Sunday, September 16, 2007

"Mass Ave Traffic Keep Left"

Well, I have finished my 50 States Bike Ride with the completion of phase three. I only had three states left, and I almost tried to complete them on Wednesday, but Southeast is not such a good neighborhood and it was getting dark. Anyway, I am done, and after 67.25 miles, I am ready for a rest.

I rode two short rides today, totalling almost 25 miles. One of my rides (the red one on the map, starting lower-right, moving northwest) highlighted my new favorite street in DC. Massachusetts Avenue stretches from Maryland to the Anacostia (and actually continues on the other side into Southeast) and is a marvelous street for bike riding. It is the avenue created by L'Enfant to complement Pennsylvania Avenue; it is the same width (160 feet) and it is actually the longest street in the District. It is home to many embassies and is the northern boundary of "Downtown Washington." From American University (home to my new NPR affiliate) to Union Station, this thoroughfare makes for a thorough cross-section of the cityscape. Anyway, my favorite section is from its intersection with Cathederal Ave in Northwest to 17th Street in Southeast. Starting near the Washington Cathederal, it is a steep downhill all the way to Rock Creek, allowing me to pick up quite a bit of speed on my bike. The next best thing is the trip around all of L'Enfant's obstacles. First there is quiet Sheridan Circle, bustling Dupont Circle, busy Scott Circle, crowded Thomas Circle, rebounding Mount Vernon Square, beautiful Columbus (semi) Circle, serene Stanton Park (square), and finally, quaint Lincoln Park (square). I love the circles and squares because of the sloloming. Mass Ave is fairly flat after Sheridan Circle, but getting to the high starting point at Cathederal Ave requires a bit of steep climbing.

Anyway, I don't know why that Sydney Ellen Wade character from "The American President" has such a penchant for getting lost on Dupont Circle. It's actually pretty easy to navigate. Connecticut Ave has an underpass, so only traffic travelling to the circle has to enter it; Massachusetts Ave has express lanes (which cross into the cirle, make no stops, and cross back over on the other side); and that leaves only P Street NW, 19 Street NW, and New Hampshire Ave. Personally, I love going to Dupont Circle. Other than being the heart of Washington's gay scene, it's always busy with office workers, apartment dwellers, and those damn lost tourists (just go around again nitwit). I must say that whoever programs the traffic lights here in DC has done a bang-up job. Imagine coordinating the lights on Dupont Circle alone. Wow!
View Larger Map

No comments: