The Big Ride 2012 is in the books. Our ride from Poolesville, Maryland, to Washington DC Saturday morning was a delightful conclusion to a seven-week odyssey.
We rose early; it had been a hot, muggy night in our tents and everyone was ready to ride to the end. By 6:15 AM we were on the road, passing horse farms in the Maryland countryside. In the cool of the morning, we rode through tree-lined country lanes and rolling hills leading toward Washington. It was some of the loveliest scenery of the entire trip.
Just before crossing the Beltway – halfway to the finish – we stopped at a Starbucks, lingering for coffee, doughnuts and reminiscing about our time together. Nobody wanted to go very fast today.
Approaching Washington, we rode onto the C & O bike trail, which leads gently downhill to the Potomac River near the edge of the city. It was crowded with runners and bikers taking advantage of a beautiful Saturday morning. The trail finally delivered us to the edge of our nation’s capital and several monuments to our national life – first the Watergate complex, then the Kennedy Center and the Lincoln Memorial.
There we found our way onto a trail along Constitution Avenue on the national mall. A feeling of exultation arose within. We’d made it: 3,360 miles on my odometer since leaving Seattle on June 18 – and we knew we’d earned every mile. Everybody who started in Seattle made it safely to Washington. We stopped to take photos of each other in front of the Washington Monument, affirming and punctuating our arrival, mainly for ourselves.
Then it was on to the Old Post Office, a celebratory lunch served up by a past Big Rider, and congratulatory hugs all around. Finally we gathered up for a ceremonial finish in Freedom Plaza, only blocks from the White House. In twos we rode to the finish line, where a throng of Lung Association staff and volunteers, along with families and friends, greeted us with a flourish.
Patty was there to meet me; so were our friends Larry Persily and Paul Brown, plus Paul’s son Rey. There were speeches, medals, an interview for some of us with a local radio personality. Then everybody headed off to deal with shipping bikes home, offloading our gear from the sag wagon, beginning our re-entry to regular life.
But we’ve completed a great task and a grand adventure. 3,360 miles, 48 days, 95,733 vertical feet of climbing, and a lifetime of memories. I’ve got a week now before returning to work, and I think I’ll ponder those things awhile longer. This was a pretty big item to check off my bucket list.
Poolsville, Maryland, to Washington DC by the numbers:
Today’s ride: 39.18 miles
Total distance: 3,360.46 miles
Time on bike today: 2 hours, 46 minutes
Total time on the bike: 224 hours, 42 minutes
Average speed today: 14.11 mph
Maximum speed today: 38.67 mph
Average cadence today: 72 rpm
Today’s climbing: 1,673 feet
Total climbing to date: 95,733 feet
Maximum altitude to date: 6,536 feet
Average heart rate today: 112 bpm
Maximum heart rate today: 154 bpm