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Thread: Custis Trail vs. Wilson Blvd/Fairfax Dr?

  1. #1
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    Default Custis Trail vs. Wilson Blvd/Fairfax Dr?

    I've been riding west on the Custis from Rosslyn and taking Fairfax Dr. and Wilson Blvd back east for my return commute for a while now. I got to thinking about alternate commutes to switch things up and also about which route is more efficient heading west? Taking Wilson Blvd and Fairfax Dr. gets pretty much all of the climbing out of the way smoothly and early and doesn't have any of the short, steep climbs like the Custis does (looking at you, section between the switchback to get over Lee Highway and the overpass past N Vernon St.). Obvious downsides of Wilson and Fairfax vs. the Custis are lights and car doors but there aren't any other trail users (runners etc.) to worry about on Wilson and Fairfax Dr.

    According to Google, taking the Custis to N Veitch then onto Wilson, Fairfax, and then to the Custis again has about 226 feet of climbing and 52 feet of descending. Taking the Custis the whole way has 279 feet of climbing and 105 feet of descending.

    Seems like it might be a six in one hand half a dozen in the other type scenario. Times may be about the same but perhaps my legs won't be as tired when I hit the W&OD if I elect to take Wilson. Any ideas on what might be the best choice? Any other routes I should evaluate? I ride from DC out to West Falls Church.

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    I live in Falls Church and commute to Courthouse every day. I rarely take the Custis trail all the way in or out. On the way out, I usually take Key Blvd to 15th Street and get on the Custis at Vermont (the reverse of this is also my usual commute to work). This route has two climbs, but they are not quite as punchy as the climbs on the trail. If I am really tired and do not want any hills on the way home, I just take Wilson to FFX to the trail.

    I am sure some other folks will chime in with some additional options as well.

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    baiskeli's Avatar
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    When I'm not recovering from a damned foot injury (almost there) I also avoid the Custis this way. I often take Key Blvd. instead of Wilson between Fairfax Dr. and Veitch St. No lights and low traffic.

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    Steve O's Avatar
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    I'm probably the wrong person to ask, because there were many days I would get home and not recall actually riding up the two sisters (which is what those two hills by the I-66 parking deck are informally called).
    If you want to skip just those, you can exit at Quincy, go straight across onto 15th, continue to Vermont or Vernon, then left back to the trail. It's still uphill, but a gradual rise rather than a roller coaster. (Trivia: just before you turn left at the top of the western sister to go over the Glebe Road exit ramp is the highest point on the Custis Trail: 305 feet)
    Some people also find this variation more pleasant than riding alongside I-66 under the parking deck--noisy and polluted--probably the most unpleasant section along the entire trail.

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    Lee Highway is the only way.

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    For my East Falls church to Rosslyn commute I primarily use three routes. Which one I take on a particular day depends on my mood.

    1. Custis all the way to W&OD

    2. Wilson/Clarendon Blvd <-> Fairfax Dr <-> Custis <-> W&OD

    3. Key Blvd <-> N. Jackson <-> N. 13th <-> N. Quincy <-> sidestreets (primarily N. 11th St.) to N Wakefield <-> Custis (this is the westbound version - eastbound I do it a little differently)

    Unlike other posters, I cannot humble brag that I just don't notice hills. For me, #2 seems like it has the least rolling up-and-down to it. #3 has some steep spots.

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    If you really want to cut out hills, and don't mind the extra distance or riding on 10th, you could do Rte 50 Trail (north/west side*) --> 10th --> Fairfax

    * We really need better names for our trails.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Subby View Post
    Lee Highway is the only way.
    For those who don't mind busy traffic and want to make sure they don't ride any uphill segments with double digit grades.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dasgeh View Post
    If you really want to cut out hills, and don't mind the extra distance or riding on 10th, you could do Rte 50 Trail (north/west side*) --> 10th --> Fairfax

    * We really need better names for our trails.
    We could call that the "upstream" side and the other one the "downstream" side, like we do with bridge sidepaths. That would be totally and completely clear to everyone, I'm sure.

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    dasgeh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve O View Post
    We could call that the "upstream" side and the other one the "downstream" side, like we do with bridge sidepaths. That would be totally and completely clear to everyone, I'm sure.
    And yet unlike the Potomac*, Rte 50 flows in both directions.

    * I know the Potomac is tidal, but it basically flows into the Bay.

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