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Biking to Mount Vernon

Bike rental firm offers trail ride to Mt. Vernon, boat ride back to Alexandria

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Bike and Roll's 9-mile bike ride from Alexandria to Mount Vernon is a tiring one. But it leaves you with just enough energy to explore the home of George Washington, and luckily you don't have to bike home - leave your bike there and hop on a boat to skip the bike trail.

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Thursday, July 1, 2010; 10:25 AM

Many people say the weekend is for relaxing after a long week of work. If you're one of those people, this adventure probably isn't for you. But if you're looking for something that will leave you feeling accomplished on wheels, legs and water all in one day, you may have met your match.

Bike and Roll, a bicycle rental and tour company with locations in downtown Washington and Alexandria, has introduced a trip to Mount Vernon where you get there by bike, explore the estate on foot and recover on a boat ride back to Old Town. Participants rent a bike in Old Town and hop onto the Mount Vernon bike trail, pedal about an hour and arrive at the historic home of George Washington. Once there, the bikes can be locked and left. Just remember to keep the key to the bike lock; you'll have to return it to the shop once you return to Alexandria. After exploring the plantation for a while, the Miss Christin (part of the Potomac Riverboat Co. fleet) leaves Mount Vernon at 4 and gets you back to Old Town by 5:30 p.m.

The bikes, 21-speed Treks that passing cyclists were surprised came from a rental, are comfortable and easy to ride. The seat is easily adjusted, and there is a spot for your water bottle, as well as a pouch on the front for whatever small items you may have and a bungee cord to secure a small backpack. At just under nine miles, the bike trail can be a struggle, especially in the heat and humidity. The beginning of the trail seems flat and even downhill, but it ends on an uphill note and can leave you doubting whether you'll make it. If you have the time, there are several picnic areas that would make for a great lunch spot to recharge.

You can decide your own departure time from Alexandria, meaning you can also decide how much time you spend at Mount Vernon. Visitors to the estate can tour George Washington's home, witness demonstrations on plantation life and visit a museum with artifacts, including the first president's dentures, before heading to the wharf for your departure.

If you've been to Mount Vernon and taken the hour-long boat ride before, the narrated trip back to Alexandria won't offer much new information. But the view is certainly worth it, and after a day of biking and walking around in the heat, the breeze of the Potomac and a rest for your legs are both very welcome ways to end the afternoon.

-- Kristen Boghosian

WHERE IS IT? Pick up a rental bike at Bike and Roll in Alexandria, 1 Wales Alley. For your return, the boat leaves from the Mount Vernon wharf and makes a stop at National Harbor before dropping passengers off at Old Town in front of the Torpedo Factory Art Center. Don't forget to walk the few blocks to return your bike key. The Mount Vernon by Bike and Boat package is offered Tuesday through Sunday until Labor Day. The last bike rental of the day is 2 p.m., but it's recommended that you plan to start your excursion by noon. The store opens at 10 a.m. daily except summer Saturdays, when it opens at 9 a.m. WHAT DO I WEAR? Something you can bike comfortably in. You'll also want to wear good walking shoes for exploring Mount Vernon. While some of the bike trail is in the shade, you'll be in the sun enough to want sunscreen. Bring a water bottle, too: You'll be able to refill it at a few places, both on the trail and at Mount Vernon. HOW MUCH IS IT? $48 for adults, $31 for ages 6 to 12, $18 for ages 2 to 5. Advance registration is required. Price includes bike (or a tandem trailer for toddlers), bike lock and helmet rental, admission to Mount Vernon and a ticket on the Miss Christin to return to Alexandria. FOR MORE INFORMATION: Visit http://www.bikethesites.com or call 703-548-7655.


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