Past Meetup

Beginner(+) Level : Bethesda Whistle Stop Tour (aka "The Choo-Choo Loop")

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Beginner(+) Level

Bethesda Whistle Stop Tour

(aka "The Choo-Choo Loop")

Approximately 17 miles.

Channel your inner hobo and hop a boxcar to Montgomery County for this remarkably scenic railroad-themed ride!

Sunday, Sept 9th @ 10:00 am

Arrive @ 10:00 to 10:15 am
Pre-Ride Preparation @ 10:15am
Rolling @ 10:30am

The Ride

Click here ( for a pdf map of the route.

Whether you're a train buff, foodie, presidential candidate, or just a casual cyclist who loves exploring new trails, you'll want to climb aboard this scenic whistle stop tour. We'll leisurely pedal our cabooses along a 17-mile loop that links several historic rail-trails with one of the most idyllic sections of upper Rock Creek Park. And we'll conclude with an optional meal at a trackside bistro owned by award-winning restaurateurs Jeff and Barbara Black.

Sunday's "groovy train" ride begins, appropriately enough, at the tiny rail station in quaint and historic Garrett Park, MD (,_Maryland). From here we'll make our way to the Bethesda Trolley Trail (, a hidden gem that traces the defunct 1890s-era streetcar line between Rockville and Bethesda. A connector route will put us on the upper portion of the Capital Crescent and Georgetown Branch Trails, an old railroad right-of-way that includes a scenic restored trestle ( perched nearly 100 feet above Rock Creek.

Following a refueling stop in downtown Bethesda and a brief photo op atop the trestle, we'll ramble northbound along a serene and densely forested segment of the Rock Creek Trail ( The recently repaved (wide and smooth!) path will take us back to our starting point, where we'll enjoy an optional post-ride meal at Black Market Bistro ( This acclaimed eatery occupies the historic trackside general store/post office building, where diners are frequently entertained by the rumble of passing CSX freight trains (see photo above).

The route is mostly flat, with only a few discernible hills. We will ride at a beginner pace of approximately 12 mph. The event is labeled beginner(+) because of the 17-mile distance and two short stretches of on-street riding to connect with the primary bike paths. The on-road portions are brief and use quiet residential streets, but you should be comfortable riding alongside vehicular traffic. A short stretch on the Georgetown Branch Trail consists of a hard-packed natural (unpaved) surface, but road bikes should have no problem navigating this section.

The Meeting Spot

We will meet in the train station parking lot next to Black Market Bistro in Garrett Park (North Bethesda), MD. The location is conveniently accessible from the Beltway and less than a 30-minute drive from most parts of Northern Virginia. The lot has ample free parking, and our lunch location is right next door. (FYI, the bistro opens at 10 am -- perfect timing for those in need of a restroom prior to the ride.)

If you click on the location name ("Garrett Park Train Station") at the top of this NOVA-CBG event page, it will bring you to a Google Maps page. In the upper left corner of THAT page you will see a link named "Directions." This will allow you to plug in your address and find your way.

OR, you can just click this link and map your own directions to get there:

The Fine Print

Remember, helmets are required to participate in all NOVA-CBG rides. In addition all riders understand that they ride at their own risk and that the group leaders take no responsibility for rider's safety/injury. Please also keep in mind the group's cancellation policy when you RSVP. Prior to the ride, Carl will send out contact information so you can send him a text (please include your name) or give him a call if you are lost or running late.

Please be on time for the "Pre-Ride" preparation. This is when we will make sure everyone has their proper equipment (helmets, etc), bikes checked, and go through basic instructions such as trail riding and bike group policies, waivers, etc. If you are not on time for this you will not be able to participate in the ride.

A note about our ride levels. We try to accommodate all levels of cyclists with different types of rides. We just ask that you come to the ride that suits your current riding ability the best.

Introductory Level : If you haven't ridden a bike in a number of years (or are uncertain of your abilities on a bicycle). Beginner Level : If you can easily ride your bike for 10 miles (distance) with some minor hills at a comfortable pace (10+ to 12+ mph). Medium Level : If you can do 20 miles pretty easily at a moderate pace (13 to 15+ mph) Advanced Level : If you can do 20++ miles easily at a 15+ pace and / or handle various challenges as rain, night riding, or other odd cycling situations.