Bike the Sites Blog
Blog posts from Bike and Roll DC
By: Rachel Cannon
Like most kids from a good suburban upbringing, I learned to ride a bike early. It was my favorite pastime through the end of high school, but I was never especially serious about it—it was just an easy way to get around the neighborhood because I never owned a car. When I came to American University in 2006, I didn't even think to bring my bike with me. I relied on public transportation, I never went anywhere much beyond the Red Line, and I was scared of any quadrant that wasn't Northwest because we were taught as freshmen that DC was pretty dangerous.
Around the end of my sophomore year, in 2008, I saw a job posting for tour guides at Bike and Roll. I was already a tour guide on our college campus, and the thought of riding a bike around the National Mall—and getting paid to do it—sounded awesome. I've never been particularly athletic, and my friends expressed concern that the job might be too hard for me, especially given that I didn't own a bike.
So, not knowing anything at all about bikes, I went to Target and purchased a $40 red Magna mountain bike. I remember taking it off the Metro that night and riding it home from Tenleytown—on the sidewalks, of course, because I was scared of the roads. During my interview with Bike and Roll, I made a point of telling them about my new purchase. To my great surprise, I got the job—and I didn't even need my own bike!
During my first training shift, I fell madly in love with the Bike and Roll bikes—the Trek hybrids were fifty times better than anything I had ever ridden. I never knew that biking could be so fun! The Mall is totally flat, so riding around it was a breeze.
The real challenge was getting to and from work. Metro was getting expensive, so one day, I pulled out my little red Magna. Bike and Roll is downtown, and I lived up near the Cathedral, and Massachusetts Avenue, the main connecting street, is a GIANT hill. The ride to work was great—the ride home was next-to-impossible. My first couple of times biking up it, I wound up walking my bike most of the way, and the third time, I got so exhausted that I fell off my bike.
Gradually, I got better at conquering that hill, and after a couple of weeks, I could ride up it without stopping. That summer, my boss at Bike and Roll helped me purchase my first "big girl bike"—a Trek women's specific 7.2 FX, much like the hybrids at Bike and Roll, and that made the commute much easier. Before long, I was biking everywhere. I realized that between two tours a day and my commute, I rode about 22 miles each work day—but that wasn't enough for me. On my days off, I explored the trails around DC, venturing up to Great Falls via the C&O towpath, rode to Mount Vernon and back, rode around DC, rode around Alexandria, explored the Capital Crescent Trail, and loved every minute of it. My love for the city and the surrounding areas grew exponentially—in fact, a couple of years ago, a friend and I biked around the perimeter of DC, which is shaped like a diamond. I've literally seen every corner of the city on a bike!
Today, I work for DC's local bike advocacy group—the Washington Area Bicyclist Association (WABA), and I install bicycle racks for the city. Remember how I said I was never really athletic? Part of my job today involves hauling power tools and a generator around town on a bike trailer. Biking is a huge part of my life, and whether I'm working or not, you can find me around the city on a bike every day of the year, in whatever weather.
It's been five years since I started as a tour guide, and I still give tours with Bike and Roll—what's more, I still love it. Aside from being obsessed with bikes, I'm also obsessed with DC history. Showing off this city to newcomers is a delight, and to me, it's even better when it happens on bicycles. A 70-year-old grandmother once commented after a tour that she felt like a kid again, and I've seen otherwise begrudging teenagers manage to crack a smile or two as the wind whips through their hair (under a helmet, of course). When I tell people that the best way to see DC is by bicycle, it's not because Bike and Roll pays me to do it—it's because I firmly believe it!
Time for another Monday morning edition of our special "Meet Our Team" series! We hope you enjoyed last week's nod to a Mr. Jeffrey Holliday. Today we're highlighting a wonderful Bike and Roll gal who's one of our fabulous rental staff and soon-to-be Segway tour guide: Rachel Bell! We hope you all enjoy learning a little bit more about Rachel as she shares her DC knowledge!
Name: Rachel Bell
Favorite bike ride in DC? It's not technically in DC, but I love riding my bike around Alexandria. There's less traffic than DC, but it's just as pretty, if not more so.
Favorite neighborhood in DC? Foggy Bottom! Gotta represent my GW.
Favorite restaurant in DC? Wok and Roll, in Chinatown- the house it's in was the house Lincoln's assassination was planned in (I'm a big history buff), and their noodles are amazing!
Best local tip about DC? If you're here for more than a day or two and don't want to rent a bike (you should!), it's worth investing in a Smartrip card. You'll save so much money and it's easier than having to dig through your bag for a little paper card.
Favorite Monument/Memorial in DC? The World War II Memorial. You're not supposed to put your feet in the pool but it's nice to go at night and just sit there.
Favorite park in DC? The Constitution Gardens, on the Mall. It's quiet and beautiful.
Favorite museum in DC? The Air and Space Museum. I've gone and stared at Amelia Earhart's plane for hours.
The thing I love most about DC is that even though I've been here for years, I still find something new to surprise me all the time.
Happy Monday, folks!
I'm glad you could join us as we kick off a new segment here on our blog today; it's called, "Meet Our Team"! We'd like to give you a behind-the-scenes look at the fantastic people who make up the Bike and Roll Washington DC staff. Within these surveys, our featured team member will be able to share all of their favorite details about DC with all of you! Today's lucky guy is Jeffrey Holliday, the Operations Manager here at Bike and Roll.
Name: Jeffrey Holliday
Favorite bike ride in DC? There's an old Formula One race track right next to RFK stadium. I've been told that the first race held there was so loud that the neighborhood complained and no races have been held there since. I have no idea if that's true. Anyhow, now it's used as a parking lot. However, if you get there early in the morning no one's parked yet and you can do some laps as the sun is coming up. I've only done this a few times, but every time is a pleasure.
Favorite neighborhood in DC? I live in Mt. Pleasant, which is pretty ridiculously nice.
Favorite restaurant in DC? The Raven Grille?
Best local tip about DC? Eat breakfast, not brunch. Brunch frays the moral fabric of our society. Also, it's crowded.
Favorite Monument/Memorial in DC? The Joan of Arc statue in Meridian Hill Park: "At the terrace overlook, one may view the beautiful statue of Joan of Arc -- the only equestrian statue of a woman in Washington, D.C. Joan of Arc is a bronze copy of the Paul Dubois statue which sits before the Cathedral of Rheims in France. The statue was given by the Ladies of France in Exile in New York and dedicated to the Nation on January 6, 1922. In attendance at the dedication were First Lady Mrs. Warren G. Harding and Mrs. Jules Jusserand, wife of the French Ambassador to the United States"-http://www.nps.gov/mehi/historyculture/places.htm
Favorite park in DC? East Potomac Park. Public pool with a view of the Washington Monument? Yes please.
Favorite museum in DC? American Art Museum. For many reasons, but mostly because of Duan Hanson's sculpture, Woman Eating.
The thing I loved most about DC is the cosmic geometry.
For those of you who don't know her by name, Nikki Marks is a huge part of Bike and Roll's history and continued success, and we all want to wish her the happiest of birthdays today! It seems rather serendipitous that today be Earth day, as we can't think of anyone who better exemplifies the true message and intention behind this day than Nikki! (This gal loves Mother Earth!)
HAPPY BIRTHDAY, NIKKI!
So, we know it may not feel much like spring today, but it HAS to come at some point! (Right??) Well, when it does, we've got you covered! Here's a list of our very favorite DC Spring activities to look forward to...
What is warm weather without a little baseball? Us Washingtonians are avid sports fans, and nothing beats an afternoon of beer and ball on a warm April weekend! And, lucky for you, we have a special promo for you guys to take advantage of this season: enter discount code "STONE" (Courtesy of George Stone, Washington Nationals Baseball Club) to receive special rates on tickets! You're welcome. ;-)
2. Rooftop and Outdoor Dining
Dining al fresco has become something of an institution here in our nation's capital. And the reason for that is pretty simple: Food + being outdoors = awesome. Here's a great list of outdoor dining options in the DC area!
Screen on the Green
3. Outdoor Movies
Charming, romantic, relaxing-- watching your favorite flick on a blanket under the stars is something everyone should experience! Springtime kicks off outdoor film season, and DC has plenty of options to choose from. (Our favorites happen to be NOMA Summer Screen and Screen on the Green.)
Who doesn't love food trucks? And what's better than a marriage of food trucks and street festivals? (Not much!) Get your street grub on with Truckeroo, a monthly food truck festival that takes place near the Navy Yard Metro station.
It may seem obvious, but c'mon! We can't help being giddily excited by the prospect of warmer weather! Bike rides are all the more enjoyable with the sights, smells, and feeling of Spring! Don't have a bicycle to properly celebrate? Rent one from us and head off on your two-wheeled journey into Spring!
