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View Full Version : What if I can't make it home up the Cap. Cresc. trail? Newbie commuter...



BethesdaRider40
07-28-2011, 09:04 PM
I plan to start biking the Capital Crescent trail from Bethesda to downtown (Union Station-ish), mostly for the exercise benefits of biking to work. But I am not in very good shape yet - I have 20 lbs. to lose and haven't done much exercise in the last year or two other than walking and a little running. The Cap. Crescent trail is downhill so much of the way inbound that I'm comfortable with the ride to work -- but I'm worried that I won't have enough strength/stamina for the uphill ride home! What are my backup options? Can I bail at Dupont Circle and take the metro with my bike during rush hour? If not the metro, what about a bus? Is there anything else I can do to ensure success (other than ramping up with some practice rides)? TIA!

Greenbelt
07-28-2011, 09:21 PM
Stay late after work. Have a beverage and get a bite of dinner. Then, anytime after 7pm you can take your bike directly on the metro for the trip back to Bethesda. I did this last winter when I had to work late (didn't want to ride home after dark on the unlit trails along my route). Of course, it presumes you have the flexibility to stay downtown until after 7.

KLizotte
07-28-2011, 11:43 PM
Greenbelt is right. Metro doesn't allow you to take bikes onboard during rush hour :(; however, you can stick your bike on a metro bus at any time. You may wish to check the WMATA site to see if there are any convenient bus routes that could get you home all the way, or just partially.

The CCT isn't really all that scary, even if you're out of shape. Just put your bike in the granny gear and take your time and enjoy the scenery; this is esp true in the summer when it is hot and humid (fortunately the CCT is mostly shaded). Be sure you have plenty of water (and a granola bar or two to fend off the hungries before dinner). After a month or two you won't even notice the gentle incline and you'll really be humming along when the nice fall weather comes. You can take a mini break in Georgetown along the waterfront as well; great people watching this time of year.

If your muscles are really hurting, you may wish to ride into DC in the morning, leave the bike overnight (presuming you have a very secure place to keep it), then ride back the next day.

Best of luck!

CCrew
07-29-2011, 03:56 AM
Metro allows folding bikes though, so that's a potential option.

JimF22003
07-29-2011, 05:04 AM
Best thing to do is try a dry run on the weekend.

DismalScientist
07-29-2011, 06:04 AM
Metrobus! It's why I don't carry patch/kit and tools on my commute. I hop on if rain is likely/happening. The front racks on the buses are easy to operate. This is by far the most hassle-free alternative for me.

StopMeansStop
07-29-2011, 07:24 AM
Carry a u lock and a bag to carry your stuff. If you have to bail, just lock your ride up and pick it up the next day.

americancyclo
07-29-2011, 07:37 AM
Looks like there are a few buses that run along MacArthur Blvd that you could connect to ones heading towards Bethesda if you really needed. Good to know you have a safety net, but the two or three transfers might be enough motivation to push on through! It's about a 300 ft elevation gain over 7 miles. You can do it!

baiskeli
07-29-2011, 11:11 AM
My advice for when you do take the CC home:

Keep in mind that it's always harder when you just get started. Don't do the trip home the first time and assume it will always be as hard. Pace yourself. Don't try to maintain a high speed when it's hard, especially up a steep hill. Drop into your lowest gear and slow down as much as you can without falling over, and just keep going. Slow pace, low gear = "slow and low."

BethesdaRider40
07-29-2011, 08:25 PM
Thanks everyone for all the advice and encouragement! I can't stay downtown that late due to child care, but I will try the low gears and take my time (and research the bus routes just in case!)

Riley Casey
07-29-2011, 09:46 PM
If you have child care deadlines to meet then that weekend dry run to establish the time required for the return trip is really essential. Another option to bear in mind is that the trip from Silver Spring metro to Bethesda metro is very fast and level out Second Ave and over the trail as well so a bus ride up 16th St is a good choice.

