trails that I really wanted to include in the 5th Edition of Mountain Biking The Washington D.C./Baltimore Area but, unfortunately, I was unable to do so. The trails at the Fredericksburg Quarry have been around for a while and they traverse a myriad of private and public properties in the area; Obtaining written permission for those properties proved to be somewhat prohibitive so I opted instead to add it as an honorable mention.

At the time I documented the ride there was also considerable construction going on near the most popular entrance point to the trail along Fair Hill Avenue, but by the time you get out there it will undoubtedly be completed and access to this phenomenal system of trails will be easier. The RideWithGPS route I have embedded below is the one I had planned to detail for the 5th Edition of Mountain Biking The Washington D.C./Baltimore Area and will serve as a great way for you to virtually explore all of the trails in this Fredericksburg destination.

The Fredericksburg Area Mountain Bike Enthusiasts (FAMBE) have a very detailed map of the Quarry trails that you can also download and use as reference.

If you have kids with you, you can ride the Scout Trail to the USGS Trail to the Beach trail and see very little elevation change. That alone would be a great out and back ride with great views of the Rappahanock River.

As you reach the end of the Beach Trail by the fire pit, where it turns left away from the river, the trail’s elevation will increase dramatically and become more challenging. The Owl loop Trail is fun, but the initial climb will keep you honest. You can by-pass the Owl Loop and climb to the entrance of the Rigeline Trail, by far the best section (in my opinion) in the system. If you are pressed for time you can do a quick loop by following the Scout to the USGS trail, up to the Ridgeline trial and then back down by the quarry along the Pool Pass Trail to the intersection of the Scout and USGS trail.

If you have more time I urge you to explore the Epiphany trail (accessible from the Ridgeline trail via the Pool Pas Trail) and then ride under I-95 through the Oboy Tunnel – that alone is an experience – to the East side trails where you can spend a considerable amount of time riding the trails along that side of I-95. There you will experience a lot of elevation changes, but the twisty and tight nature of those trails will bring a huge grin to your face.

If you live anywhere near Fredericksburg I urge you to contact and join FAMBE or FATMUG. FAMBE, along with the Fredericksburg Area Trail Management & User Group (FATMUG) have been working hard to increase the number of trails in the region, extending the already vast number of riding opportunities for us to enjoy even further.

An Epic Day

The long anticipated day arrived this past weekend and over 600 riders converged in Maryland’s Soccerplex, in Germantown, to head out into one of several Epic Mountain Bike Rides around the single track trails of Montgomery County.

Despite a little bit of a scare with the impending weather, the rides went off without a hitch. The trails were in absolutely great shape, and other than one “wet spot” at Little Bennett Regional park it was an amazing day of riding.

This year I opted for the 50 mile northern loop and hooked up with the guys and galls of Team XXL and The Bike Lane for a brisk ride thourgh the woods.

It took us a little over 7 hours to complete the ride, which was an absolute blast. Aid stations along the way provided hydration and nutrition so that we could stayed fueled and keep going.

The trails we rode in this loop will be documented in the upcoming edition of Mountain Biking the Washington D.C./Baltimore Areas and include the Hoyles Mill Connector, Black Hill Regional Park, Little Bennett Regional Park, The Seneca Greenway, Seneca Creek State Park (Clopper Lake), The Seneca Ridge Trial, and Schaffer Farms.

Below is the “track” from our ride.

I highly recommend you sign up for one of the upcoming Epics in 2015 – The NOVA Epic, The Patapsco Epic, or the MoCo Epic. All three rides are phenomenal and showcase all of the great off-road riding we have in this region.

Check out some great picks from our friends at No Film Photography from Yesterday’s MoCo Epic.

Frederick Road Ride with MORE friends

This past weekend was the Mid Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts’ (MORE) winter party. Generally, when MORE gather for such an ocassion the event is preceded with an off-road ride on a nearby trail. But, since this year’s winter has given us so much snow and the local trails needed a bit of a rest, 13 MORE members (including yours truly) headed out to do one of the rides in Best Bike Rides Washington DC, The Covered Bridges of Frederick.

