January, 2020

Two bikes sit chained to a bike rack at the base of the hill. They serve as a warning to all who dare attempt to summit this peak: Not everyone makes it. Some leave their bikes at the bottom. This is the type of hill where people on sidewalks yell out encouragement to cyclists who huff and puff their way north.

It’s late in the morning, and the traffic around Malcolm X Park has thinned. Pedestrians jaywalk with ease and a handful of cyclists roll by on W Street NW. None, so far, dare to turn left and begin the climb.

Eventually a woman begins to approach from the south. She moves slowly, wearing a jacket that is perhaps too warm. She has two bike bags stuffed full. The hill leading up to The Hill is, itself, significant, and she wills the bike forward.

As she advances, the eddy of one way roads, drivers, and pedestrians swirls in anticipation of an intrepid cyclist. Another bike coasts down The Hill—no need to pedal as gravity guides the rider downtown. 

She arrives at The Hill, just barely making the light and keeping her momentum, but as she arrives at The Hill’s base she stops, dismounts, and begins to walk. Today is not the day. She continues upward slowly, disappearing into the bike lane’s S-bend. 

Quiet time passes. Finally, another man approaches from the south. He makes quick work of the preliminary hill as he climbs. Then suddenly, at the base of Malcolm X Park, he turns right onto W Street NW.

Will Warren writes Scene and Heard. If you know of a location worthy of  being seen or heard, email him at wwarren@washingtoncitypaper.com.