Alright, so you're not really going to ride your bike all the way across the country in one day, but you can certainly ride around DC and pay homage to all the states on the highly popular 50 States and 13 Colonies Ride. This ride is legendary and certainly worth riding at least once. You are guaranteed to get to know the nation’s capital more intimately and it’s arguably the best way to see the whole of the city. Sponsored by the Washington Area Bicyclists Association (WABA), this self-guided, rain-or-shine mainstay in district cycling lore tours all of the state and/or colony-named streets symbolizing the DNA of our country. Registration for this year's ride begins Tuesday, August 11th and as sign ups are first come first served, it usually sells out within the first couple of days. The event itself takes place on Saturday, September 12th, 2015 making it a perfect way to celebrate the end of the summer if you find yourself in the U.S. Capitol.
There are two ways to approach this ride. You can choose the brutal 50 States ride which winds through 62 miles of city neighborhoods, takes you down all 50 state-named streets, and covers all eight wards of Washington, DC . You will really feel the burn exploring a significant footprint of the city and all the hills that roll through it. This ride is best for those with at least some distance cycling experience.
Your second choice is the more leisurely 13 Colonies ride. If you want to participate, but want a more laid back experience this is the ride for you. Head out on this 15-mile route along streets that weave through northwest, northeast, and southeast DC and that are all named after the original 13 Colonies. While this ride may not be as burly as its counterpart, it still provides you with a nice tour of the city and a great way to get out with a bunch of other riders for a day of cycling fun.
At check in on race day, you will see the route map for the first time, marked with pit-stop locations scattered along the way—there are four pit-stops on the 50 States route and one on the 13 Colonies route. Part of the adventure (and fun) of learning the route on the day of the race is that you will almost certainly get lost—and there's no better way to learn a city than by trying to find your way through it. But, have no fear, this method is mysterious by design and ride marshals will be placed throughout the course to steer you in the right direction.
This is an open race, meaning that streets will remain open to traffic. And just as getting to know a place is often best done by getting a bit lost, learning how to navigate city traffic with droves of other stop-and-go riders by your side may be the ideal way to hone your city-cycling skills.
When you are done, reward yourself after a full day of exertion with a post-ride celebration including beer and food specials at locals' favorite pizza joint, Mellow Mushroom. This is where you’ll pick up your commemorative t-shirt. And don’t forget to invite your friends! The celebration is open to all.
To keep order in the city, WABA has laid down a few very basic ground rules for the ride. A no-brainer, helmets are required. And, no refunds, exchanges, or transfers will be offered after registration is complete, but you can opt into the alternate route at sign-in if you so desire. So if you were feeling pretty optimistic about your riding prowess during registration and went big with the 50 States Ride, and then come ride day you find that you might not be as ready as you thought you might be , you can change to the 13 Colonies Ride with no problem, and vice versa.
Because of the growing popularity of the event, you must be a member of WABA to register. It’s only $35.00 for a year-long membership and with that you get access to many other awesome cycling fiestas, including Bike to Work Day, the Cider Ride, and the famed Tour de Fat.
Join WABA today and queue up your email reminder for registration. Visit the official website for more information about the event including where and when to check in, what to bring, and additional info.