The ride meanders through the rolling roads of Frederick County, MD and highlights three of Maryland’s eight remaining covered bridges. In the book I highlight the history of the area and provide detailed directions you can follow. Here a re a few snaps from that day. Great fun on the roads.

On my way…

Today marked an important milestone; The rewrite of Mountain Bike Washington DC/Baltimore has begun.

Several good friends and I headed out to revisit one of the original Gravel Grinders included in the first edition of the book: The Waterford Dirt Ride. The ride will pretty much be the same as what is included in the fourth edition of the book, but thanks to the help of a couple of veteran gravel connoisseurs I’m going to make a few minor adjustments.

Over the course of the next few months I will be literally re-writing “the book” on mountain biking the DC and Baltimore Metro areas. Stay tuned…

Cycling and Shooting (pics)

Back when I was in the Army I landed a coveted spot at the 55th Signal Company, Combat Camera (COMCAM). Until then photography was just a “bleep” in my creative background. I owned an SLR but used it sparingly to shoot family snapshots. It really wasn’t until then that I began to really appreciate photography and the lengths that photojournalists go through to get a shot just right.

Now, when I glance at the images in BIKE Magazine’s photo annual, or any other photo publication, I have a greater appreciation for not only the final product, but for the effort that was made to capture that image. Photography is now a big part of my life; my work has been published in various websites and print publications around the world, and I regularly shoot and cover  events for the Department of Defense Education Activity. You can see some of my work on my personal blog, frescova.com.

Today, with the advent of digital photography, and the advancement of sensor technology, it is becoming much easier for just about everyone to get high quality imagery with very affordable gear, including your iPhone, a point and shoot camera, or a Digital SLR (DSLR). Bellow are some tips I’ve learned over the years which have helped me get the best results when I go out to  ride and shoot pictures on the trail or road, regardless of camera.

Shooting with any Camera

Chase Jarvis, a well known and respected commercial photographer, put it best a couple of years ago when he coined the phrase “The Best Camera Is The One That’s With You.” Ultimately, if you don’t have a camera with you, you are simply not going to capture anything. No matter what camera you’ve bring along for the ride you’ll always want to make sure you follow these tips.

  1. Think about composition – If you nail one thing down in your photos (other than exposure) it has to be composition: where your subjects (elements) appear on the image. Before shooting envision how you want that image to look; Work on filling the entire frame with your shot and practice the “rule of thirds” and learn how it relates to the “golden ratio.” Once you understand these two concepts you’ll start deconstructing others’ images and began to understand why composition is so critical in making your images work. Also pay attention to your backgrounds – there’s nothing worse than getting a great action shot only to see a telephone pole or tree sticking out behind the riders head.
  2. Learn to work with available light – Always pay attention to how much light there is available and where that light is coming from. Shooting directly into the sun may get you some cool glare, or silhouette effects, but more often than not it will ruin your images. Asses where you are and determine how to best utilize that big bulb in the sky to light your scenes.
  3. Learn to combine items 1 and 2 – Once you’ve mastered the art of composition, and learned to utilize available light you’ll be well on your way to making great pictures, instead of just shooting snapshots.
  4. Know your equipment – I’m incredibly anal about reading the manuals that come with all of the electronics I buy. Once you understand how your equipment works, and what the knobs do, you can then focus on the creative aspect of picture taking. Obviously, if you are using your iPhone or similar camera phone the complexity of what you can do with the camera is greatly diminished. But, as you step up to some of the more versatile point and shoot cameras and the full featured DSLR cameras you’ll definitely want to know what your equipment can do for you. Ultimately, you must understand that it’s the photographer that makes the difference, and not the camera. Yes, that new Nikon D4 that retails for nearly $6k will make a difference, but if your composition is crap, no high dollar camera will help you in any way.

 

Shooting with your phone

The biggest advantage to shooting with your phone is that it’s there, in your pocket, always with you. And, you can share your images instantly. The latest version of the iPhone provides a great “burst” feature that allows you to shoot several frames in rapid succession, allowing more opportunity to “get the shot”. You can also shoot HD video – in slow motion – and edit it on the phone right after you capture it.

What the iPhone or other phone cameras lack, however, is the ability to manually control your settings so you’re somewhat limited to what you can do with it. Still, the iPhone remains quite possibly the most popular digital camera out there right now, and the myriad of apps that allow you to stylize and share your photos make it even more enticing.

I personally shoot with my iPhone the most, and have set-up a Best Rides DC Instagram feed where I share some of the choice images I’ve snapped with it – along with others that have been processed through the phone’s app to share them in Social Media.

This is one of my favorite "Danger Panda (Selfie)" shots by my buddy Pete Beers; We were booking down the road when Pete pulled his S100 out and fired a burst of images; That's me photo bombing him in the background.

This is one of my favorite “Danger Panda (Selfie)” shots by my buddy Pete Beers; We were booking down the road when Pete pulled his S100 out and fired a burst of images; That’s me photo bombing him in the background.

Shooting with a Point and Shoot

Point and Shoot cameras have come a long way over the past few years. There are several models out on the market that rival full featured DSLRs and that produce some high quality photos, I carry a Canon S100 with me most of the time and come away with some nice images from it.

Unlike your phone, point and shoot cameras are a little bulkier and not quite as easy to carry; A quality point and shoot can be easily strapped to your hydration bak shoulder strap or even your bike for quick access, even (not recommended) while riding. My buddy Pete (left) has made capturing “selflies” (or Danger Pandas as he so lovingly calls them) an absolute art and some of the images he’s captured are astonishing.

Shooting with a DSLR

If you can deal with the weight, carry a DSLR with you; There are plenty of great “adventure” packs out there that will allow you to carry your camera and accessories safely, including several with built in hydration systems. I’ve included links to a couple below along with some other “accessories.”

Whenever I set out to document a ride for one of my books I take a long my DSLR with a prime lens and a variable focal length lens; I’ll also carry a lightweight tripod (my favorite is the Joby Gorillapod) and a flash. In some instances I will also carry a set of remote trigger mechanism – especially if I’m riding alone and need to set up self portraits; The slideshow above has a couple of samples of such instances.

The DSLR will offer you the most flexibility and likely the best results; If you do own a DSLR my recommendation is to learn how to master its controls and how to shoot in manual mode. Learn to understand the relationship between Aperture, shutter speed and ISO so that you learn how they affect exposure and depth of field.

Finally, shoot, shoot, and shoot again – digital film is cheap, regardless of what you shoot with…

What I use

I shoot mostly with my iPhone because I love to share my images on social media, specifically in the Best Rides DC Facebook page and on the Best Rides DC Instagram feed and because it fits in my pocket. I generally put it in a small dry sack to protect it from moisture (I learned that from my buddy Scott Scudamore). My favorite iPhone apps are Instagram, ShakeItPhoto and Cam Timer, a simple app that allows you to delay the shutter. I’m still looking for a remote trigger for my iPhone, if you have one to recommend please let me know.

I sometimes also take my Canon point and shoot camera along for the ride. I chose the Canon S100 because it’s compact and because it has a manual mode, which allows me to control aperture and shutter speed. I pack the camera in a compact Lowepro pouch that has a velcro strap that allows me to attach it to my Osprey Pack, A belt loop, or even my handlebars or stem for quick access while I’m riding.

Whether I take my iPhone or S100 with me I also carry a small Joby tripod with magnetic feet and a tripod attachment for my iPhone. This allows me to set either the iPhone or S100 up for hands free shooting and self portraits. The one thing I regret my S100 not having is a remote trigger, other than that it’s a great little shooter.

When I take my DSLR with me I pack it in my Deuter Trans Alpine 25 Hydration pack. This pack has a large bottom compartment where I have placed a “padded cube” that fits my Nikon D2X with a 50mm lens attached to it. In the main compartment I usually throw an extra battery, my Joby Gorillapod, a flash in a padded case and a couple of other misc. accessories, including a couple of Pocketwizards and misc. cables. I don’t generally ride with this set-up because it is heavy, and although the pack is comfortable the weight is noticeable and becomes cumbersome after a while. I’m hoping to get my hands on a MindShift rotation 180 pack, but at nearly $400 it’ll have to wait. I also recently received a CapturePRO from Peak Design that I’ve yet to try on a ride. At first glance it looks promising and I can’t wait to use it.

