When Conte’s Hill Ride was canceled, we decided to venture south and take our bikes to Prince William Forest National Park. Although I’ve lived here all my life, I’ve never been to this park, even though it’s less than an hour away–probably 30 minutes if you can make it down 95S without traffic. Is that even possible?
Cycling In Prince William Forest
The main place to ride is on Scenic Drive, which is a 7 mile loop of shared road. That said, about half the loop has broad bike lanes and traffic on the other half was light and respectful of bikes. After all, they were driving in the heart of a national park with a 25 or 35 mph speed limit.
We rode the loop twice in each direction. The hills were harder in the clockwise direction, but the counterclockwise direction seemed to have longer steady climbs, so both directions were challenging in their own way.
Nothing compared to the hardest hills on the Conte’s route!
The shady scenery and quiet surroundings made for a lovely ride on a hot summer day, but that 95S traffic will keep this from becoming a regular ride for us.
My husband didn’t care that our ride was 27.7 miles but I wanted that 0.3!
Cycling To Lake Needwood
Since I chose our ride Saturday, I let my husband decide where to ride on Sunday. He opted for Rock Creek Park–a national park in the heart of Washington, D.C.–where Beach Drive is closed to cars on weekends. I don’t like this ride because the section on the path is narrow and bumpy (darn tree roots!), but the promise of shade won me over.
The route from my office (where we parked) to the north end of Rock Creek Park is about 10 miles, but when we got to the end, I spotted a sign for Rock Creek Trail that kept going and promised “Lake Needwood” in only 14 more miles.
I had lost my freaking mind it was such a nice day, I asked my husband if we could keep going.
We continued on Rock Creek Trail, which was a paved path similar to the path at the south end of Rock Creek Park. At one point, we saw cyclists on the adjacent road, and cut over to join them. At a stop light I asked a cyclist if there really was a lake a few more miles on. He said yes, but noted that road would end before then. We cut back over to the trail, and encountered the most challenging part of the ride–although the one hard hill was only hard on the way back.
This compact elevation profile makes it look much harder than it was.
I didn’t notice the steady climb on the way out–
although I did notice the downhill on the way home.
Finally, we got to Lake Needwood!
The major fail of this trip is that we hadn’t planned to ride this far, and so hadn’t brought enough snacks to properly refuel. I had one package of peanut butter crackers I shared with my husband, but those 100 calories were not enough!
Another fail of this trip is that I had not charged my Garmin after Saturday’s ride, so it died a mile in. Luckily I noticed almost right away, and turned on the Strava app which amazingly was able to track this long ride without completely draining my phone’s battery.
This is another ride that we are not likely to repeat because the path is so bumpy! Despite wearing padded shorts and using chamois cream, my lady parts were hating me for days!
Do you live near any national parks?