Saturday, March 27, 2010

A VASA Difference

Time flies whether you're having fun or not. So it's been weeks since this event that I'm only writing up now. The Embassy of Sweden hosted a ride on March 7th, in celebration of a famous Swedish ski race and festival, Vasaloppet. How could a Volvo-driving, IKEA-shopping cycling nut like me resist? Only thing was, the start time for the first ride was (ugh) 7:30 a.m. I planned on going on the second ride at 8:30, and set my alarm for 5.

Three rides were offered: 56-mile out into Montgomery County, 31-mile along the Potomac shore, and 15-mile through downtown DC. I thought the 31-mile ride looked both interesting and manageable for my state of tune. However, while I did indeed get up and get ready, I got halfway to the start and realised I'd left my wallet at home. Then I realized I needed a layer to keep out the wind. So it took me three starts to get there and it was 8:45 when I arrived. 

I had signed up for this with no real idea of what the turnout would be--and this is only about my fifth time on a group ride of any kind. A solid wall of bicycles greeted me at the start. I heard later that there were 650 people on this ride, and most of them seemed to have opted for the DC route. At the sign-in table, they told me I was welcome to ride the 31-mile route, but I'd be following the group. I figured that I could always ride by myself, and I'd ride the 15-miler with the group that was there. I had thought, looking at the route map, that it would be too much like my recent urban rides around Arlington, and not enough of a workout. However, it was an interesting route, and it was enough of a ride for the shape I was in, especially when I added on getting to the start and home, which was another 15 miles or more.

At the end, the Embassy served us warm blueberry soup. It was a perfect after-ride refreshment for a chilly morning. I took a few pictures; they show a lot fewer people than were there because I took them late in the day when many riders had already left. 

While the majority of the riders were on upright bikes, there were several recumbents and one or two other trikes (I know a Catrike was on the ride and I saw a Greenspeed afterwards). In conversation with one of the recumbent bike riders, I mentioned this blog and gave him the URL--and found out he reads it. I'd never met him before. It was a great moment. Sometimes I have no idea whether anyone's really out there. Nice to find out someone is. 

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