Learning to Ride Well With Others
Different routes, different faces, different experiences - Arlington's got plenty of opportunities to ride with other people.
There are few pleasures like sneaking away from work on an early spring day for a solo spin. Taking in the early warm rays of the year is wonderful enough on its own, but it’s often done while virtually alone on the road. As spring develops, though, those playing hookie will soon be joined by more riders. By the time spring’s well under way, there will be groups of riders all over the place. Where do these people find each other?
For cyclists based in Arlington, there’s no shortage of options to connect with others for a ride. Some rides are regularly scheduled bike-shop or club rides. Then there are one-time event rides like BikeDC. Most frequently, someone just comes up with idea for a ride, posts it online, and people show up.
Shop rides usually run at the same time every week. Revolution Cycles’ Clarendon location and Conte’s both have weeknight rides aimed at fitness riders. Some of their rides haven’t started yet, but will soon. When the rides get big enough, there are often multiple sub-groups that ride together at the same speed. Revolution’s City Hub location (in Crystal City) hosted rides geared toward a more social experience last year, and they were well attended by riders of all stripes. Phoenix Bikes (in Barcroft) often coordinates "youth rides" aimed at the middle school set.
Clubs like the Potomac Pedalers Touring Club have regularly scheduled volunteer-led rides year round. PPTC’s ride schedule tells riders up front the speed and length of a given ride, a big plus for those new to group rides. For those looking to ride in the dirt, the Mid-Atlantic Off Road Enthusiasts (MORE) often have loosely organized group rides through local MTB trail systems like Wakefield. Non-members are always welcome to both PPTC and MORE rides, though frequent attendees will be expected to join.
There are also a number of one-off rides within pedaling distance from Arlington. These are usually aimed at cyclists of all skill levels, and often have a registration fee. BikeDC, for example, is $35 to register. For that, you get a closed course (including a chance to ride on the George Washington Parkway, car-free!), food and water at the rest stops, and plenty of guidance along the way. For those looking for a rural escape, there are similar annual events within easy driving distance of Arlington, including the Back Roads Century, the Rappahannock Rough Ride, and the Seagull Century.
Finally, there’s always something to be discovered by just cruising around the local bike forums and blogs. Earlier this year, a soon-to-be-departing cyclist posted at the Bike Arlington forum that he’d always wanted to ride past every embassy in DC. Just a few days later a small group of riders who’d never previously met planned and completed the ride. Shops starting new and interesting rides – like BicycleSpace’s City Explorer rides in DC – often spread word online. In fact, most any kind of ride can be announced and draw at least a few similarly interested riders in this area – someone just needs to propose it.