Hopefully the tips above make your riding a shooting a little more enjoyable; If you have anything to offer please post it in the comments section below, and see you on the trails – or the road…

Little Bellas

Those of you who know me and have been visiting the site for a while know that I try to spend as much time riding with my 8 year-old daughter. Ari’s getting better by the day, but there is only so much I can do for her when we are out on the trail and I think it is critical that she ride with other kids (girls) her age to see that some of the stuff she’s hesitant to ride can be done and is ridden by kids just like her.

I searched far and wide for a program near the DC area where I could take her this summer but my attempts fell short. There is a great weekly ride in one of our local trails (Wakefield Park,) but my work schedule often prohibits me from getting there by the time the ride rolls out. The closest summer camp I did find was the Charlottesville Bike Camp in Charlottesville, Virginia, but she fell short of the age requirement (12 years old) and was likely not physically or technically ready for spending so much time (a full week) away form us alone.

The next best thing that popped up in my searches was the Little Bellas Camp at the Catamount Family Center in Williston, VT, just outside Burlington.

The prospect of getting in the car for nearly 10 hours wasn’t that enticing, but I really wanted my daughter to enjoy some quality riding and be exposed to other kids her age having fun on bikes. After researching the program and realizing it was founded and developed by pro cyclist Lea Davison and her sister Sabra I decided to pull the trigger and signed her up for the two day camp that coincided with the 3rd stop of the ProXCT Finals Mountain bike races. If anything, we would at least experience and witness first-hand some of the best mountain bike riders in the country competing for the national title.

The trip turned out to be quite the adventure for my daughter and her friend Marie. She was super excited to spend the night in a few hotels and swim in the indoor pools; We did not know what to really expect from the camp, other than she would be one of a group of about a dozen girls on bikes.

The Little Bellas Camp is more than just about riding, their focus is not to churn out little racers; instead, the program is aimed at showing girls 7-14 the importance of living a healthy lifestyle, goal-setting, and building teamwork. All of it using mountain biking as the “fun” vehicle to build strong bonds with each other. Their hope is to ensure that the girls remain with the sport beyond their teenage years.

Once we arrived it was clearly evident that the experience would be a positive one – you just got a good vibe from the group of women who would be the girls’ mentors for the next two days. They immediately welcomed the girls and set them up with a few gifts, including a very nice Jersey to wear during the time at the center. I really can’t speak specifically to the activities they did during the day, but all I know is that by the time I picked my daughter up in the afternoon she couldn’t wait to come back the next day. She quickly proclaimed that “NOW, I really love mountain biking daddy!” and that she wanted to ride in the next morning’s Kid Race.

She raved about meeting Specialized Pro rider Lea Davison (founder of Little Bellas with her sister Sabra) and Canadian Olympian and World Champion cyclist Catharine Pendrel. She went on an on about how exciting the day had been. Seeing her riding the teeter (below) and the pump track by the parking area was also an indication of how far she progressed in one day; I’m certain that had we tried the teeter before the program, she would most certainly not have attempted it…

ari-teeter

The next day we woke early so that she could ride in the kids race and see part of the junior races. By noon, after a quick lunch, we dropped the girls off again for the second day of camp, which included a few more activities and cheering on the women pro riders as they finished the day’s racing and culminated with the entire group of Little Bellas participating in the awards ceremony. Making the girls part of such a “big” event certainly left its mark and Ari is already excited about the prospect of coming back next year for another go at the camp.

I can’t give these group of women enough accolades. In just two days my daughter’s confidence on the bike has soared. She has a long way to go, but the exposure to the pro athletes, the other Little Bellas, and the positive influence of women role models has done far more than I could have in months. Seeing her smile at the end of a full day of biking, and being proud of winning the “most muddy” award made the nearly ten hour drive up to Vermont, and then back to VA totally worth it.

We’ll be back; see you in 2014 Bellas…

More on the Little Bellas

Chaos with purpose for Little Bellas

Bryce: Lift Assisted – Road Complimented

D.C. Area cyclists are lucky to have a new and challenging venue where to test and hone their downhill mountain biking skills. Bryce Resort in Basye, VA (just over 100 miles from Northern Virginia) recently opened and is continuing to expand a network of lift-assisted mountain bike trails that offer runs for both beginner and expert riders.

