Arlington's old tradition of a slow-speed and chill "community ride" was revived in the form of the Arlington Fun Ride last year. More than 100 people participated, and the organizers of this community-led ride decided to do it again this year on Saturday, Oct. 6. (Disclosure: I'm somewhat involved in organizing it.) The organizers hope to use the ride to encourage Arlington's youth, adults and families to see the county's trail system as a safe means of transportation and recreation.
The fun starts at 8 a.m. at Phoenix Bikes in Barcroft Park, when the main ride gets ready to go. Marshals will help guide riders on a 17-mile route along the Arlington Loop, which allows a cirumnavigtion of the county almost entirely on trails, with just a few road crossings.
Starting from Phoenix Bikes, riders head east on the Four Mile Run Trail until it hits the Mount Vernon Trail just south of the airport. From there, the trek heads north, stopping for a break in Crystal City, and then up to Rosslyn’s Gateway Park for another stop.
The riders can take their time getting up the Rosslyn hill to continue west along the Custis Trail to another pit stop in Ballston. They will then return along the Custis and Washington & Old Dominion trails and head back to Barcroft Park. The rest stops in Ballston, Crystal City and Rosslyn will provide bike mechanics, nutritious snacks, beverages and giveaways.
The organizers have also designed a program for families and those with smaller children who aren't quite up to the full ride. Starting at 10 a.m., there will be a family bike show-and-tell. Arlington Public Schools will be managing a bike rodeo for younger riders. And at 10:30 a.m., there will be a special short trail ride for children and families. The main ride is expected to return to Barcroft between 11 a.m. and noon.
Both rides are casual and family-friendly events with no racing or competition. A celebration at Barcroft Park will follow the ride, including music, snacks and raffles. Also returning this year will be the SensaZao Crew, putting on dance peformances and even leading a lesson or two.
Proceeds from the ride will benefit Arlington’s Phoenix Bikes, a nonprofit organization that operates to “empower youth to become social entrepreneurs through direct participation in a financially and environmentally sustainable nonprofit bike shop that serves the community.” Every child registered for the ride will be entered in a drawing to win a custom bike refurbished to their specifications from Phoenix Bikes.
Community rides like this are a great chance to get out and chat with your neighbors and fellow cyclists while enjoying Arlington's trail system. Give it a go.
Barcroft Park is at 4200 S. Four Mile Run Drive. More information about the ride, including registration information, can be found here. Registration will also be available on-site, but T-shirt supplies might be limited.
Mark Blacknell is a member of the Arlington Bicycle Advisory Committee, president of the Washington Area Bicyclist Association board of directors, and a League Cycling Instructor.