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The 2023 Routes are in!

The 25-mile ride has a new (less-hilly) look while the 50-mile and 100-mile courses will revisit the scenic backroads of Montgomery and Frederick counties

8 min read

BellRinger Weekend is right around the corner, and aided by feedback from the community, we’ve been working throughout the year to fine tune the Ride Weekend experience to make this year’s ride even better than last year’s. We’re excited to share what we’ve been cooking up and formally announce the routes for BellRinger 2023.

The TL;DR version of this article:

The 25-mile ride is getting a complete makeover. Instead of finishing in Germantown, the 25-mile course now concludes at Glen Echo Park in Glen Echo, Maryland. The route will be less hilly and shorter this year, even featuring a short-cut that can cut your ride distance to 19 miles.

The 50-mile and 100-mile courses have a new finish line location at Urbana District Park, which is just a short distance from last year’s finish line at the center of town. We’ve also made adjustments to the course to make the route more scenic and comfortable for Riders, specifically removing the portion of the route that traced Fingerboard Rd. outside of Urbana, which should reduce car traffic.

Finally, we want to remind everyone that BellRinger routes are never completely final. Emergencies and unexpected road maintenance can pop up and require us to re-route. We recommend updating your route logs and GPS files (if you choose to download) the night before the Ride to ensure you have the latest information.

For those of you who’d nerd-out on planning and routing bike rides as much as we do…

We’ve got a lot more to share. We’ll break down all of the updates to the 25-mile, 50-mile, and 100-mile courses for you to pour over as you wrap up your training for BellRinger. These routes are informed by the BellRinger community, so if you are out riding and see something that you want us to know or have a suggestion, please reach out and share your thoughts. We’d love to hear from you.

25-mile Route –

Washington, D.C. to Glen Echo, MD

We’re headed to Glen Echo! We’re grateful to our good friends at Glen Echo Park and the Town of Glen Echo for welcoming us with open arms. We’re optimistic that our finish line celebration at Glen Echo Park will offer more green space and a lively finish line atmosphere. Along the way, 25-milers will experience a beautiful ride along Clara Barton Parkway and then head northwest to circle Potomac. Two rest stops will be on offer at the Adat Shalom Congregation (mile 8.8) and at Avenel Local Park (mile 16.7) to support Riders along the way.

Turn-by-turn Route:

Last year, almost everyone enjoyed the 25-mile ride, but we also listened to feedback on how we could improve the experience. See below for a glimpse of some of the areas for growth that stood out to our team:

  • The ride was long. Due to last minute construction, the Ride was almost 28 miles in total
  • The hills were tough, especially at the end of the route
  • Some of the roads had more car traffic than people were expecting

We worked hard over the past 10 months to take action on each of these areas of feedback, and we’re excited to report that we’ve made progress in each area:

Ride Distance

The new course is 25.5 miles (if only we could squeeze out that extra half mile!), and we are offering a short-cut for 25-milers who would like to shorten their ride. A turn-off point on Persimmon Tree Rd. and Oaklyn Drive will shorten your morning to 19 miles and avoid a couple of pesky hills along the way. This is completely optional and you can decide to take the short-cut based on how you are feeling on Ride morning.

The Hills

While we can’t promise a completely flat ride from Georgetown to Glen Echo, we’ve taken significant steps to flatten out the 25-mile Ride, especially in the final six miles. The first ten miles are almost identical to the 2022 ride, which will include a long gradual uphill on Persimmon Tree Rd. The good news is that our new rest stop at Adat Shalom will greet you at the top of the hill. The loop through Potomac will have some rolling hills, but the final six miles are downhill or pan flat. You can wave behind to the hills after mile 19.5. Total elevation gain on this year’s 25-mile course is 1,210 feet compared to 1,766 in 2022. This is a 31% reduction in climbing!

