The Mount Vernon Trail is 18 miles long and runs between George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate and Theodore Roosevelt Island with a whole lot to see and do in between.

We recently rode it and started in Old Town Alexandria and headed up towards Theodore Roosevelt Island.

The Lincoln and Washington Monuments

Parking

We ended up doing street parking in Old Town Alexandria since I couldn’t find a lot specifically for the trail. Along the ride we came across Gravelly Point Park which would be a great place to park and also watch the planes coming from and leaving Reagan National Airport. Once we had been to the end and back we headed a little further south and found a huge parking lot located underneath the Woodrow Wilson Bridge, Jones Point Park. This was especially nice because it had air conditioned restrooms. Our ride was an afternoon during the week. So I imagine that this lot may be pretty busy on the weekend but can’t say for sure.

The Ride

We followed signs to the trail from where we had parked and promptly found that section to be closed. So we rode around a little and just ended up following South Union Street to where the trail really resumed. There are lots of parks in this section and it doesn’t appear that the trail is super continuous along the river here. South Union Street has a marked bike line and was easy to ride. I think from looking at maps and more research after the ride that this is actually the intended route for the Mount Vernon Trail but it is just poorly marked.

Once that was sorted out it was super easy to follow. The trail is actually very well signed with points of interest and distances to them along the route. You could certainly grab your bike and spend

The trail is well marked.

a full day using the Mount Vernon Trail to site see.

There is access to Arlington National Cemetery from the trail. Of course Mount Vernon on one end and Theodore Roosevelt Island on the other end. Bikes aren’t allowed on the Island but there is a bike rack to secure your bike to. Lady Bird Johnson Park, downtown Rosslyn, VA, the U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial and Old Town Alexandria are a few more places of interest to explore. You can also ride your bike across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge to National Harbor. Which is what we are planning on doing during our next ride in this area. Access is also available the Washington and Old Dominion Trail that will run you 45 miles outside of town to Purcellville.

Mount Vernon Trail Boardwalk

A section crossing wetlands on the    Mount Vernon Trail

I was quickly impressed by the diversity this trail offered during the ride. Out of the city and I was soon on a path paralleling the Potomac with residential high rises. Then before you knew it I was on a boardwalk riding in a wet land area which then opened up to a public park. Shortly after that we were passing a marina followed by Reagan National Airport. Often we stopped to take in the sites and snap a few pictures. National Monuments are in almost every direction you look. Each view better than the next. Then we came across Gravelly Point Park. Which as I mentioned

Flying overhead

before has lot of parking but more interestingly this park is literally part of the approach to Reagan Nationals Airport. The planes fly directly overhead. So if you are looking for peace and quiet this may not be the place for you but there is plenty to see.

The trail is rolling but certainly should be able to be ridden by anyone who can ride a bike. It isn’t as flat as a rail to trail trail but I wouldn’t let that scare any rider away. It also has a convenient yellow strip down the center to remind users where they need to be on the trail.

The trail comes to an unceremonious end at Theodore Roosevelt Island. There is a ramp there that looks like it heads into Rosslyn so you can continue to explore.

The trail wasn’t super busy but as we got later in the afternoon more people commuting on the trail started showing up and more people were using it for their afternoon workout. I imagine based on its location it could be busy but it is still worth checking out.

After our return towards the car we headed a little further south from our starting point and rode a few miles south of Old Town. Here the trail started to become less city in nature and more open space. We didn’t ride all the way to Mount Vernon but returned to our car where we did drive all the way to the end to check out the rest of the trail.

The further south you get from Old Town Alexandria you certainly get out of the city and come across some parks and then end up riding thru residential areas before the trail reaches Mount

Vernon. This section looked to be very enjoyable in many cases you lost sight of the trail from George Washington Memorial Parkway. As the trail hides it’s self in the “woods” and does cross the Parkway in a few places. You also pass by Fort Hunt Park.

