Where to live and ride, working at DC Navy Yard- Mtbr.com
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  1. #1
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    Where to live and ride, working at DC Navy Yard

    Looks like I'll be getting assigned to a job at the Washington Navy Yard around Nov/Dec. I'm looking for advice on where to live (rent) that will be okay in terms of riding and a commute to the yard. I have zero familiarity with the area except as a tourist staying in Georgetown once back in '05 or so.

    My requirements: 2 car garage (anything smaller is a no-go), either bikeable distance to a metro, or close to trails. I need to have either safe/decent road riding from the house...or good trails less than 30 mins drive time. I was once spoiled with 30+ miles of single track only 5 miles from my house...with a great pub on the pedal home that served Chimay on tap and didn't care if I came in covered in dirt after a couple hours of riding. If I could only approach half of that Nirvana again...I'll be more than happy.

    Her requirements: a "community feel", she likes artsy craftsy, quirky folks...with something of a backyard. Farmer's markets and all that are a plus. Proximity to outdoor ed jobs...even better.

    No kids...so couldn't care less about schools. Looking at spending 2400-3000/month in rent.

    I don't have a whole lot of familiarity with the DC area. I've heard of Gambril and Patapsco. Never rode there. I've ridden Douthat a couple of times and have done the Southern Traverse. During warmer months...I'll take every chance I've got to go camping/biking. I have a few riding friends in the Norfolk/Va Beach Area that do regular trips to Douthat.

    I'm okay with up to an hour on a train each way commute wise. I've resigned myself to spending that time picking up another masters through a mostly on line source for the duration (fingers crossed....2 years or less) of my tour.

  2. #2
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    How about Fairfax? I stayed there at a friend's house many years ago and remember a bike path on the way to the metro. I figured if I lived down there, I'd bicycle to the train each morning.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by sam-eye-am
    My requirements: 2 car garage (anything smaller is a no-go), either bikeable distance to a metro, or close to trails.
    Two car garage is doable at your budget, but you may need to hunt around for a place with a two car garage in a cool area. If I were you, I would recommend asking on the city-data.com forums. They're a helpful bunch and can likely help you find what you're looking for. Just remember that no matter where you live around here, you'll likely be within 30 minutes to a few trails.

    Quote Originally Posted by sam-eye-am
    I need to have either safe/decent road riding from the house...or good trails less than 30 mins drive time. I was once spoiled with 30+ miles of single track only 5 miles from my house...with a great pub on the pedal home that served Chimay on tap and didn't care if I came in covered in dirt after a couple hours of riding. If I could only approach half of that Nirvana again...I'll be more than happy.
    You can research trail locations here on the MORE site. And bike paths exist all over this town. We've got the WO&D, the C&O Canal, the Mount Vernon path, and the Cross County trail.


    Quote Originally Posted by sam-eye-am
    Her requirements: a "community feel", she likes artsy craftsy, quirky folks...with something of a backyard. Farmer's markets and all that are a plus. Proximity to outdoor ed jobs...even better.
    [insert hysterically-laughing emoticon here]. I can use lots of words to describe people in the DC area, but "artsy craftsy, and quirky" are unfortunately not any of them. The closest place I can think of that has any kind of "funkiness" is the Del Ray neighborhood in Alexandria, but it could be next to impossible to find a place with a garage, much less a two car garage.

    Quote Originally Posted by sam-eye-am
    Looking at spending 2400-3000/month in rent.
    With that kind of budget you'll have tons of choices on where to live. As an Alexandria resident I can vouch for the general area seen here:



    What kind of place are you looking for? Townhouse, detached single family home, duplex?

    I live in that area and I've got several good places to ride, all within 30 minutes - Fountainhead, Accotink, Rosaryville. Outside of 30 minutes you can make it up to some quality places in Maryland like Schaeffer Farm, Gambrill, and Patapsco.
    Last edited by one incredible donkey; 03-09-2011 at 11:49 AM.

