Monday, October 04, 2010

Retrograde

I'm pretty sure I was the only motorcyclist heading from the piedmont to the suburbs to go riding on such a beautiful Sunday morning. It was a classic fall morning, cool and crisp, with broken grey clouds hugging the horizon while they massed their forces for a late-afternoon assault. Outbound bike traffic was steady and constant, and included some relative exotics, including a beautiful Moto Guzzi, along with the usual assortment of sportbiker and hog herders. I think I even saw my first S1000rr, but it went past so quickly...

The point of my retrograde mission was to help BroT inaugurate his new 2003 R1150r. New to him, it's a low-mileage beauty fully equipped with everything you need to have an outstanding riding experience. We met at his house, giving me the opportunity to watch him don his also-new custom Roadcrafter suit-in fluorescent yellow. The suit, combined with his strobing brakelight, nearly sent me into epileptic convulsions as I rode behind him. But the bright sunlight helped overcome the dazzling suit/brakelight combo, and we were on our way.

We left Falls Church and wound our way through McLean, stopping in downtown McLean to gas up before heading north. We hopped on the beltway and wound the bikes out for a short sprint, savoring the thrill of the superslab oh-so-briefly, before exiting to the Clara Barton Parkway towards Great Falls.

I must say, as odd or counterintuitive as it may have seemed to leave the piedmont and head into the suburbs to go riding, it was a kind of homecoming for me. When I worked in town, by lunchtime most days I was ready to get out of the building and screw my head back on straight with a short-but-spirited ride, a condensed road trip that could be shoehorned into a workday.

These were some of my favorite riding roads for a quick out-and-back when I only had an hour or so to spend riding, and I hadn't ridden some of them in years. As we approached MacArthur boulevard, I knew immediately we would be turning left to ride the short-but-sweet, winding stretch of road from Old Angler's Inn-an ascending stretch of sinuous curves that allow you to gently accelerate all the way from bottom to top, and coast all the way on the return.

At the very moment we stopped to turn around, just short of the entrance to Great Falls, a peloton of cyclists launched themselves onto our return path; BroT and I fell in behind them obediently, to the amusement of some of the riders-"Hey, we get a motorcycle escort!" But they rode well, kept their speed up, and I coasted behind them without gaining or falling behind until we reached the bottom of the hill.

We parted ways with the peloton when they swooped onto Clara Barton and we continued on MacArthur, where shortly after, we paused in the warm midday sun for a styrofoam cup of coffee from the local quikee mart. We talked about our bikes (R1150r's, matched for all intents and purposes) and about riding, and watched the traffic pass-bicyclists and pedestrians, joggers with strollers, agitated car-drivers on their cellphones.

The dregs of the coffee watered the shrubs, and we were on the road again. MacArthur, Clara Barton, Chain Bridge, Kirby, Glebe, Williamsburg-all the old familiar traces, made new again. Through an odd set of circumstances, lunch became barbecue in the old neighborhood, signifying this was indeed a bona fide ride, because after all, what is a ride without barbecue?

We returned to BroT's, parked the bikes, and endulged in the obligatory post-ride tire-kicking and self-congratulations. Much discussion of this-and-what, hows-and-whys, what's good and what isn't, then all of a sudden, the sun is heading west-and so must I.

Such a small and quiet moment; yet it's hard to find words to express its immense import. Looking forward to many more such miles, well spent.

1 comment:

Tom said...

It was indeed a fun ride, and I appreciated your route selection, gentle riding technique, the coffee & conversation. I look forward to more of the same!
BroT