Individuals, such as myself, will find any excuse to ride a bike. The reasons can vary as well as the motivation for such reasoning. For example, “I need my base miles” or “Its a beautiful day out” or “I am going to the baseball game” (its spring right?). However, there is one universal truth in the world of bikes and people who ride them. If you offer the availability of any food or beverage product as a reward/treat during the ride, people will flock to the event, regardless of size, like hyenas chasing raw meat. Here is how this goes down: “Do you want to ride out to this coffee shop in a different town?” (half second pause…..) “Done, what time?” or “Anyone want to go on a brewery ride?” All of a sudden, people you have never met are making plans to ride bikes with you for tiny shot glasses of beer all over town. I will refer to this as “The Cycling Phenomenon.”
Both days during the weekend of March 22nd, 2014 was the quintessential example of this cyclist behavioral phenomenon. On Saturday, the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA) and The House of Sweden hosted their annual Vasa ride. After 53 miles, the ride culminates with blueberry soup, a treat traditionally served at the ski marathon Vasaloppet but I am not a historian so what the hell do I care. Plus, food….yummy……food. Wait, I must ride a bike? Really? ok.
This year, I convinced my brother-in-law, Sean (a.k.a The Wildcat) to ride it with me. In previous years, he has always been traveling or finding our excuses not to ride during what can be a very cold morning. This year, he could not escape. Plus, he is terribly susceptible to “The Cycling Phenomenon.” Generally, his weakness is BBQ pork (or Vitamin P) but the promised blueberry soup was enough to bring him out into the cold cruel world. Thankfully, the morning was reasonably warm with expected highs in the 60s. After checking in and seeing many friendly faces from #bikedc we set out down Water Street towards the Capital Crescent Trail. We continued up MacArthur Boulevard past Glen Echo Park and up the dreaded Falls Road hill into Potomac. Sean and I meandered along the two lane roads of rural and suburban Maryland until we reached Bethesda. We cut across Bethesda towards Rock Creek Park and eventually turned south towards the House of Sweden. Did I forgot to mention the blueberry soup? Like this winters Cider Ride, WABA staff make you work for your food until the bitter end. We pasted American University, down the recent New Mexico bike lanes, back up, down, up, down, up, mileage, more mileage. Yes!!!!!!!!. We arrived at MacArthur Boulevard and the home stretch. In previous years, I had taken liberty with the route so this was the first time to complete the full Vasa Ride. I must say the last half is the best half. I got to ride on new streets and go through sections of town I had not explored yet. A huge thanks goes out to WABA for putting on another fine event. However, the weekends examples of “The Cyclist Phenomenon” did not end there.
The next day, I invited Brian (a.k.a. @sharrowsDC and author of the popular bike blog, Tales from the Sharrows) for an arbitrary ride for arbitrary food products. I had a coupon set to expire from Haute Dogs in Alexandria so I suggested we ride for artisanal hot dogs with names like “Three Piece Suit” and “Duck, Duck, Dog. Of course, Brian succumbed to “The Cyclist Phenomenon” and folded like a cheap suit. “What time do we want to meet?”
After meeting at the Lincoln Memorial, we got on the Mount Vernon Trail and headed south with the smell of local sausages and wieners on our brain (yes, I said “wieners.” Get your mind out of the gutter). The previous day had been fairly warm but today was very chilly by comparison. However, this had a previously unknown advantage. All the recreational walkers, mall walkers, and bike riders I had already gotten their fill of the trail on Saturday anticipating the oncoming cold. “The Cyclist Phenomenon” laughs at cold weather like DC politicians laugh about legal parking in bike lanes. The result: Brian and I pretty much had the trail to yourselves all the way to Alexandria. There were a few leftover ice patches to remind us of the hard winter. Eventually, we arrived at Haute Dogs where I ordered this: The Diet Plate.
After a terrific lunch chatting about both of our humorous woes of bike commuting, Brian and I headed back towards DC to attend to our respective domestic duties. Unbeknownst to me, the temperature felt as if it had dropped 10 degrees during our lunch. Suddenly, Brian and I realized it was slowly becoming a nasty cold day in DC (shocker). We picked up the pace a little on the way home fighting the headwind. We rounded a corner near National Airport and there was Ted (a.k.a @MrTinDC) on his Surly. After chatting a bit, we all started to get cold so we parted ways.
This is not the first time “The Cyclist Phenomenon” has been observed in the wild nor will it be the last. It’s just nice to have a reason get outside and ride bikes with friends while enjoying good food. “The Cyclist Phenomenon” plays no favorites, nor does it cater to the spandex crowd. You want proof? Ok. Just look at the Coffeeneuring Challenge put on by @coffeeneur over at Chasing Mailboxes. How about @coffeeneur’s most recent plot to make you ride bikes, The Errandonnee? You see, “The Cycling Phenomenon” comes in all shapes and sizes. Now, go ride your bike toward some arbitrary item for arbitrary reasons with arbitrary people.