Chevy Chase is home to many bikers. One of the reasons is City Bikes, located for 10 years where the Capital Crescent Trail meets Connecticut Avenue. City Bikes has a convenient off-ramp from the trail to its door.
City Bikes sells a wide variety of bikes, ranging from beginning kids’ sizes to more expensive racing, mountain and road bikes. (That’s one of the store’s two managers, An Ha, standing by some of the stock, at left.) It sells the gear to go with them, like helmets. Most important, it’s got a quick, efficient repair shop, with six mechanics on staff. Anyone who rides knows that flat tires, broken spokes and the occasional bent wheel are part of the experience. City Bikes gets riders back on the road or trail. (Service department manager Buddy McLaughlin is working on a bike at right below.)
And in Chevy Chase, there are lots of roads and trails to choose from. The Capital Crescent Trail runs through the northern part of Chevy Chase, then turns south in downtown Bethesda. It runs down to the edge of the Potomac River and then along the Potomac to Georgetown. From Bethesday to Georgetown, it’s a wide, well-paved trail. From Bethesda east through Chevy Chase until it ends in Silver Spring, the trail is packed gravel and dirt, but it’s still easy to ride on. Because the trail follows the path of old railroad lines, its slopes are gentle, whether the rider is going downhill to Georgetown or uphill toward Bethesda. Many Chevy Chase riders use the trail to get to and from work in downtown Washington.
Others opt for the Rock Creek Trail, which runs alongside the eponymous creek for about ten miles, beginning just east of Chevy Chase. The Rock Creek Trail is older than the Capital Crescent Trail, and it’s not as wide or smooth. Riders need to be careful of bumpy pavement and a couple of blind curves. But it’s more direct route towards downtown for many Chevy Chase residents, who often access it via Broad Branch Road through a neck of Rock Creek Park. And, it connects to a trail network that begins in Washington near the Kennedy Center and can take a bike rider through Hains Point in the District or down the Virginia side of the river as far as Mount Vernon, George Washington’s historic home. From Chevy Chase, the Mount Vernon ride is about a 50-mile round trip, with views of Washington’s iconic monuments and memorials along the way.
Still others opt for riding the roads. Residential streets in Chevy Chase are usually quiet and pleasant to ride on. Thoroughfares like Connecticut Avenue require more nerve. But they connect with dedicated bike lanes that the District of Columbia has created on many of its busiest streets and avenues.
The growth of biking in Chevy Chase “just doesn’t stop,” says Wayne Hayward, one of City Bikes’ two managers. “There’s been a huge growth, especially in commuting. More and more people are getting rid of one of their cars and using a bike to get to work.”
Chevy Chase residents who’d like to add biking to their lifestyle can take advantage of some free opportunities at City Bikes. The shop offers classes in bike maintenance. Thursday nights in the summer, there’s a group ride organized by the store.
Photos © Bob Cullen