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I’m guessing in war there’s no room for screwing up. Even if your equipment is faulty, you have to make it work. You also have to know when to surrender. Joining Adventuring for a 17-mile bicycle ride on a humid Monday night in Clarendon was sort of like that. I simply didn’t prepare for the outing. I didn’t buy a helmet. I used a rusty bike. And I forgot to bring cash for the $2 trip fee — a big no-no.
Once I got past the embarrassment of my old bike, four riders and I got moving from Clarendon to downtown D.C., and it was rough from the get-go. Riding down the Arlington streets and bike paths to D.C., it became much more about survival and less about an athletic bike ride. Suddenly the monuments we visited, such as the National World War II Memorial, were becoming more and more appropriate — I felt like I was in a combat zone. A single car’s door popping open could send me flying. At times I was peddling, but I was not moving as fast as everyone else. My bike was switching gears on its own, clickity-clacking and making obnoxious noises from one memorial to another. If there was a competition for bikes that make animal noises, mine would win for something akin to whale song. Yet strangely enough, once we made it past the highway, riding with Adventuring became pleasant enough to help me forget about my technical difficulties.
We stopped at the Washington Monument and other D.C. mainstays, because on this particular trip an out-of-towner had joined us. The highlights for me were the Lincoln Memorial, the Capitol and the echo chamber at the Canadian Embassy. I was dreading the inevitably difficult ride on my piece of junk back to Clarendon when one rider said, “We’re going to suggest you take the Metro back.” I knew the war was lost and I sheepishly surrendered to public transportation as the rest of the group peddled away. Adventuring’s next weekly bike ride is scheduled for Monday, Aug. 3. For more, visit www.adventuring.org.