Natalie Tomlin, special to wtop.com
WASHINGTON - With more than 200 Capital Bikeshare stations across the D.C. region and miles of cycling paths, Washington has truly become a bike-friendly city.
And while 22,000 members belong to the city's bike sharing program, biking opportunities are not limited to just locals.
2012 study prepared by Virginia Tech
2012 study prepared by Virginia Techshows 53 percent of tourists use Capital Bikeshare to get around D.C.
In addition, a handful of bike rental shops and bike tour companies help tourists see the city by way of two wheels.
Many hotels help arrange bike rentals for their customers, and some even offer free bike access to their guests, such as The River Inn and The Dupont Circle Hotel, among others.
But the Kimpton's Hotel Monaco on F Street in the Penn Quarter/Chinatown area is gearing up and pedaling the extra mile.
This hotel location offers free access to a collection of custom-made bicycles for hotel guests and a weekly biking tour of the nation's capital with the hotel's General Manager Ed Virtue.
The "Bike with the GM" program lets guests participate in "Ed's top 25 rides under 25 miles."
"We are keeping with our values and image," Virtue says. "I bike back-and-forth to work once a week for a 20 to 30 mile ride, and I just thought this is something I could really have some fun with and take it to a crazy level."
Originally, Virtue thought the bikes were a fantastic idea, but he was concerned guests wouldn't know where to take them in D.C. That's when he decided he could be the one to take guests on tours once a week.
For the rest of the days, guests can rely on excursions that are pre-loaded into a Garmin GPS that mounts onto the bike's handlebars and provides cyclists turn-by-turn directions. Guests can also type their own destination into the GPS to find the best biking paths or their preferred city sites.
For the more competitive cyclists, the GPS shows riders Virtue's time record for each path, so the ambitious ones can keep up with the GM or try to beat his time.
Those who finish a route faster than Virtue can choose a small prize from the hotel's treasure chest, filled with protein bars, CamelBak water bottles and other biking gear.
Virtue says although most people use the bikes to casually explore D.C., the "Race the GM" program adds another element of fun.
"There are so many really cool stretches, like down Pennsylvania Avenue," he says. "I think it's so cool. It's like you really belong there. There are also lots of destination rides, like to King Street or Old Town [Alexandria] … It's such a bike friendly city."
The "Bike with the GM" program is still in its beginning stages, but the general manager is hopeful it will continue to grow in popularity. He takes guests out from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m. every Wednesday for scenic tours of the monuments and historic sites, or rides along the Potomac River or through Rock Creek Park.
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