  4. #4
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    As for areas to ride check out my Garmin Connect site. I've uploaded a lot of the places I ride in the DC metro area.

    http://connect.garmin.com/dashboard

  5. #5
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    If you don't mind the train ride (about 1hour or so each way), Fredericksburg/Stafford is reasonable. You could probably find a house what you're looking for rental for $1500-2000 easy. The farther north of Stafford you go, the more expensive it gets, on average.

    For your "neighborhood" feel, you'll get more of that south of DC than you would in the immediate metro area. You could also look slightly west of DC. Commuting is a little bit more of a pain because of no train/metro, but there are ride-share and bus/van pools. West will be a little more country. Fredericksburg/Stafford/Spotsylvania seems to be one of the larger southern commuter areas in the south. Downtown F'burg has that "old town" feel with historic districts and lack of main-stream amenities such as 7-11, McDonald's and pawn shops on every corner. Almost everything in the historic district is locally owned and a good many of them have been around a long time. It's quite reasonable with the commuting options as well with van/bus pools, train and carpool all being easily available options. I also see a number of bikes from people commuting to the train station downtown (which is on my route to work), so I assume that quite a few people take that option when the weather is nice.

    I don't know much about living in the northern Virginia area. I last lived there in 2000 for about 6 months and really wasn't enjoyable for me. I enjoy a "small town" feel and Fredericksburg always seemed to come up well there. I like it when I can walk into the same bar three times a year for 10 years and they'll always know to have a 12oz bud light bottle sitting on the bar by the time I sit down.

    Personally, I live in Fredericskburg and until 2yrs ago, worked in the govt sector doing the 50+mi commute one-way for the better part of 9 years. Now I live close enough (10mi from work) to commute nearly 100% by bicycle and hit up anything from roads to bike paths to some jarring single-track 5-6 days a week.

    For places to ride...

    Fredericksburg (45mins south of DC) has the Quarry and Lodi Farms.

    Richmond (1.5hrs south of DC) has about 10 quality parks to ride in.

    Near DC, you have Fountainhead, Laurel Hill, Colt's Neck, Lake Fairfax, Accotink, Quantico and a few others.

  6. #6
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    Her requirements: a "community feel", she likes artsy craftsy, quirky folks...with something of a backyard. Farmer's markets and all that are a plus. Proximity to outdoor ed jobs...even better.
    Check out Tacoma Park. If you live in Maryland, you won't have to cross the river to get into DC which can be a plus. There is a TP metro stop as well, so getting to and from by bike metro will be easy. It is close to Patapsco, Roseryville, Schaeffer, Fairland, etc. Pretty much anywhere in the DC area you will be less than 30 minutes from a trailhead. On weekends you can go further from home.

  7. #7
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    I live in Alexandria, but if you don't mind a long commute to DC I would look at the Gaithersburg MD area. There is a ton of good riding in Montgomery County including Schaeffer Farms. Just 30 minutes west is Frederick County, which has some absolutely amazing riding that might compete with anything on the east coast.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Captain_America1976
    Check out Tacoma Park. If you live in Maryland, you won't have to cross the river to get into DC which can be a plus. There is a TP metro stop as well, so getting to and from by bike metro will be easy. It is close to Patapsco, Roseryville, Schaeffer, Fairland, etc. Pretty much anywhere in the DC area you will be less than 30 minutes from a trailhead. On weekends you can go further from home.
    Takoma Park is actually a pretty good recommendation.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by one incredible donkey
    Takoma Park is actually a pretty good recommendation.
    You cant be serious!

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by nov0798
    You cant be serious!
    With this kind of hearty argument I am deftly proven wrong by the great debater and MTBR forums poster "nov0798"!

    Quote Originally Posted by sam-eye-am
    either bikeable distance to a metro, or close to trails. I need to have either safe/decent road riding from the house...or good trails less than 30 mins drive time.
    You're not going to make it to a trail in less than 30 minutes, but several are within 40 minutes: Schaeffer Farm, Accotink, Rosaryville, Patapsco, and probably more I am forgetting about. You'll also be able to bike into DC. Your work will also only be 9 miles away so you can bike to work if that's an option.