Our next ride on the Mount Vernon Trail we plan to park at National Harbor and ride across the Woodrow Wilson Bridge and head south to Mount Vernon. If you haven’t explored the Mount Vernon Trail I encourage you to do so.

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The Western Maryland Rail Trail (WMRT) is 22.5 mile long rails to trail that runs from Pearre Station, Maryland on the west end to Fort Frederick on the eastern most end.

The trail is paved and being a rails to trail trail it is relatively flat. During our ride we saw cyclists, walkers and an in line skater. I imagine in the winter this would also be a good cross country ski trail. (Not sure if they clear it of snow.)

Canal access in Hancock from the Western Maryland Rail Trail

My wife and I chose to start in Hancock and ride to towards Pearre Station. We had learned from talking to friends that this was the more scenic portion of the trail. The portion heading east parallels 70 much more closely. You can see the trail from 70 in several sections. Yet this section also has more access to services so if you are a thru traveler this section may come as a welcomed relief, as may a paved trail. The Western Maryland Rail Trail should certainly be considered as a route option for those riding the Great Allegheny Passage and C & O Canal between Pittsburgh and Washington, DC.

Parking and Access

Access to the trail is very easy with parking just off of Interstate 70 in Hancock. We parked at the first WMRT lot that was signed off 70 in Hancock. We rode during a weekday and the lot looked to be used primarily as a Park and Ride lot. Access to the trail was easily found at the end of the lot. As we rode into Hancock there was more parking, free parking looked limited but there was a metered lot. This was about .4 miles from where we parked.

Heading in this direction Hancock is one of the last places to access services. The services are marked by signs on the trail which is super convenient. On the western end of Hancock is C & O

Services Signage

Bicycles in case you need anything. Others who have ridden the trail tell me services are more plentiful east of Hancock but the section we rode is much more scenic. We did pass a trail side B&B during our ride and some houses had coolers with bottled water if you needed to top off.

Hancock provides access to both the Western Maryland Rail Trail and the C & O Canal. It is also home to a visitor center for the Canal with a lot just prior to the one we parked in for the WMRT.

The Ride

The view just gets better.

This is a unique rail trail as it is very scenic with cuts through stone etc. following the old rail bed. Lots of energy was used in creating this trail when it is was being built. The trail is in pretty good shape with the usual ripples in the trail from roots breaking the pavement but it isn’t terrible. There are lots of historical markers and even a B&B along the way. Distances are marked with white posts in one mile increments.

 

We rode to Pearre on the western end of the trail and returned the same way. We had a little side trip down a road to a valley to view a waterfall we could hear from the trail. The trail end is a crossing over place to the canal at Lock 56. There aren’t many places to cross between the trails in this section but it is possible in some areas.

Western Maryland Rail Trail

Enjoying the scenery on the western Maryland Rail Trail

The WMRT runs “above” the Canal in this portion and it does so for the entire length. While we rode an out and back on the WMRT one ride option would be to ride the C & O Canal for part of your ride and then “loop” back on the WMRT. This would make your return ride a little easier on the paved Western Maryland Rail Trail versus the gravel surface of the C&  O Canal. Plus you would get two perspectives from your ride.

The trail is on the narrower side then some rails to trails but plenty wide to ride and pass other cyclists. We saw lots of wildlife along the way and had a great day of riding. While this Western Maryland Rail Trail would be fun to ride any time of year I imaging the fall foliage would be spectacular. We’ll certainly be back to check out the rest of the trail and enjoy the foliage.

