March 4, 2012

VASA Ride 2012

Washington, DC's VASA was my first group ride ever. I often ride with a friend or two, but more usually solo, so this was a new experience. It was a fun ride and I enjoyed the dynamics enough that my suspicion now is that all well-managed longer rides are probably fun. This one was sponsored by WABA (Washington Area Bicyclist Association,) which did a good job. Turned out that it was not hard to find people to ride with, the distance was easy, the traffic wasn't too bad and neither was the climbing.I rode it as a training ride for the 100K St. Patrick's Day ride coming up here, which promises more climbing and probably colder weather, although it certainly was windy in DC.

The start was crowded, and the weather good enough, so probably most of the 400 registered riders showed up. I have no sense for how they divided between the 58-mile, 39-mile and 16-mile versions,  but there were a lot of riders on the longest version. There were always other riders in sight, which I appreciated since I don't know that part of the city at all. WABA provided a rest stop enroute that offered energy drinks and perhaps snacks. Didn't want the snacks, but I did wish I didn't have two water bottles along. Thought of taking their drink and dumping my water, but it was just too much trouble.

The ride started right along the Potomac River and headed west for a short distance before working its way north to Bethesda. My most frequent riding companions were two young women from the DC area. Actually, everyone I met was from the metropolitan area. The crowd of riders was diverse, a mix of ages, skills and rising styles.

The only snafu was that the group I was riding with turned onto the Capital Crescent Trail at the wrong place and rode for a mile or two before the local riders realized it. By then, the overwhelming consensus of the group (understand that to mean 2 out of 3) was to continue along that route, which turned the 58-mile route into a 50-mile route. That was a bit disappointing, but I wasn't interested in going back alone to search for the right way, especially since I saw other VASA riders coming along the same direction. It wasn't a huge big deal, after all, it was a training ride for me and worked well at that. Back at the Swedish Embassy, I was told that many returning riders used that route. If the cue sheet had told us which direction to turn it would have helped.

The hot blueberry soup hit the spot, it reminded me a bit of Czechoslovakian hot cherry soup, thankfully without the cream. You can see the route here, on Map My Ride. I was told it is the same every year, though I don't know.


  1. I'm sorry I missed you!!! It seems a great many people missed the turn off the CCT. It is such a problem I am surprised the ride organizers haven't taken steps to solve the issue.

    I'm glad you enjoyed your visit and the ride wasn't a bad decision for you. As the traffic closed in on me around Bethesda, I thought to myself, "Suze isn't going to like this!" :)

  2. Hey Steve,

    Glad you got there ... and sorry to have missed you also! Before it got moving I saw a brand new -looking carbon Trek, not a spot on it, thought it might be yours and took some photos. Then an old guy with a grey beard got on it. Resisted the idea of telling him to leave your bike alone!

    It was a fun ride, glad I could make it. How did you like your new bike? And good luck on the 200K (if I remember right) coming up.


  3. Hi Suze! It was nice meeting (and riding with you)! You're right, I should have just left the bag at home. I was worried about how I was going to carry my lock & some other stuff I had needed for an appointment after the ride. Oh well, it was no big deal in the end. Maybe I will see you at some other WABA events? Bike DC is May 13th!

    1. Hi Kate! Good to hear from you, thanks for visiting my site. I live an 8-hour drive north, so won't make it to the Bike DC ride, but will look for WABA rides when I visit. It is a shame that Amtrak makes it so hard to take bikes on the train ... it is such an easier and more sensible way to travel and I would visit more frequently with my bike.

      Touring bikes are great, congrats on your new one, hope you love it! That's my favorite kind of cycling. Funny, Papillon (my bike, also designed for touring) is also green.

      Happy Pedaling, Suze

  4. Suze! i thought i had replied, but i guess it never went thru :/ anyway- it was so great to meet you and thank you SO MUCH for riding with me! i really needed to have a support rider on this ride- it was way brutal for me! we may have took a "shortcut" but it was enough for me. good luck with your riding, and let me know if you're ever in dc again w you bike ;)

  5. Hi, do I remember/guess Anna?

    It's great to hear from you and was very fun to get to ride with you. I just went to your blog and loved reading your post about the ride, it brings it right back into the present! The shortcut worked out fine for me, after all my major reason being in town was to spend some time with my sister and her family.

    That was the first time I've taken my bike when visiting DC, but will surely contact you if I do again.

    Have fun riding in your beautiful city!



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