    Quote Originally Posted by sam-eye-am
    Her requirements: a "community feel", she likes artsy craftsy, quirky folks...with something of a backyard.
    From Wikipedia:
    Quote Originally Posted by Wikipedia
    Takoma Park is known for a variety of cultural events, most notable of which is the Takoma Park Folk Festival, which attracts an audience from across the Mid-Atlantic region.

    The Takoma Park Folk Festival is a music festival held annually in the city. It has been in existence since 1978, founded by Sam Abbott, former Mayor of the city and civil-rights activist. In addition to hosting concerts on several stages by musicians from around the world, the festival also celebrates cultural diversity of the region, with a wide variety of ethnic food and crafts.

    The festival features numerous varieties of music from local and national artists, including blues, klezmer, bluegrass, Celtic, and hip-hop, and traditional music and dance from around the world. Other performers specialize in traditional and progressive folk music. In addition to music and dance, the festival features traditional storytellers from around the world.

    Takoma Park is notable for being the home of Takoma Records, a nationally-known blues label started by blues guitarist John Fahey, who (together with other local music institutions) popularized the city as a haven for folk musicians. Mary Chapin Carpenter, Al Petteway (composer of Sligo Creek) and many other prominent local and national artists have made their home in and around Takoma Park. Root Boy Slim and Goldie Hawn are from Takoma Park.

    Other annual festivals include the mildly countercultural Takoma Park Street Festival, the Takoma Jazz Fest, the Takoma Park Independent Film Festival, and the Takoma Park Fourth of July Parade, which is attended by residents and neighboring politicians from across the metropolitan region. The parade typically includes ethnic musical troupes representing a wide variety of global cultures, neighborhood performance troupes, and groups supporting causes, such as LGBTQ and fair trade, reflecting Takoma Park's historic reputation for activism.

    Immediately adjacent to the downtown, Takoma, D.C. is home to the A.Salon Building, a large art studio warehouse and former printing plant, which is home to the backstage office and rehearsal center for the Washington Opera. Two (currently vacant) freestanding theaters, the Takoma Theater and the Flower Theater, anchor either end of town. Takoma Park is also home to the Liz Lerman Dance Exchange and the Institute of Musical Traditions, a performance society founded by the House of Musical Traditions. Kinetic Artistry, a notable theatre supplier for the Washington area, is also located in Takoma Park. A Historic Takoma Museum is under construction by the local historic society.[citation needed] The Takoma Theatre Conservancy is an organization attempting to renovate the 500-seat Takoma Theatre for multiuse purposes.

    Takoma Park has been home to a variety of local characters who have contributed to the city's sense of identity and culture, including "Catman" and Motor Cat, Roscoe the Rooster, The Banjo Man, and "Fox Man", a local animal rights activist and founder of the city's Tool Library.
    I'll be danged - that sounds quite "artsy craftsy, quirky" to me!

    Quote Originally Posted by sam-eye-am
    Farmer's markets and all that are a plus.
    Hmm... Let's see what else Wikipedia says...

    Quote Originally Posted by Wikipedia
    Takoma Park also has a year round farmer's market and two other farmers markets which sell local produce and free range meats.
    Holy cow! That sounds ideal for his special lady friend!

    Quote Originally Posted by sam-eye-am
    Looking at spending 2400-3000/month in rent.
    At a quick glance at homesdatabase.com, that's completely doable and you'll likely have the pick of the litter with that kind of budget.

    Here's a link to the City-Data.com statistics page on Takoma Park:

    http://www.city-data.com/city/Takoma-Park-Maryland.html
    Last edited by one incredible donkey; 03-11-2011 at 06:40 AM.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by sam-eye-am
    My requirements: 2 car garage (anything smaller is a no-go), either bikeable distance to a metro, or close to trails. I need to have either safe/decent road riding from the house...or good trails less than 30 mins drive time.