I had the opportunity to head out to the resort this past Wednesday and spent the morning riding with General Manager Rob Schwartz and the afternoon with Derek Clifton, one of the resort’s mountain bike instructors.

My Intent was just to go down to Bryce to check out the new MTB trails, but after a few email exchanges with Rob we decided to do a road loop before hitting the slopes. So, early Wednesday morning I put the road and mountain bike on the roof rack and headed out to the resort for a day of riding.

The road loop (below) did not disappoint. We had planned on doing just under 30 miles but my road bike was in need of some love. An early flat (read: destroyed rear tire) forced us to cut the ride down to a manageable 16 miles. Our near-noon start did not help either, the temperatures were pretty high, so it was probably best to keep the spin short. Our ride followed some rural back roads with spectacular views of the Shenandoah. Short spirited climbs were rewarded by twisty technical descents with minimal traffic. I think I counted four cars and one motorcycle during our entire outing. I was somewhat embarrassed that my bike was not ready and a little saddened we did not extend the ride, but definitely relieved we only did 16 miles in the blistering heat.

Upon return to the resort I left my road bike with Jeff Bartley, one of Bryce’s mechanics; Jeff gave my steel Hampsten a great look-over and made sure it was in perfect condition for the next road outing, which I hope is a longer loop near Bryce. His attention to detail was welcomed, and clearly visible in the pristine condition the rental stable is in. Rob mention that it is Bryce’s goal to provide a complete riding experience, and having immaculate bikes for renters to enjoy is the first step in that direction. “I want a rider to come and get top notch equipment so that they can have the full experience,” he added, “I’ve often seen places that have great trails but their bikes are in horrible condition and give renters no confidence.” I did not use one of their bikes, but would have gladly taken one out on the trails. Along with the rentals, Bryce also provides full armor, if a rider wants it, so that they can feel safe on the slopes.

The resort has partnered with Trek and offers a sleek fleet of high end dual suspension bikes for rent (Trek Session 8’s and Slash 8’s). Bryce is not a bike dealer, but they do have a comprehensive repair program and the small retail shop offers accessories and equipment for sale and rent, including GoPro cameras for guests to record their experiences.

Rob had to leave me behind (he had to work after all), and left me in the hands of Derek Clifton, one of the resort’s bike Instructors. The former Marine was a consummate professional. He was respectful and certainly knew his craft. As we rode the chairlift up the mountain Derek talked about the different trails, their features, and nuances. He talked about how he coaches and helps new riders master some of the skills and confidence necessary to ride a bike down the resort trails and provided me with some key advice on how to maximize my experience on the downhill runs. I am not an expert downhiller and have always been shy and apprehensive about launching off any types of jumps, but by my 7th run down the mountain I had enough confidence to clear several of the small table tops in the intermediate trails – I seriously can’t wait to get back to keep trying…

I made it a point to ride all of the trails that Bryce offers, from the beginner “Sundowner” to the double black diamond “Copperhead.

Bryce MTB Trail Map

Sundowner is perfect for beginners to get acquainted with downhill riding in general. The trail descends for nearly two miles and makes ample use of all the terrain on the mountain. Sundowner can be fast, but lacks the obstacles and technical features that more intermediate riders crave. I did enjoy the run and can’t wait to take my 8 year old daughter down its slopes – she’ll appreciate the fact that there is no “uphill pedaling.” Sundowner does have one great feature towards the end, a wall ride that can be easily bypassed or swooped high for a quick rush.

Next we rode “Brew Thru.” This was by far my favorite run. The first part of this intermediate trail parallels Sundowner but offers riders a set of small table tops that will give them a feel for what is to come, this is a flow trail with several jump features. It’s important to note that all of the features on this trail can be “rolled,” so if you are apprehensive about jumps you can easily roll them, and as your confidence increases, you can test your skills further. Brew Thru is shorter than Sundowner but packs lots of fun in the run, including several small drops and two wooden features that are a joy to ride.

The third run took us down “Screwdriver.” Screwdriver is the second intermediate trail on the mountain. Unlike Brew Thru, Screwdriver is far more technical. As its name aptly implies, Screwdriver consists of a series of top side switchbacks and fast berms. The mid portion of this run utilizes a section of Sundowner before delivering you to Lower Screwdriver, another technical portion of tight switchbacks.

