Disclaimer: This recap of our 28-Mile Down to the River: Lake Anne to the Potomac Tour contains affiliate links…


Where’s the River?

While Bill and I were vacationing at the beach, my friends went on a ride called Down to the River. Later when they told me about it, I asked if they would mind doing it again soon because I’d love to ride that course. They laughed and said that even though it was call Down to the River, they never saw the Potomac.

At the time I was learning about the ride from my girlfriends, Bill was with our other cycling group on practically the same ride my friends were describing. The big difference was that their version of the Ride with GPS course actually took them to the river.

Once my friends and I planned our ride, Bill updated our course so that it would indeed take us to the river at the boat launch in Algonkian Park. Bill’s undated link can be found below.


Rolling Past Reston, Great Falls, Sterling, and Herndon

We met for the start of our ride at Lake Anne Plaza in Reston, an area I hadn’t visited in close to twenty years. After Waze sent me incorrectly twice into neighborhoods, I relied on my instincts and finally found the plaza.

We left Lake Anne and meandered on residential roads until we crossed Route 7 and got into the Great Falls area. From there we hugged the shoulder of a two-lane road with a bit of traffic. When on roads like this, I prefer to be in a larger group so we’re more easily seen, but the three of us were very careful and traffic moved over as they passed. Our ride took us on several four-lane parkways and boulevards, across two golf courses, and of course, to the Potomac River.

Also worth noting when comparing the Ride with GPS map with my post-ride Garmin map, we opted to skip riding through the Sterling area during the 11 AM timeframe when several large churches would be attracting a lot of traffic. Instead, we hopped on the W&OD Trail where we found bike and foot traffic easier to navigate than an excess of cars.


Ride Overview
  • • Ride Name: 28-Mile Down to the River Lake Anne to the Potomac Tour
  • • Location: Fairfax County, Virginia
  • • Start/Finish: Lake Anne Plaza, Reston, VA
  • • Course Type: loop
  • • Course Surface: paved
  • • Bike: Specialized Roubaix Comp
  • • Distance: 28 miles
  • • Time: 2:07:49
  • • Average Speed: 13.2 MPH
  • • Elevation Gain: 1,063 feet
  • • Elevation Range: 175 to 459 feet
  • • Temperature Range: 61° to 77°
  • • Ride with GPS: Link to turn-by-turn navigation cue sheet
  • • Course Map:

28-Mile Down to the River: Lake Anne to the Potomac Tour


Fun Pictures From Along the Way

Even though I had my GoPro (affiliate link) attached to the front of my bike, I missed several opportunities to turn it on. The majority of the following pictures were taken with my phone while we were stopped.

About 11 miles into our ride we made the turn that took us into Algonkian Park, a turn that wasn’t on the original route…

Photo credit: Amy

Potomac River at the boat launch in Algonkian Park…

28-Mile Down to the River: Lake Anne to the Potomac Tour


Lily showing off her lilac color…

28-Mile Down to the River: Lake Anne to the Potomac Tour


Amy and Anne relaxing by the river…


A selfie next to the Potomac was a must…

28-Mile Down to the River: Lake Anne to the Potomac Tour


Our ride had us crossing Route 7 twice. Here, we checked out about seven Corvettes in multiple colors waiting across the street to make a left turn. Unfortunately, the hot pink Corvette isn’t in the picture.


Amy riding along a less traveled street…


Back at Lake Anne, Amy treated us to a delicious homemade lunch!

Photo credit: Amy

Garmin Stats

Post-ride Garmin (affiliate link) picture…


Garmin map and graphs…

28-Mile Down to the River: Lake Anne to the Potomac Tour


Final Thoughts on the Ride

I had a great time on the ride and would definitely a like to do it again, but preferably with a larger group for the safety reasons I mentioned. I’m really glad that Bill was able to make the adjustment for us so we could find the river. I had uploaded the Ride with GPS route onto my Garmin (affiliate link) for the first time and really appreciated having turn-by-turn directions instead of having to rely on my fellow riders.


  • • Have you been to the Potomac River?
  • • Would failure to see the main attraction be a deal breaker for you when going on a run or ride?
  • • Do you prefer riding roads, recreational trails, technical trails, or gravel?


Disclaimer:  This post contains affiliate links which means if you click on the blue product link and then make a purchase, I will receive a small commission for referring you. You will pay no more or less for the product; however, Amazon will show their gratitude for my referral by paying me.