During Hometown Holidays my family decided to join the Ride and Stride which turned out to be a very pleasant tour of Rockville. The 12-mile route for bikes meandered through many of our lovely parks and tree-shaded paths. Each neighborhood revealed their best kept little secrets.
Ride and Stride starts early. The first event leaves at 8 AM, so the streets were mostly silent until our bikes momentarily clicked past. My friends from the Wootton Parkway area enjoyed the Fallsgrove and New Mark neighborhoods which were completely new to them, while I found the cuts through neighborhoods off Seven Locks and Fall’s Chapel to be a treat. The well-chosen route included the most fun features in Rockville, Friendship Bridge and the Maryland Avenue tunnel, which I described in my post Over and Under: Biking The Bridge. The rest stop was at the new Thomas Farm Community Center in Fallsgrove.
My nine-year-old completed the 12-mile route designed for families and felt a true sense of accomplishment. Most families included kids about 10 years old and up. Kids will surprise you with their dexterity and accomplishments if you give them the chance, but a kid’s ability to finish this 12-mile ride with these small hills would depend on their temperament. Adults and kids alike couldn’t hop on a bike and finish the course without any preparation or previous experience, which is the key no matter what your age.
Members of the Rockville Bike Advisory Committee rode along with the bikers and also stayed at the tail end to tell the police officers the entire group was through and they could leave their posts at the street crossings. Riders were friendly and supportive, engaging in conversation and encouraging the kids to keep going.
Looking over the other routes, the hard core more “challenging” 28-mile ride includes the 12-mile route plus an additional 16 miles in a larger circle around Rockville. The “strides” are either 2K or 5K runs or walks depending on your desired speed. The routes were well-marked except in a couple of places but it didn’t matter because you are given both a map and a guide telling you exactly when to turn onto each street. Luckily other riders, both friends and strangers, were always on hand to direct us so we made it through without a problem.
At the end I drank too much coffee from Starbucks and ate too many high fiber treats from Great Harvest while we were waiting around for the raffle. You could bring a t-shirt to be stamped with the Ride and Stride logo too. In general, participants stayed around to talk and share their experiences.
Other riders told me they save the route map and bike it on their own throughout the year. If this doesn’t tell you the route is a terrific choice for Rockville, I don’t know what would!