Entering the road, heavy, smelly, dripping trucks start to rumble by, only to form a line in the distance. You navigate to the head of the line, but after a sharp left turn, spirits are dashed as a monster comes into view.
As you start to feel the incline, you step up out of the saddle and begin to rock side to side using your upper body for leverage. You have shifted into an easier gear to help you with the effort. And still, it’s a mean hill, but worse-- it really stinks!
On the east side of Catholic University, at the intersection of John McCormack Road and Bates Drive NE, there is a slope affectionately known by some as “Big Stinky.” The nickname refers both to the challenge of the sun-baked ascent as well as to the intermittent smelly gusts conveyed from the adjacent trash transfer station—the city dump.
As fun as it can be to try and “Beat the Stink”, it doesn’t have to be this way!
The hill is a symbol of the stalled progress in building the Metropolitan Branch Trail which when ultimately completed, will provide a smooth at-grade connection between Silver Spring and the National Mall. With the Trail in place, instead of having to take on Big Stinky, cyclists and other users will be able to pass the transfer station alongside the Metro tracks on a level path. And, the completed Trail will be able to connect with the Capital Crescent Trail to offer a 27 mile “bicycle beltway” encircling a large part of the District, thereby providing a hugely valuable recreational amenity and transportation link.
While there has been some encouraging progress, namely the installation of a segment between M and Franklin Streets NE, which took place over two years ago, the push to complete the MBT started over 14 years ago.
So what gives? We have seen an unacceptably lengthy period of inactivity, even after one of the major hurdles was cleared when positive findings from an environmental impact study were released.
We remain encouraged that DDOT can make completing the MBT a high priority and will find a way to get through the final red tape. To show our support and highlight the importance of moving forward with this project, The Assembly is hosting a fun community event that will pit bike riders against Big Stinky to compete for a coveted trophy, the Golden Garbage Pail.
Please join us on Saturday, March 16th at 12 pm at Big Stinky, just a ways north of the CUA Metro Station. We will have a fun competition and prizes for the winners as well as for the riders or fans with the best costumes.
We would like a great turnout of spectators who can help write encouraging words on the pavement with chalk, and line the hill to scream and cheer as participants push to Beat the Stink! We want to create an atmosphere like the hardest hill climb finishes in professional cycling, where fervent fans wave flags, ring cowbells, and get right up close to the competition. And, a large showing will allow us to produce a great video to bring attention to this project.
Please sign up to take on Big Stinky or to come and cheer others on. And, alert your friends on facebook so that we can have a huge showing from the community and demonstrate that we want to Complete the MBT!