Ben Spies

Elbows out: After its debut in 2011, Elbowz Racing quickly became one of the top amateur teams in the U.S. Photo: Elbowz Racing. Cat. 1 racer, and most notably, he started the successful Elbowz Racing team, which, in its rookie season in 2011, won more than 70 races. Spies won the AMA Superbike national championship for in 2006, and successfully defended his title in 2007, and again in 2008. He then went on to win the world Superbike championship in 2009, which he describes as nothing more than “a big dream.” Even with motorcycle racing at the forefront, Spies began cycling as a way to get in shape, beginning nearly a decade ago. Despite the difference in the physics and dynamics of bike racing and motorcycle racing, there are also similarities, in body position, and in the accompanying adrenaline rush. – Velonews

Professional Athletes are integrating the bicycle into their workout routines in greater numbers. Many NASCAR drivers are riding and Jimmie Johnson recently said on Lance Armstrong’s Podcast that in the mornings you’ll often see large groups leaving the track to go for a ride.

Today we are going to talk about a local athlete Ray Lewis and his love of the bicycle. We’ll circle back to NASCAR in an upcoming post.

Ray talks about his love of cycling in this Intro to a Spinervals video he recorded with Baltimore resident and Coach Troy Jacobson:

From: The Post Game

Ravens coach John Harbaugh says the All-Pro linebacker is in the best shape that he’s ever seen him in, and Lewis says that’s thanks to cycling.Ray Lewis Indoor Training

“I credit a lot of my training to a lot of my cycling,” Lewis told reporters, getting more excited by the word. “I did a lot of cycling. I became real big in it. First couple times I went out there I was like, ‘Oh my gosh!’ I mean, the fatigue that you go through…”

One reason Lewis brought out the bicycle is because it puts less stress on legs than pounding the pavement.

Have any of you seen Ray while out on a ride?

This post is part of our celebration of the 200th Anniversary of the Bicycle and the people who love them.

 

Pink (Alecia Moore) is often seen cycling, alone, with her family or to run errands. While on tour she is likely to be spotted on her bicycle exploring cities. Seems the only important accessory she usually leaves behind when photographed on rides is her helmet. However in some recent Instagram posts she is wearing a helmet so maybe she has changed her ways, we hope so for her and her family. Yet Another reason for her cycling is;

“The singer makes a point of riding bicycles instead of using a horse drawn carriage, which she is part of a PETA campaign against.” From ilovebicycling.com

 

This post is part of our series celebrating the 200th Anniversary of the Bicycle and the people who love bicycles.

 

Famous People who Rode – Albert Einstein

 

Early in his schooling at Munich University in Germany, Einstein would often take bicycle tours with fellow scientists to contemplate the world at large. It is thought he had several ‘Eureka!’ moments while out cycling.

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein

This is part of our celebration of the 200 Anniversary of the Bicycle

Patrick Dempsey – Celebrities who Ride

Patrick Dempsey Actor, Production Manager and Producer but best known for his role as Dr. Derek Shepherd on Grey’s Anatomy is an avid cyclist. He has also acted in the Bridget Jones’s movies, Sweet Home Alabama and Can’t Buy Me Love to name a few.

From a Bicycling Magazine Interview we learned a little more about his passion for cycling:

Dempsey started riding after his mother was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. “I find biking is the best way to work on your cardio, and your lower body and core strength. It’s just an incredible sport. I love it. It just calms you down and it’s mediation in motion. Getting my daughter and the boys, and my wife, on bikes was a really great breakthrough this last year. It’s been a great way for us to spend time talking and working things out. It becomes therapy together because you get out and you’re moving and distracted. At the same time you can communicate.”

(interview) http://www.bicycling.com/culture/people/patrick-dempsey-s-challenge

Famous People and Bicycles

Certainly on the short list of famous people who had ties to cycling and the cycling industry are the Wright brothers. They bought their first bicycles in 1892 and in 1893 they started a repair and rental business in Dayton, Ohio. Expansion was next for the brothers as they started manufacturing their own line of bicycles. It is here where they started creating and building their flying machines. Ultimately using this knowledge and experience in their design and construction of the airplane.

 

 

 

From the Air and Space Website:

“In designing their airplane, the Wrights drew upon a number of bicycle concepts:

The Wright Brothers Bicycle Store Dayton, Ohio

•             The central importance of balance and control.

