Monday, November 21, 2011

Capital Bikeshare

I have to say, Washington DC is not on my list of travel destinations when I'm planning my downtime... But this weekend, it did not disappoint.

I've been trying to heal up blisters from my October Vegas trip for way too long, nonetheless Saturday we walked from our hotel to the memorials and literally all day long. On the way home, I saw a Capital Bikeshare station and looked them up. What a brilliant idea, to put bicycles everywhere for people to use, even better - people actually use them!

The premise is that you pick up a bicycle at a station, pay a fee for a period of use, and then depending on how long you use the bicycle, a usage fee... most of the time its free. (More on the usage of the word 'its' to come, it's my new pet peeve) The bikes are 3-speed hybrids with a shelf on the front that you can bungee a bag to, and all of the ones I rented were in excellent shape, clean and surprisingly comfortable. The first day, we rode from our hotel down to the memorials and out to eat. I was really impressed with how easy the stations are to use, how many there are - plus there is an app called 'Spotcycle' that shows you the stations where you can pick up or dock your bike, and how many are available there. If you create an account, you can even get turn by turn directions to your destination. The app shows you stations located in DC, Boston and Minneapolis (and elsewhere around the world) and will be expanding to include other pedal-friendly cities soon.

On my Monday cycle trip of DC, I went from city center to the museums... then went across the river and found Lady Bird Johnson park. I took a few unintentional detours, one of the freeway, another taking me several miles out of the way - and all culminating in a 20-mile ride around the DC metro area. Lady Bird park was beautiful, the weeping willows and waning maples were beautiful enough to slow my ride way down. The path was well maintained, trailing along the Potomac up to Arlington and I passed the time by enjoying the scenery. Checking the spotcycle app, I realized the nearest return station was a good ways away, so I headed there to hang up my tired legs instead of visiting Arlington National Cemetery. I'll have to visit another time. Once in Arlington, I rested on the Metro and rode over to Clarendon for a glass of wine.

By the time I was done, I had ridden or walked all day, had a plane to catch and was out of gas... also, it had turned cold and rainy and my whole being echoed with the pavement I'd knocked myself against for days. As tired as I was, if I go back to DC, I'll sooner rent a bicycle and ride around than ride the Metro, because the Metro doesn't go to Lady Bird Johnson park, there are no weeping willows in the station, and you'd miss a whole lot of the city besides those things if you didn't take the ride I did on Monday.

I never mean to get lost - in fact I pride myself on being an excellent navigator, but sometimes your soul just reaches up out of your shoulders and pushes you the 'wrong' direction, and next thing you know, you're lost. 'Lost' isn't always a bad thing... sometimes all you need is to get lost enough that you look up from your map, see beautiful scenery, and stop worrying about where you're going... and believe in what you see. I know I needed to get lost on Monday so that I could enjoy the breathtaking view of DC properly. Remind yourself, 'Self - it's not about I'm you're going, it's about where I am.'

Tolkien was so utterly right when he said 'Not all who wander are lost.' Wander with me:

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