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Thread: Route advice - McLean

  1. #1
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    Default Route advice - McLean

    Hi all – Is anyone familiar with the roads in McLean? This weekend I need to go to an address on Carlton Place off Swinks Mill Road just south of Scotts Run Nature Preserve and Georgetown Pike in McLean. This is north of Tyson’s. Starting near Falls Church, it looks like a pretty straight shot via Great Falls Street and Swinks Mill. But are any of these streets safe on a bike?
    Thanks! w&w

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    Quote Originally Posted by wheels&wings View Post
    Hi all – Is anyone familiar with the roads in McLean? This weekend I need to go to an address on Carlton Place off Swinks Mill Road just south of Scotts Run Nature Preserve and Georgetown Pike in McLean. This is north of Tyson’s. Starting near Falls Church, it looks like a pretty straight shot via Great Falls Street and Swinks Mill. But are any of these streets safe on a bike?
    Thanks! w&w
    Great Falls Street becomes Lewinsville Rd. at about the intersection with 123. Once you cross the beltway, Lewinsville Rd. gets steep and kind of narrow. I have ridden it eastbound where you can bomb down the hill at traffic speeds, but not westbound. There is some off-street "infrastructure" on the wrong side of Lewinsville Rd. that may be a good option westbound. Swinks Mill Rd. does not register as popular in the Strava Global Heatmap, but that doesn't mean it's bad, and I have not ridden it.

    Another way to avoid most of the worst of Lewinsville Rd. would be to take Timberly to Huntmaster to Bridle Path to Swinks Mill. Just found that on the map.

    Another option westbound is Westmoreland to Chain Bridge through downtown McLean to Churchill, to Dead Run Rd (not as bad as is sounds) to Georgetown Pike. It's all downhill from the Georgetown Pike beltway crossing to Swinks Mill, although Georgetown Pike is pretty narrow there too.

    Your problem of course, is that you are venturing here into Cartopia. The roads that go anywhere are narrow, windy, and hilly, and otherwise look like the "professional driver on closed course" in the BMW commercial, which of course the BMW (and Lexus and Mercedes, etc.) drivers think they are starring in.

    If bikes weren't banned from the Scotts Run Nature Preserve trails, there would be a nice mountain bike option, but alas.
    Last edited by bentbike33; 09-25-2019 at 10:06 AM.

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  4. #3
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    Thanks tons, bentbike33. I'm happy to climb hills, but yeah - it's the cars that scare me on those narrow and windy roads. I will study your options. Based on the Zillow numbers in that neighborhood, I think you're right that it will be BMWs, Lexus, and Mercedes whipping by me, and maybe a Porsche or two.

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    Lewinsville Road is fine - there is a climb with almost no shoulder up from the beltway, but there is a generous paved path that runs to your left along that section that you can hop on. The right turn on to Swinks Mill is not too far up.

    On the return I would just continue on Swinks Mill all the way down to the bottom and then take a right on Georgetown Pike. There is a good shoulder there, and you can climb up through the beltway interchange and take a right on Balls Hill Road. At the intersection of Balls Hill and Old Dominion, bear left on Old Dominion and take that across 123 and then take a right on Old Chain Bridge in the middle of McLean. Follow that to Westmoreland and take a left and then you know what to do from there

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    Quote Originally Posted by Subby View Post
    Lewinsville Road is fine - there is a climb with almost no shoulder up from the beltway, but there is a generous paved path that runs to your left along that section that you can hop on. The right turn on to Swinks Mill is not too far up.

    On the return I would just continue on Swinks Mill all the way down to the bottom and then take a right on Georgetown Pike. There is a good shoulder there, and you can climb up through the beltway interchange and take a right on Balls Hill Road. At the intersection of Balls Hill and Old Dominion, bear left on Old Dominion and take that across 123 and then take a right on Old Chain Bridge in the middle of McLean. Follow that to Westmoreland and take a left and then you know what to do from there
    For those not covered by the optional death and dismemberment plan, Churchill Road is a nice alternative to Old Dominion from Balls Hill. And it turns into Old Chain Bridge Road in McLean at the light at 123.

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    Huskerdont, Subby, and bentbike33: Thanks so much for your help with these routes. I definitely prefer steep climbs and extra mileage over getting hit, even if by a BMW with good insurance. And I've not yet signed up for the optional death and dismemberment plan.
    So I guess I will try Great Falls St. and then get on the left side after crossing 123 and continue on Lewinsville (left side “infrastructure”) to Swinks Mill … or if it seems dicey I will cross over and try Timberly, Huntmaster and Bridal Path.
    Swinks Mill itself isn’t bad?
    And on the way back I’ll keep going north on Swinks Mill, then right/east on Georgetown Pike (shoulder), right on Balls Hill, left on Churchill (crossing 123, becoming Chain Bridge Rd), and then a left on Westmoreland. Sounds safe-ish?
    Thanks!
    w&w

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    Quote Originally Posted by wheels&wings View Post
    Huskerdont, Subby, and bentbike33: Thanks so much for your help with these routes. I definitely prefer steep climbs and extra mileage over getting hit, even if by a BMW with good insurance. And I've not yet signed up for the optional death and dismemberment plan.
    So I guess I will try Great Falls St. and then get on the left side after crossing 123 and continue on Lewinsville (left side “infrastructure”) to Swinks Mill … or if it seems dicey I will cross over and try Timberly, Huntmaster and Bridal Path.
    Swinks Mill itself isn’t bad?
    And on the way back I’ll keep going north on Swinks Mill, then right/east on Georgetown Pike (shoulder), right on Balls Hill, left on Churchill (crossing 123, becoming Chain Bridge Rd), and then a left on Westmoreland. Sounds safe-ish?
    Thanks!
    w&w
    Lewinsville does not get narrow until after Timberly, in fact there is a right-turn lane for Timberly starting just after the beltway bridge (which has bike lanes), so I would go that way rather than crossing back and forth over Lewinsville. There is also a paved off-road trail next to west-bound Lewinsville between about Windy Hill Rd. (last light before beltway) and the betway bridge. Lewinsville can be busy on Saturdays because of the nearby Spring Hill Rec center and its vast tracts of soccer fields.

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    I have never ventured outside the Beltway in that area, but inside, Great Falls and Balls Hill are okay, Westmoreland is good, and Churchill is a neighborhood thoroughfare with a low speed limit. Chain Bridge just has a lot of shopping center and business park entrances with all the hazards those present, but people are generally not driving that fast.

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    Quote Originally Posted by wheels&wings View Post
    Hi all – Is anyone familiar with the roads in McLean? This weekend I need to go to an address on Carlton Place off Swinks Mill Road just south of Scotts Run Nature Preserve and Georgetown Pike in McLean. This is north of Tyson’s. Starting near Falls Church, it looks like a pretty straight shot via Great Falls Street and Swinks Mill. But are any of these streets safe on a bike?
    Thanks! w&w
    How did this work out, if you don't mind my asking?

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    Quote Originally Posted by huskerdont View Post
    How did this work out, if you don't mind my asking?
    She talked about it on Strava a little but the main issue was that, unbeknownst to me at least, Swinks Mill is closed between Old Dominion and Georgetown Pike.

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