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Vasa 2013 Ride

Posted by on April 6, 2013


The Washington Area Bicycling Association sponsors a ride held at the Swedish embassy on K Street in Washington DC. This ride is a celebration of the actual Vasaloppet in Sweden commemorating the escape of Gustav Eriksson Vasa.
Outside the Embassy
It was a cold morning. I got up early and didn’t prepare enough, because I ended up leaving my shoes at the house and had to return for them. I had contemplated riding down to the embassy, but at 32F at the time I woke up, I decided the better part of valour was to drive down and park near K street.
I also decided against the longer ride, and went for the Halv Vasa, which clocked in at 31 miles instead of the 63 mile Full Vasa.
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So I parked the bike, walked inside the embassy to try and warm my feet up, and wait the extra 30 minutes until the Halv Vasa went off.
The ride initially turned left onto K street, under the Whitehurst Freeway, down to the C&O canal. It was a bit crowded here, so I slowed and fell into place towards the rear of the group (which was about 100 at the time).
The C&O canal bike path is not a very good place for a road bike. It’s quite riddled with tree root invasions, and at times you’ll need to get onto the tow path, which is dirt. At Resevoir Road, we had to cross over the canal, which was frought with peril as I almost fell over due to the low speed and being clipped in.
I did pass a lot of people at this point, as the climb up Resevoir road up to MacArthur Blvd blew many people up. This was where all my winter riding paid off, since these little climbs weren’t really all that difficult.
My main issue was with the cold. I didn’t have any toe covers, so I really stopped feeling my toes at about 4 miles in.
At 6 miles I started hearing a ticking noise. I wasn’t sure if it were my bottom bracket or my rear wheel, but it got louder, went bang, and went away. I eventually noticed my Garmin wasn’t noticing my speed anymore, so I looked back and saw that the speed arm of the cadence/speed device had fallen off. Well not really fallen off, but got caught in my spokes and was ripped off. I then had to change the mode in the GPS for the bike to remove the cadence/speed sensor, since the Garmin will not use the GPS to determine speed if it detects or has a cadence/speed meter enabled.
Eventually at Great Falls, MacArthur dug into the group with a 1.2 mile climb. I passed more people here, but since I had no idea how long or how steep the hill was, I stayed well within my limits. The climb was like steps; steep climb, up to a flat, up another climb, to another flat, rinse, repeat. Eventually we turned right, rode down Falls road, and up to Potomac. On Falls road, I did get passed by an Audi R8. Niiice.
The break station was staged just outside a Vie de France bakery. My uncle did work for them back in the 80s, which even facilitated a trip to Long Beach, California to visit (well, for me it was a visit, I’m sure my uncle was working) to their main bakery there. It was a nice point to reminice about.
I tried to work my toes into some sort of warmth, but realizing this was a loss, I climbed back on after grabbing a Kind Blueberry bar, and headed back towards the Swedish embassy.
Somewhere along Oaklyn drive, three white tail deer ran across the road, 30 feet in front of me. That was my reminder to pay attention.
Somewhere around Sangamore local park, I pulled off and spend a good 5-10 minutes trying to warm up my feet again, as my left foot felt like my index toe was as big as my big toe (it wasn’t), but I got enough warmth into my feet to finish the ride.
Back down by the water treatment plant, down resevoir, to the C&O canal path.
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Eventually I made it back to the embassy, finishing behind a big guy on a recumbent, who also complained of frozen toes, and he did have toe covers.
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But at the embassy, my prize awaited….Blueberry Soup!
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Tasty Tasty fruit goodness.
I did talk to Alex from WABA, before finishing up and going back outside.
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A group of tourists did take my picture with my bike:
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