In my second spinning class which came just a day and a half after my first spinning class, I decided to ignore the instructor and pedal at my own pace. That was easy since the music was so loud that I could not hear her anyway. I did stand and sit when others did so as not to be rude.
But, in my mind’s eye, I retraced the 20-plus mile route I know so well from my Georgetown house along Que Street and into Rock Creek Park. I went up and down hills, passed the outdoor gym equipment, under bridges, behind the zoo where the Panda cub just died, past the mill and onto Beach Drive (closed to traffic on weekends). In awhile, I came to another piece of road that runs beside the creek and is shaded by a grand urban forest whose tree leaves must now be changing color, and past the rest rooms at the picnic sites (they probably have not yet been locked for the season). Then comes the long downhill where my speed could get to be 19 or 20 miles an hour before leveling out again to pass playing fields, tennis courts, residential cul-de-sacs.
The next bit is a hard slog on roads past undistinguished Maryland suburb houses, the Big Wheel bike shop and the fancy dry cleaner who could net rectify the damage done to Cousin Minnie’s 19th century capes, hats, skirts and bathing suit in the flood in the Kennel House, and across the East-West Highway with the help of a traffic light. The trail is dirt and gravel as it passes through the country club golf course on what’s called the Georgetown Branch in honor of an out-of-use railway. A Whole Foods affords a chance to demount, pee and buy whatever groceries will fit in my backpack for the final leg. After a long tunnel, the path arrives in Bethesda at the Barnes and Noble and the start of the Capital Crescent Trail.
It’s mostly downhill from here but more complicated to ride since people are pushing strollers, walking dogs or biking too fast. I had not noticed the coincidence that a tunnel on the trail is called Dalecarlia just like the ugly intersection in Wakefield until I was taking this imaginary ride. Both were named around the turn of the 19th (to 20th) century for a Swedish resort that must have been popular with Americans at the time. In recent years, the trail has come to a polished, hard-scaped end in the Georgetown Waterfront Park.
I miss that ride. I did it most weekends for many years. Any non-spinning bike rides of consequence in Rhode Island require putting my bike on the back of the car for the first leg. No simple pedaling past the garden gate to embark in DC.
While the spinning class doesn’t hold a candle to an outing through Rock Creek, it does exercise the big muscles in my legs. And in 45 minutes indoors, I can review a two-hour outdoor ride. It’s a time saver! My apologies to any readers who made it this far. All the images are in my head.