Greenbelt
07-30-2011, 05:39 PM
One issue with the afternoon trip home is the heat. I'm lucky and can sometimes wait until 7 or 7:30 when the sun is lower. But if you have to be back home earlier, there's going to be no avoiding the peak heat. I'd make sure to have at least two water bottles, if possible, and drink a lot throughout the work day to make sure you're hydrated for the return trip. I was sick hot out there on Friday afternoon, although next week looks a little better.

TDB
07-31-2011, 02:30 PM
Just an FYI, Metro defines rush hour as 7-10 AM and 4-7 PM, and doesn't allow the use of bikes on the trains during those times. Though I have often seen people during those hours on the rails, and can only assume they bribed one of the little desk employees or got on the system before rush hour time began. Personally I find the restrictions incredibly inopportune, as in the past few summer months at least 25 times I have desired to take my bike in to DC on the metro to avoid heat and traffic, only to remember they'll turn me away. Frustrating.


TDB

CCrew
07-31-2011, 04:10 PM
can only assume they bribed one of the little desk employees or got on the system before rush hour time began.

Probably more likely to assume that they went on at a station where the attendant was occupied doing something else. I've not checked the clock and gotten on in off hours, but it was simply apathetic attendants.

CCrew
07-31-2011, 04:11 PM
One issue with the afternoon trip home is the heat. I'm lucky and can sometimes wait until 7 or 7:30 when the sun is lower. But if you have to be back home earlier, there's going to be no avoiding the peak heat. I'd make sure to have at least two water bottles, if possible, and drink a lot throughout the work day to make sure you're hydrated for the return trip. I was sick hot out there on Friday afternoon, although next week looks a little better.

We're talking riding metro here right? If you substitute the bike for a scalding metro car it's almost just as bad. :D:D:D:D

SerialCarpins
08-01-2011, 02:29 PM
I have to say, I had the same fear when I first tried the trail, and luckily I discovered that the grade is mild enough that you shouldn't have too tough a time...my ride into town is about 43 minutes, my ride home is just under an hour these days...so, obviously I'm moving slower, but luckily since (I believe) these trails started off as railroad tracks, the hills couldn't be too steep. Even though the route home for me on the CCT is about 2.5 miles farther than going directly through the city, I make it home quicker by about 15 minutes because of how hilly the ride through DC is...

Good luck out there! To join the chorus...take it slow, hydrate, enjoy the ride. It's a gorgeous one that I still haven't gotten tired of yet. :D

mstone
08-10-2011, 08:34 AM
if you have a smartphone, google maps has a transit option which you can use as a "find me a way home" option

JeffC
08-10-2011, 02:23 PM
I live in the alternate universe that is Virginia but I second the idea to time the return ride home so you know how long it takes. I did not think it was that far from Bethesda to DC. I wll say that compared with the CCT trail or biking from DC south to Alexandria, biking north along the Custis and W&OD trail is much more challenging physically, at least based on the conversations I have had with others, so count yourself fortunate in that regard.

I have noticed that Metro is not very picky about people getting on with bikes a few minutes before the curfews end. I've seen people try at like 6:45 or 6:40 pm and not get turned away. There is a sweet spot in time when most people have gone home for the day and the trains are still running frequently enough that they are not too crowded, usually around 6:40 to 7:15 or so in my experience.

I've also left my bike at work when there are serious thunderstorms.

karinc
09-01-2011, 11:47 AM
Since I'm going to Silver Spring, I take the S9 Express, but there are probably better buses to Bethesda--if you're not sure how to put the bike on the bus, google bike rack bus or something like that, there are several helpful youtube videos.

I am working up to biking back, though--I did it once and was really worried about the uphill climb, but as someone else said, it really isn't that bad--even for me, who isn't all that in shape either.

americancyclo
09-01-2011, 11:52 AM
google bike rack bus or something like that, there are several helpful youtube videos.


http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eoFFg0W9UME