    Her requirements: a "community feel", she likes artsy craftsy, quirky folks...with something of a backyard. Farmer's markets and all that are a plus. Proximity to outdoor ed jobs...even better.

    I don't have a whole lot of familiarity with the DC area. I've heard of Gambril and Patapsco. Never rode there. I've ridden Douthat a couple of times and have done the Southern Traverse. During warmer months...I'll take every chance I've got to go camping/biking. I have a few riding friends in the Norfolk/Va Beach Area that do regular trips to Douthat.

    I'm okay with up to an hour on a train each way commute wise. I've resigned myself to spending that time picking up another masters through a mostly on line source for the duration (fingers crossed....2 years or less) of my tour.
    I live in MD... there are a lot of nice places close to the Metro so you could take the subway to work. Check out Rockville, Kensington and possibly Bethesda (might be a bit pricey). Kensington is awesome- small town feel, Grosvenor Metro station is close, farm market every Saturday, very close to Beach Dr. and Rock Creek Park (road ride till your heart's content) which runs down into DC. There are a bunch of bike trails around- closest is Cabin John and then oodles more within ~30-40 minute driving distance in MD and VA. Feel free to PM me if you have more questions.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by one incredible donkey
    With this kind of hearty argument I am deftly proven wrong by the great debater and MTBR forums poster "nov0798"!
    Not a debate, simply a statement/opinion. I was actually thinking College Park, so my apologies, it was late! RELAX!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  13. #13
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    North and West of DC is your best bet. The primo riding areas are Frederick, MD and Front Royal, VA. South and East of DC offers less riding, but more water recreation... (Annapolis, Southern MD). You could bike to work from the NW, not so from the SE. Artsy is hard to come by in a Government town like DC. Between DC and Frederick there is alot of good riding. Where are you comming from?

  14. #14
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    I've been working at the Yard since 2008 for NAVFAC...commuted by bike from then to now from Old Town Alexandria...the Mt Vernon path, and all the paths, are really annoying not to mention flat. I just moved to Front Royal a couple of weeks ago, and although I have a 1.5-2 hour van commute, I use a commuter van and the gov't pays the fee and someone else drives, so it's doable. I telework one day a week and have every other Friday off, so I can get a ride in on those days. Best thing is I live at the top of a 3.5 mile 7.7% grade hill which is the private, gated drive to my community...appx Category 2 climb so great training right outside the door...easy access to Eliz Furnace, BRP, etc. Well worth it in terms of riding. Rent is half what you'd pay in the DC area so you'd have plenty of your tax-free VHA left over, and Front Royal is definitely an eclectic type of community. Contact me offline if you want more info...
    Last edited by 2xPneu; 03-12-2011 at 06:41 AM.

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by RetroG
    North and West of DC is your best bet. The primo riding areas are Frederick, MD and Front Royal, VA. South and East of DC offers less riding, but more water recreation... (Annapolis, Southern MD). You could bike to work from the NW, not so from the SE. Artsy is hard to come by in a Government town like DC. Between DC and Frederick there is alot of good riding. Where are you comming from?
    Currently coming from the Seattle Area. And yes, I still commute via bike in the rain, and a couple of times snow. Monterey before that. Norfolk before that, and San Diego before that.

    From what I've read, Takoma Park is spot on for her. Do-able for me if I can find a place to rent with a 2 car garage and at least 2 side by side car parking in front of the garage. Looks tough to come by though. At only 9 or so miles from the yard...looks certainly bike commute-able...don't know about traffic though. Even if we could find a place that is within a couple of miles of an area like Takoma park (bike-able distance to farmer's market or decent non main stream dinner spot), that would work too.

    Thanks for the input everyone. Wish I had the opportunity to get out there and explore before moving...but schedule won't permit me to get there until I actually start working out there.

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