Road selection

We’ve removed almost all of River Rd. from the ride this year, which was a source of some car traffic last year. Instead we are going to be using quieter neighborhood backroads and making a right turn onto Democracy Blvd. at mile 12.5 for a short distance before we duck back into quieter roads. Falls Rd. will greet Riders after their second rest stop at Avenel Local park, and this is one of the most commonly traversed roads by local cyclists. MacArthur Blvd. also promises a smooth ride into Glen Echo. We are partnering up with local law enforcement to provide an even larger presence this year at busier intersections to help Riders along the way.

We believe the 25-mile course is taking a huge step forward this year and will be a blast for everyone. While it will still pose some challenges along the way, those hills can be reminders of the mountain we are climbing together to end cancer.

50-mile Route –

Washington, D.C. to Urbana, MD

BellRinger’s 50-mile course is back for 2023 with a few tweaks to improve the Ride. This year’s finish line will pack more intrigue as Riders will circle Urbana District Park in a U-shape in their final pedal strokes to the finish line. While we aren’t finishing in the same location as last year, we’ll be just down the road at a beautiful park with ample space to spread out and hang out on a beautiful Saturday afternoon.

Last year we heard that the final few miles into Urbana had a bit more car traffic and hills than people were hoping for. We revamped the ride into Urbana this year, instead traveling into town from the north and traversing a couple of beautiful parkways that will have fewer and slower moving vehicles.

Turn-by-turn Route:

50-mile Riders will trace the 25-mile route for the first 10 miles with all other BellRinger Riders. The first rest stop on the 50-mile course will be Adat Shalom. From there 50-mile Riders will pass through the route split and head to their second rest stop a Greenbriar Local Park. The course will proceed to the Northwest with a third rest stop near the Germantown Soccerplex and the fourth rest stop located at the Barnesville School of Arts and Sciences. Riders can expect a beautiful ride to the northwest around Sugarloaf Mountain and into Urbana. Last year we climbed 3,450 feet, but this year we’ve saved you a few cranks of the pedals in your lowest gears with 3,341 feet of vertical climb expected for BellRinger 2023.

100-mile Route –

Washington, D.C. to Urbana, MD (via Middletown)

The 100-mile route will continue to challenge each and every Rider who takes it on. The formidable hills of Frederick County are back again this year, but picturesque views accompany the climbs as the ride winds its way from northwestern Montgomery County into Frederick County. Like the 50-mile ride, the 100-mile ride will also finish at Urbana District Park.

Turn-by-turn Route:

We made similar adjustments to the 100-mile course that we made to the 50-mile course. Rather than entering Urbana (for the first time) on Fingerboard Road, we’ve decided to route into town from the north. 100-mile Riders will trace the 50-mile course until mile 48.5 when they will split off and head to their new lunch stop in the heart of Urbana. From here, two additional rest stops will support Riders in Middletown, MD and Jefferson, MD as they make their way through the hills of Frederick County and back to the finish line in Urbana. The final few miles of the ride will feature a new look as they will traverse quieter roads to avoid traffic on the run into Urbana. 100-mile Riders will climb 6,831 feet this year compared to 6,481 feet last year. We’re sorry about the extra hill or two, but we promise the views will more than make up for it.

A final note on the routes and safety

Safety is our number one priority, and BellRinger’s routes are never fully finalized until the morning of the ride. We are constantly monitoring our routes for safety concerns and working with law enforcement to ensure we are setting our community up for a safe and enjoyable ride.

When training for BellRinger, some of the roads found on our route won’t be suitable for solo Riders on a Saturday afternoon ride. We are able to bring far more resources to the table on BellRinger Weekend to help staff intersections with law enforcement and add additional signage to alert drivers to Riders on the road. Please use caution as you select roads for your training rides, and take care to avoid busy intersections and roads that are not commonly traversed by bicyclists.

We look forward to riding with the entire BellRinger community on October 21st. Best of luck with your training and fundraising in the lead up to BellRinger Weekend!

September 14, 2023

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