•             The need for strong but lightweight structures.

•             The chain-and-sprocket transmission system for propulsion.

•             Concerns regarding wind resistance and aerodynamic shape of the operator.”

From: https://airandspace.si.edu/exhibitions/wright-brothers/online/who/1895/biketoflight.cfm

The Wright Brothers journey is truly fascinating and the bicycle played a major role in their lives. Obviously there is a ton of material about them so I won’t go on but I do highly recommend David McCullough book “The Wright Brothers” if you want to dig deeper into their story. Also the Air and Space Museum has some great information that can be found from the link above.

The bike hasn’t changed much in its basic shape over the years. It certainly gotten better and a lot more choices in styles etc.

Bicycle History

A little history of the bicycle again from Wikipedia:

The first verifiable claim for a practically used bicycle belongs to German Baron Karl von Drais, a civil servant to the Grand Duke of Baden in Germany. Drais invented his Laufmaschine (German for “running machine”) of 1817 that was called Draisine (English) or draisienne (French) by the press. Karl von Drais patented this design in 1818, which was the first commercially successful two-wheeled, steerable, human-propelled machine, commonly called a velocipede, and nicknamed hobby-horse or dandy horse.[8] It was initially manufactured in Germany and France. Hans-Erhard Lessing (Drais’ biographer) found from circumstantial evidence that Drais’ interest in finding an alternative to the horse was the starvation and death of horses caused by crop failure in 1816, the Year Without a Summer following the volcanic eruption of Tambora in 1815).[9] On his first reported ride from Mannheim on June 12, 1817, he covered 13 km (eight miles) in less than an hour.[10] Constructed almost entirely of wood, the draisine weighed 22 kg (48 pounds), had brass bushings within the wheel bearings, iron shod wheels, a rear-wheel brake and 152 mm (6 inches) of trail of the front-wheel for a self-centering caster effect. This design was welcomed by mechanically minded men daring to balance, and several thousand copies were built and used, primarily in Western Europe and in North America. Its popularity rapidly faded when, partly due to increasing numbers of accidents, some city authorities began to prohibit its use.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_bicycle

Image Information: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=4406665

So now that we have a little of the background stuff out of the way we’ll be sharing quotes and talking about some famous people who ride bicycles.

Our customers celebrate the bicycle every day and so do we. For the month of June we’ll be celebrating the bicycle a little more than normal. This month is extra special this year, June 12th is the 200th Anniversary of the first bicycle ride. During June we will be sharing fun facts and such about the bicycle. It is our hope that you enjoy them and maybe share them with your friends. Riding bikes is super fun and so is talking about them.

We’ll start today with Wikipedia’s Definition of the bicycle:

Bicycle

The early bicycle.bicycle, also called a cycle or bike, is a human-poweredpedal-drivensingle-track vehicle, having two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other. A bicycle rider is called a cyclist, or bicyclist.

Bicycles were introduced in the 19th century in Europe and as of 2003, more than 1 billion have been produced worldwide, twice as many as the number of automobiles that have been produced.[2] They are the principal means of transportation in many regions. They also provide a popular form of recreation, and have been adapted for use as children’s toys, general fitness, military and police applications, courier servicesbicycle racing and bicycle stunts.

The basic shape and configuration of a typical upright or “safety bicycle”, has changed little since the first chain-driven model was developed around 1885.[3][4][5] But many details have been improved, especially since the advent of modern materials and computer-aided design. These have allowed for a proliferation of specialized designs for many types of cycling.

The bicycle’s invention has had an enormous effect on society, both in terms of culture and of advancing modern industrial methods. Several components that eventually played a key role in the development of the automobile were initially invented for use in the bicycle, including ball bearingspneumatic tireschain-driven sprockets, and tension-spoked wheels.[6]

Wikipedia Link: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bicycle

Link to image information: https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=727702

The bicycle sure has come a long way hasn’t it!