We then proceeded to run the black diamond “Car Bomb.” This trail was little more intense than screwdriver and included a wood bridge with a mid size drop-off. I rode the entire trail with the exception of that feature; I’ll save it for another day; I’m sure that if I had spent some more time on the mountain I would have mustered the courage to attempt it – and I’m sure I will in the future – today was just not the day. Still, the run was fun and challenging, and seeing Derek clean the bridge drop-off inspired some confidence for the future.

We finally rode “Copperhead,” the resort’s double black diamond run. The trail starts with a 20 yard rock garden – you just have to plow through this section and let the suspension on your bike do the work. After clearing the rocks you are treated to some tight off-camber single track that reminded me of some of the exposed runs I did in Peru. This trail is challenging; it has several steep drops that will test your technical riding skills. For advanced riders this section is a treat. After a series of drops and steep left hand turn you’ll hit the first wood bridge. The bridge has an easy drop off that smoothly rolls to the trail below, shortly after you hit the second bridge – this one, however, has a much steeper transition, which if not ready, can cost you dearly. Finally, Copperhead ends with a creek gap jump and a long table top before delivering you to the base of the mountain. While I was there, crews were working hard to finish a new advanced feature that will mark the end of the double diamond run. By the looks of it  it will be challenging, but surely please the expert set of riders that hit the resort trails.

After this, Derek and I parted ways and I continued doing a few more runs down the mountain. I hit Brew Thru several times and sampled the short “Snakebite” trail, the third and final intermediate offering. Snakebite is simply an alternate trail that runs parallel to Brew Thru that offers a much more technical line down the mountain, including a nice long set of “skinnies.”

What’s cool about Bryce is that all of the trails merge at one point or another, so you can easily craft a path that builds on the best sections of each trail. Copperhead is the only one trail that once you commit you have to ride all the way down.

All in all I had an absolute blast during the time I spent at the resort and can’t wait to get back again. Next time I’m bringing a few of my friends to share in the experience. I’m also looking forward to trying some of the other activities offered by the resort, including their zipline adventure course and possibly renting a Mountain Board. I’m definitely bringing my daughter on one of these outings so that we can run down Sundowner together – I think it will help her hone her skills and become a better rider overall.

Finally, Bryce is not just a downhill mountain bike destination. If you enjoy all cycling disciplines you’ll find that the road riding from the resort is phenomenal; feel free to sample the loop I did above, and if you ask, I’m sure the staff can help you piece together another route, including some challenging gravel roads. I’ve yet to sample the cross country trails near the resort, but Rob assures me that there are some great routes within a short distance from the slopes.

Here’s a quick montage of the rides I did that day, hope they give you a sense for the trails I describe above;

UPDATE 8/7/13

Headed back up to Bryce this past Wednesday, this time with my 8 year-old daughter. We spent nearly 6 hours going up and down the slopes. Rode mostly Sundowner, but added a couple of short sections of Brew Thru for good measure. She had an absolute blast and is already asking when we can go back. Unfortunately she did not meet the weight requirement for the zip line just yet, next year for sure. Below is a snap of her enjoying one of the turns on Sundowner.

 

Ari on Sundowner

UPDATE 10/13/13

Headed back up to Bryce on the weekend of 9/22 with my best friend Scott Scudamore, his granddaughter, his son-in-law, and my daughter for a fun day of cycling. Unfortunately things took a turn for the worse during a mid afternoon run and Scott was involved in a serious accident that has left him paralyzed. Scott is a pillar of the cycling community in the mid-atlantic region and chances are that if you’re reading this you know him. Please take minute to visit the site that’s been created for him to support his family during this very difficult time. And please, be careful out there, you just never know when your life will change dramatically…

Wednesday’s at Wakefield

Had a chance to go out and check out the races at the first Wednesday’s at Wakefield (W@W) of this year. The races generally begin with a kids race, then the men and women take to the trails for a spin around the single track under the power-lines and the woods of the popular Beltway destination. Here are some shots I managed to snap yesterday.

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.