Now there is an even easier way to get to our Alexandria shop! Capital Bikeshare broke ground this week on eight new bikeshare stations for downtown Alexandria. Visitors to Alexandria can now take a Capital Bikeshare bike from Braddock Road or King Street metro down to Old Town, dock the bike, then hop on a Bike and Roll hyrbid to explore the Mount Vernon trail! Excellent for short trips, Capital Bikeshare bikes are perfect for getting from one location to another. Bikeshare in Alexandria is anticipated to be finished by the end of September.
The free King Street Trolley is still a great alternative, though the trolley has limited hours (11:30am to 10:15pm).
After weeks of plotting and scheming, the Bike and Roll marketing department finally made the trip up to Brookville, MD to visit the litter of puppies of the Warrior Canine Connection, a therapeutic service dog training program that teaches service members with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) the skill of training mobility service dogs to be partnered with veterans with mobility impairments. The six golden retriever pups gained massive popularity this year through their live puppy cam on Explore.org (which may or may not be book marked by everyone in the Bike and Roll DC office).
Though we haven't quite figured out how to incorporate puppies into our business model, after a bit of googling we think we may have found the answer:
This week a member of the Bike and Roll DC marketing team made a trip out to the west coast, making sure to stop at Bike and Roll San Francisco along the way! The always friendly staff set us up on the familiar comfort hybrid bikes, and we were ready to hit the city. Per usual, biking was the way to go! We pedaled around Fisherman's Warf, across the Golden Gate Bridge, grabbed some lunch in Sausalito, and meandered back to town through the old forts in Presidio, a beautiful park on the north side of the city.
After 20 plus miles of biking, we finished the day with a well deserved Nob Hill Ghiradelli milkshake. It was lovely to take a break from DC's humid summer. Thanks Bike and Roll San Fran! We'll be back!
The heat is no reason to put your DC plans on hold! Bike and Roll guided tours are still the best way to see the sites and monuments, no matter the temperature. Here are the top 5 reasons to hop on a bike tour this summer:
1. Early Birds: Hop on our 9:30am Monuments tour (offered Friday to Monday, June 22 - August 20) and experience Washington DC before the sun is high in the sky. Our 10am Capital Sites tour leaves daily from our National Mall location.
2. Catch a Breeze: Enjoy a cool breeze as you pedal along the flat sidewalks of the National Mall. Biking is much easier then walking, bringing you from site to site in a fraction of the time it takes to walk. That means less time standing under the sun and more time enjoying the sites.
3. Made in the Shade: Our tour guides know the National Mall inside and out, and so are familiar with all of the shady spots. Tours will take every chance to stop under a shady tree. The stone ceilings of many of the monuments also provide cool shelter.
4. Quick Trip: Rent a Bike and Roll bike by the hour instead of the full day ($7/hr, 2 hour minimum). Take the bike for a couple hours in the morning or the evening. Avoid the sun and crowds by taking advantage of our off-peak hours (open 9am to 9pm throughout the summer).
5. Sweet Treat: Finish your tour with a refreshing "Icee" Pop! New this season, cruise back to the Bike and Roll shop and slurp on a frozen treat before going on your merry way.
"Soo glad we rented bikes!"
"It was like 100 degrees outside and instead of hiking all over the mall, we were able to quickly ride from site to site... We were able to see all of the monuments and memorials in two hours! Plus, the breeze while riding was great. Jeff provided great service and I'd recommend this experience for everyone. I actually wish I could just rent a bike for the week and ride from museum to museum. It would sure beat walking in this heat. . ." - Alison, Austin TX, July 2012 (TripAdvisor.com)
No one knows Washington DC better then the Washington Area Concierge Association (WACA), a membership group of concierge and affiliates from the best hotels in the city. Always on the look-out for the best activities, we had the pleasure of hosting a group of WACA members who came to experience our tour for themselves. Now concierge can recommend our tours with first hand testimonials! We offer free tours to concierge throughout the year so they can learn more about Bike and Roll and brush up on their knowledge on the sites of the National Mall.
Ask your concierge about the $5 off Guest coupons cards available in most DC hotels!
Today at 10:00am President Obama will speak at the groundbreaking of the new National Museum of African American History and Culture, set to open by November 2015. Adjacent to the Washington Monument, the new museum's mission is to interpret the complex narrative arc of the black experience in America. The museum will be the 19th Smithsonian museum.
Other attendees will include first lady Michelle Obama, former first lady Laura Bush, Smithsonian Secretary G. Wayne Clough, and the museum's found director Lonnie G. Bunch. The event is invitation only but will be streamed live on the museum's website.
