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bigcheese
05-11-2011, 01:05 PM
My wife and I will be in alexandria on vacation from england and were thinking of cycling to aquia harbor on highway 1 or to leesburg on highway 7.
This ride would be on a sunday so would anyone know how suitable these two roads are for experienced riders

DismalScientist
05-11-2011, 02:13 PM
Neither would be enjoyable. To go to Leesburg, take the W&OD trail, which is paved. For more fun, come back via White's Ferry and the C&O towpath, which is not paved. Although I have not taken it, to go south to Aquia, you may want to look at VA bike route 1, which is essentially the same as the Atlantic Coast bike route from Adventure Cycling. This map may help: www.virginiadot.org/bikemap/

DismalScientist
05-11-2011, 03:55 PM
Besides google, another source of free bicycle mapping (and this one shows VA route 1) is www.opencyclemap.org/

JimF22003
05-12-2011, 09:42 AM
I don't think there is any part of Rt 7 this is suitable for bikes, until maybe you get out past Purcellville. I ride on a very short section of it when I'm doing the climb out of Bluemont up to Blue Ridge Mt Rd (601 where Mt. Weather is). Nasty.

PrintError
05-12-2011, 03:38 PM
I don't think there is any part of Rt 7 this is suitable for bikes, until maybe you get out past Purcellville. I ride on a very short section of it when I'm doing the climb out of Bluemont up to Blue Ridge Mt Rd (601 where Mt. Weather is). Nasty.

I've commuted on it from Tysons to Herndon. It's "bikeable", barely. Honestly it sucks for anything beyond straight up commuting, and even then I only do it when the trail is iced over. Definitely find somewhere else to ride if you want to enjoy it.

PotomacCyclist
05-15-2011, 02:28 PM
Another vote for taking the Washington & Old Dominion Trail (W&OD) from Arlington to Leesburg. You can get to the W&OD from DC via the Custis Trail (some short steep sections) or head south on the Mt. Vernon Trail (MVT), turn onto the Four Mile Trail south of National Airport and ride up to the trail head of W&OD. The connection between Four Mile Run Trail and W&OD is somewhat confusing. You have to turn right onto the sidewalk along S. Shirlington Rd. Then another street crossing over to the W&OD.

Some good online sources for further info:

Google Maps (turn on the Bicycling feature)
Arlington County bike map - http://www.bikearlington.com/
DC interactive map - http://godcgo.com/home/get-me-there/tools-to-get-around/interactive-map.aspx
DC downloadable bike map (http://ddot.dc.gov/DC/DDOT/About+DDOT/Maps/Bike+Map+2010+-+Side+2+-+Entire+City+Side+(31+inches+x+24+inches))
Fairfax County bike map (http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/fcdot/bike/bikemap.htm)

The W&OD has a few intersections with major roads in the eastern part, but once you get past Falls Church and Vienna, there are fewer intersections to deal with. The trail is relatively flat with just a few minor hills. Other than a short detour onto quiet local roads, almost all of the trail is separated from car traffic. Much safer than trying to ride on any major auto routes.

The trail might get crowded in the eastern section on weekends.

***
I've never ridden to Aquia Harbor. (Never even heard of it until this thread.) The Mt. Vernon Trail is a good option for riding from Arlington to the Mt. Vernon Estate. It's particularly nice for visitors as it offers great views of the monuments in DC from across the river. The section north of National Airport can be crowded with families (lots of young children). The trail goes onto calm local roads in Old Town Alexandria but that's a good thing as long as you're not worried about going too fast. A lot of nice history and architecture in that area. (A lot of tourists too!) You may have to ride briefly through a construction zone south of Old Town, around the Woodrow Wilson Bridge. After you turn left from the bridge, the trail goes through less hectic areas. Some hilly sections in the woods until you reach the parking lots at Mt. Vernon.

Unfortunately I don't know about any good cycling routes from Mt. Vernon to Aquia Harbor. Google Maps doesn't list any good bike routes in that area. I don't think either the Richmond Highway or the Jefferson Davis Highway are ideal for cycling.

So my recommendation would be to ride south on the Mt. Vernon Trail to Four Mile Run Trail, turn onto that trail and connect to the W&OD out to Leesburg or beyond. That will be quite a long trip by bike, plenty to keep you occupied on a nice Sunday. There are a few convenience stores along the trail (7-Eleven stores) if you need to restock up on water/sports drink/energy bars.

PotomacCyclist
05-15-2011, 02:29 PM
Sorry, I forgot that you would be starting from Alexandria. In that case, head north along the MVT to Four Mile Run Trail, then over to the W&OD.

bigcheese
05-16-2011, 01:31 PM
Thanks for very sound advice from you all!
It will be the w&od for sure as flat sounds good as we live in a very hilly part of england where flat sections are non-existent

Woody
05-20-2011, 01:19 PM
There are plenty of motels, hotels and B&B's in Leesburg, but if you can go 19 miles further (all but 9 on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail,but use the County roads north of Rt 7, NOT Rt 7 but for the last two miles), you can stay at a wonderful place called at Bears Den hostel in Bluemont, VA on County Rd 601. Viintage building, beautiful view of the Shenandoah Valley, 150 feet from the Appalachian Trail, and low cost bunks (and a few private rooms). WW