With the uptick in bike-shares and scooter-shares, the age-old question of “What is the ideal way to tour Georgetown on a gorgeous summer afternoon?” has gotten more complicated.
We got the answer when the Rosewood hotel, located at 1050 31st St. NW, launched its Picnic and Pedal experience, which allows guests to rent upscale bicycles packed with a picnic-basket lunch for an afternoon of self-guided touring. Between our picnics, pedals and phones (for photos — we are millennials, of course), we thought that the afternoon would be spent with the wind blowing through our hair as we took to the streets of Georgetown with a ripe nectarine in hand.
We quickly realized that biking one-handed with food is a riskier affair than we imagined.
Part of the problem was that we set out on the cycling expedition with no idea of where we were heading. The Rosewood staff recommended cycling along the Capital Crescent Trail or heading toward the Mall to take a tour of the monuments. Determined to stay in Georgetown, we went up instead.
Here, “up” refers not only to our northbound route on 33rd Street’s bike lanes, but the neighborhood’s seemingly innocuous hills. Even with the numerous gear changes, we ended up parking our bikes on the sidewalk to grab our provided water and catch our breath.
So perhaps “up” was not the experience we expected. Instead, we started heading west. But after quickly realizing that P Street’s adorable cobblestones are less than ideal for bikers, we went down to O and pedaled along.
It’s amazing what you observe in the neighborhood when you’re liberated from searching for parking. The architecture of Georgetown and the personal touches that owners have put on their homes really come to life once you look beyond the curb. We found ourselves stopping over and over again to admire this flowering rose bush or that decorated doorway. Biking at a leisurely pace proved ideal for admiring the neighborhood: it is slow enough to appreciate a home instead of a blur, but fast enough to get somewhere beyond a couple of blocks.
We ended up eating our lunch in one of the unsung green spaces of the neighborhood, Georgetown University. Beyond its wrought-iron gates lies a beautifully kept grassy feature with broad overhanging trees, benches, even a picnic table.
Our basket was filled to the brim with a gourmet meal: a grilled hummus wrap stuffed with veggies, local artisanal cheeses with dried fruit and garnishes, potato chips, a house-made granola bar, freshly baked cookies — and the perfectly ripe nectarine of our dreams.
After enjoying the university, we decided to take the hotel’s advice and head towards the Capital Crescent Trail and waterways. However, we got distracted by the waterfront before we made it to our destination. If ever there was a way to see Georgetown residents at their finest, it would be running through the fountain or lounging on the benches in front of the Potomac River.
We quickly discovered that we were not alone in our search for the ideal summer lunch under the sun, as many of the occupants of the wooden benches sported their own bagged lunch (though they likely lacked the fresh-baked cookies). It must have been a different lunch — full of shrieking and laughter instead of tolling bells and studying, but there were those who found quiet, hidden spaces along the river.
By the time we made it to the Capital Crescent Trail, it was almost time to turn around, so we didn’t make it too far along the river. We took to the fabled K Street bike lanes and prepared ourselves for one final push uphill towards the Rosewood.
Okay, so maybe it was not the afternoon we pictured, with the wind and so on. Perhaps we should have gone towards the monuments, but the mess of cobblestone streets, bushes encroaching on sidewalks and wanderers simply enjoying the day out is exactly what gives Georgetown its charm.
It’s liberating to pedal along and enjoy the historic architecture and gardens that surround us innocuously every day. Someone very clever once told me to “stop and smell the roses,” and the Rosewood bikes allowed us to enjoy the neighborhood at its carefree finest. It is exactly what the ideal afternoon in Georgetown calls for, down to the red-checkered blanket.