Found on AutoblogGreen
Volkswagon of America representatives at the Washington Auto Show last Thursday announced their partnership with Colorado based People for Bikes, an organization committed to creating safe biking communities nation wide. Volkswagon's sponsorship includes financial funding as well as the donation of vehicles to support advocay programs and urban planning initiatives.
"Volkswagen's commitment to environmental sustainability extends beyond our fuel-efficient vehicles and company practices," said Jonathan Browning, president and CEO, Volkswagen Group of America. "We are extremely proud to be partnering with Bikes Belong to encourage biking and ensure that people of all ages can safely share the road, saving fuel and reducing pollution and traffic congestion."
The sponsorship is part of VW's new Think Blue Initiative, which works to promote eco-conscious behavior and green initiatives.
Looking for a job with a laid back atmosphere, enthusiastic fellow staffers and plenty of sunshine? Bike and Roll Washington DC is hiring for this spring! We are looking for tour guides, mechanics, assistant managers, and rental staff! Please visit our Employment page for job descriptions and instructions on applying. Know someone who might be interested? Direct them here!
It's finally starting to feel like winter here in Washington DC, but that doesn't mean the end of biking! Though our downtown DC location in Federal Triangle is now closed through March, our Union Station Bikestation will be open year round, Monday through Friday from 7:00am to 7:00pm (Closed December 24th to January 2). Our Old Town, Alexandria shop is also closed until spring 2012.
Thank you to everyone who came and visited us this year, we hope you enjoyed our tours and rentals as much as we liked giving them! As we put our new fleet together for the spring season, we'll be dreaming of summer bike rides as we shiver in the garage. Keep up with the latest on our Facebook page or follow us on Twitter!
-Bike and Roll Washington DC Team 2011
Bicyclists around the world are generally an environmentally conscious bunch, so I shouldn't have been surprised when my search for "recycled bike art" came up with furniture, jewelry, bags and even a few nude sculptures. Found on Inhabit.com, sculptor Seo Young Deok created these larger than life nude sculptures entirely from bicycle chains. The display is titled "Dystopia" and is on display at the INSA/Arko Art Gallery in Soeul.
Seo Young Doek - "Dystopia"
Can you spot the "upcycled" bike parts in this CB2 catelog?
After purchasing your new bike from Bike and Roll's fall bike sale, you will surely start wondering where to ride. We suggest you pick up a copy of the metropolitan region’s newest and most comprehensive cycling guidebook, Where to Bike Washington D.C. ($25) at our bike sale or at Bike and Roll’s Union Station location. Packed with 55 easy to epic rides for adults, state-of-the-art GPS-produced maps, and oodles of information from food and drink options to interesting side trips, it also details an unprecedented 39 safe rides for kids.
Wittmer first cycled the nation’s capital while helping map portions of the East Coast Greenway trail from Calais, Maine to Key West, Florida. And after two years of teaching and travel in South America, he returned and picked up where he left off, finding safe, fun places for cyclists to ride.
A note from the author:
“Any book is a labor of love to its subject and Where to Bike, Washington DC is no exception. My subject was, of course, cycling in the nation’s capital, and I was fortunate enough to be exploring it at a time when interest in biking, and rapid advancements in its infrastructure, were both at all-time highs.
What area rider could be more privileged? It was one of the best experiences of my life, and one I did with wheels to the ground in hopes of finding fun, exciting rides for regional cyclists of all levels. Being able to ride my bicycle, not only to work, but for work, was the year-and-a-half long project’s highlight. In this book I map my way over thousands of miles throughout three states and share the natural beauty and pleasant roads and trails the greater D.C. area has to offer its cycling enthusiasts.”
-Matt Wittmer, October 2011
Starting on November 3rd, Capital Bikeshare will adjust its casual membership passes from $5 to $7 a day for the one day pass, and $15 for the three day pass. The five day pass will no longer exist, due to further research into average stay of visitors to the downtown metro DC area.
Additionally, the hourly fees will increase by 33%. The first half hour will remain free, the second half-hour will increase to $2, and each subsequent half-hour will cost $8.
According to their press release, "The pricing changes affecting casual users are being implemented due to the expansion in the District and Arlington and the accompanying increase in cost to operate and maintain the system. The anticipated increase in revenue will allow Capital Bikeshare to maintain and improve its level of service and continue to build on all of the success of the first year."
So this isn't exactly a situation we have to worry about here in Washington DC, (African antelope tend to leave tourists alone) but it just goes to show you never know! We especially enjoyed the slow motion sequence towards the end.
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