Posted October 25th, 2012
Washington, DC is unique in its conception. Witness this excerpt concerning its pending design, written by French city planner Pierre L’Enfant to his boss, George Washington. The plan should be drawn on such a scale as to leave room for that aggrandizement and embellishment which the increase of the wealth of the nation will permit it to pursue at any period however remote.
Well, here we are in sufficiently distant 2011, and it would seem the wealth of this nation is bringing it full circle of sorts. Could you ever have thought that aggrandizement and embellishment of your grandly planned capital might include bicycle lanes, Pierre? And what say you to a book comprised of bicycling routes throughout the area you once surveyed and had carved fresh from forest some 220 years ago?
As it should be, DC is hard at work becoming a model for safe, path-breaking bicycling throughout the country. In a way, in fact, DC is being reconceived. As of this writing on National Bike to Work Day, America’s Main Street and L’Enfant’s grandest avenue, Pennsylvania, is in the process of being striped for bikes, right down its middle!
What perfect timing, then, for a book crammed full of regional rides. After all, your grandma’s pedaling to the grocery store now. Your son’s saving up for a fixie. And Google’s begun mapping routes for us all. So seeing as your bike’s lubed and tubed again, you need places to go, right?
Well, they’ll be spread clear across L’Enfant’s entire 100-square-mile diamond, and beyond, upwards of 60 of them, distributed throughout the greater DC area on into Virginia horse country and the farmlands of Maryland. They’ll skirt the Chesapeake and brush the Potomac. From safe paths directly down your street to challenging adventures on the other side of the city, from historic routes through revived neighborhoods, to brand-spanking-new stream valley trails on the region’s outskirts, from established classics around The Capital’s world-famous sites to rides traversing its freshly-minted bicycle lanes.
And the book will speak to all levels of cyclists as well. Its 5-stage beginner to experienced rating system will encourage novices in their efforts at becoming fully-forged masters of the craft. When you take off for a ride, you’ll know what to expect, too. The photos will have long-since inspired you, and you’ll be in the care of detailed maps, with hill profiles and precise directions. As your intrepid author will have been there before, you’ll know exactly what to bring, where to grab that bite to eat, and what sorts of excitement you can plan on encountering along your way.
Oh yes, as this is a family-centered book, it also includes 39 car-free rides for kids!
About the Author
In the early fall of 2007, (a year bicycling in the U.S. again reached some kind of tipping point as gas hit whatever regional peak it reached a gallon, and suddenly, the old iron horse seemed to speak to just about every ill society had to throw its way), a journeyman with undergraduate degrees from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and a Master’s in Journalism from the University of Florida, landed a job helping map a 3000-mile cycling route down the Eastern Seaboard.
He’d bicycled for years before then, commuting 15 of those, but the feeling which quickly settled over him on that ride was unprecedented.
Documenting the progress of the ambitious East Coast Greenway trail project and sending back dispatches from cycling’s future, he knew, as slow as he was traveling, he was actually way out in front of the pack, catching the freshest air.
Somehow the ride inside that slipstream remains unbroken, and it’s been one, long, windblown downhill for Matt Wittmer ever since. In just those few short years, he’s grown from enthusiast to advocate to author.
Jump on your bike, DC, and join him on the greater DC area’s greatest rides. This promises to be his first, and best, book.