Yesterday was June 16th. Sunny. Warm. Saturday. The much-anticipated Tour de Fat DC was here! This was a day for our Bromptons to shine. We folded them up, put them in the car, and drove to Greenbelt Metro. It was my first time to take the Brompton on Metro, and it went fine. We partially unfolded the bikes to wheel them into the station. They fit through the gates and on the train this way, though it’s easier to use the wider gates than the regular narrow ones. Within about 40 minutes we were at the Navy Yard Station, having collected some admiring comments about our great bikes on the trip in. Not knowing the neighborhood, we weren’t sure of how to get to Navy Yard Park, the site of the Tour. With directions from another Brompton admirer, we rode there in a minute or two. Though valet parking was available, we couldn’t manage to spot it and ended up like many others locking our bikes to a handy fence.
The beautiful Navy Yard park is right on the Potomac. It provided the perfect venue for this pure fun event. Having decided not to rush, we arrived after the opening parade, but still saw cyclists in great costumes and took in some terrific performances. These included Batala Washington DC, a women’s Afro-Brazilian/Samba-Reggae percussion band (awesome!) and a hilariously melodramatic contest to win a Fat Tire Cruiser. We of course bought tokens so we could have a Fat Tire beer, after showing ID to prove we were of legal drinking age. That was one of two times I’ve been carded in the past 6 years or so.
This festival was all about bikes, innovation, eco-awareness, creativity, fun and play. John and I took turns looking through an amazing kaleidoscope pointed at the river. It was constructed to turn slowly in the wind. The colorful shapes inside were either shaped like or made from bicycle accessories. Within a bike corral was a strange and inspired collection of bikes. As if someone let their imaginations run wild in response to a sentence starter “What if there was a bike that…” The sentence was variously completed with … had tires made of old running shoes; …was a side-by-side tandem; …was a tandem on which one person rides facing forward and the other facing-and pedaling backward; …had a teeny-tiny frame and wheels; …was a recumbent you could spin around in? People were riding these contraptions, laughing as they worked to master these odd machines.
Vendors sold beer cozies, Tour de Fat Gear, and promoted local bike shops. The only food booth sold ‘handmade hotdogs’ but by 2:30, opting for a more substantial lunch, we rode over to 8th St NE and enjoyed fish tacos, a grilled cheese sandwich, fries and lots of water (it was hot out there!) on Lola’s Barracks Bar’s patio. A shout out to the very nice man at Capitol Hill Bikes. He noticed us looking for (nonexistent) bike parking racks and offered to shelter our Bromptons while we dined. I noticed some great looking Bianchi commuter bikes there, and a good selection of accessories.
Next on the agenda: DuPont Circle’s Kramer’s Books and Afterwords. Not being entirely certain of a direct route there, detoured an extra half-mile or so behind Union Station into NoMa. The thought was to avoid the torn up Columbus Circle/Mass Ave mess. We avoided it alright, as it was quite a ways before we could turn left onto K St NE and left again onto N Capitol NE. There was no real reason to have done that, other than not knowing the neighborhood well enough to have understood where to turn off of 2nd St SE. Oh well, no matter, it was a beautiful day and we enjoyed the ride. I should say, I enjoyed the ride. John enjoyed it as much as he could, given that he had installed a leather saddle his uncle gave him because he wasn’t using it any more. This was John’s first ride on it. It turned out to be tightened in a way that was incredibly uncomfortable for him, with easily imagined results. The saddle has since been adjusted and treated with saddle conditioner. It will be fine, I think. So will John, soon.
Once on K Street, I had my bearings. We turned onto North Capital and from there followed my usual morning commute: E St to 15th to Pennsylvania, turning at 20th to head into DuPont Circle. John was quite taken by the number of car and drivers who unnecessarily pulled into and/or parked in the bike lanes along the route. All very typical of city cycling. Saturday is a less congested day that a weekday, but there’s a higher percentage of local visitors and tourists not used to road sharing, so all in all cyclists’ challenges on the streets remain pretty much the same.
After browsing the bookstore and finding paperbacks to take on the upcoming Bon Ton Roulet Tour in July, we rode over to the U Street Metro Station, folded up our bikes and after a typical longish wait caught the next train to Greenbelt. Though we were caught up in the post Nationals-Yankees game crowd, we and our bikes fit into the car just fine. The Bromptons collected more love on the trip home from bystanders and from us. It was a great outing. I hope the Tour de Fat returns to DC next year.
Some images from the day: