Newsletter: headspace infrastructure

Happy Friday,

I’ve never been much of a competitive sports person. Recently, though, I’ve found I enjoy stories about ultra-endurance bicycling. Some of the appeal is just a matter of scenery—events like the Silk Road Mountain Race happen in stunning, remote places that lend themselves to dramatic photography. But at the core, it’s the riders who make these events inspiring. I could go on about how amazing someone like Lael Wilcox is for a couple more paragraphs, but I won’t. The reason I’m thinking about this right now is how often the stories these riders tell are about the mental challenges they face—so much of the experience is about convincing your legs to keep moving when they would prefer not to. 

At a smaller scale, I think this is also true of biking for transportation. Sometimes your body is just done riding, but there’s not a convenient bus route or metro station nearby. Tilden Street is not the mountains of Kyrgyzstan, but sometimes you are halfway up it with a pannier-load of groceries, and you have to persuade yourself to keep going. The question I have is: what are the things that help people keep riding in situations like this? I think fear of getting tired out is a real barrier to riding for some folks, and so I’m interested in how people approach it. Good infrastructure helps—witness the number of people who ride up the 15th Street bike lane past Meridian Hill Park every day. But I know that for me, there are less concrete things that affect my mental fortitude while I’m riding: street trees make a big difference, for example. 

If WABA put together a “Tips for riding when you’re tired” resource, what would you include? Are there elements of the built environment that affect your mental and emotional stamina when you’re riding? Do you have mental strategies you use to persevere up the second half of a big hill? Drop me a reply and let me know!

Things to do this week:

A fun route idea for the weekend

Have you ridden through the National Arboretum recently? It’s a fun, short spin through some great scenery. If you take the West Virginia Ave NE bike lane to Montana Ave, you can get to the R Street Arboretum entrance without having to ride on Bladensburg Ave. Head back out the same way and grab some coffee or ice cream at Union Market afterwards. And the good news is that in a few years, it’ll be a lot easier to access the Arboretum by bike, with the Arboretum Bridge and Trail connecting it to the Anacostia River Trail and Deanwood neighborhood, and the Bladensburg Road Safety and Access project adding protected bike lanes along the corridor.