Monday’s ride took me down the hill and up the hill to Federal Hill for another trip to a yoga class. Wow, it’s not easy, this yoga thing, and I felt burnt afterward. I tried to remind myself that yes, like any other new thing, it’s hard. Patience, patience! I was a bit frustrated, though, so I did what I do when I’m frustrated and kept riding my bike. I headed over to Locust Point to drown my sorrows in sandwich. The ride home brought its own frustrations, the ones that come with riding a bike in the city. I’ve had city riding on my mind lately after hearing of a terrible bike death in New Orleans last week. Continue reading
Last week featured plenty of bicycle riding, and I even managed to get lost in the Pen Lucy and Hillen neighborhoods. I love getting lost, and I love that I seem able to do so no matter how long I ride around a city. You just have to make a different turn and be willing to go up the hill, and I’m easily willing to do those two things. Saturday, though, was all new. My ladyfriend threw her back out almost two months ago, but she’s finally up and moving around again, and we got to break in the double bike rack. Continue reading
The website said there was a 12 mile auto tour route out at Bombay Hook National Wildlife Reserve, so I was guessing that meant a 12 mile bicycle route, too. The website didn’t say anything about bikes, though, and I actually thought about calling ahead to see if bikes were allowed, since it seemed the perfect stop on Friday’s drive home from my tour of the Harriet Tubman Byway. I’m glad I didn’t call (and I didn’t because I didn’t want them to say something silly like “no bikes”), though, because they probably would have said sure, bring your bike, but be warned the road is crushed stone–and sometimes just loose rock–so it might not be the most comfortable riding surface. And oh, it wasn’t. Continue reading
I spent most of Wednesday in the car, driving from site to site along the Harriet Tubman Byway, trading off between the excellent audiotour (it didn’t go off the rails with reconciliation rhetoric until three stops from the Delaware border) and the rental car’s satellite radio–a Springsteen-only station? Be still my roadtrip heart! It was a dreary rainy day, and I was all complicated feelings and quiet as I passed through the heart of Caroline County’s Underground Railroad territory and the place where the Still’s had to decide which children to leave in slavery because they couldn’t all make it to freedom at the same time. I drove to the Choptank River, the site of Tubman’s first escape, but I had to pass a house draped in Confederate flags to get there. I learned about the Caroline County Courthouse where slave auctions were held, and just down the block, the local jail’s intake center. The sign out front told the story of voting for a state constitutional amendment banning slavery, since the Emancipation Proclamation didn’t apply to Union states. Apparently Caroline County voters protested their disenfranchisement, claiming their votes against the amendment were destroyed. Voter disenfranchisement, right. I got lost over and over again, because there aren’t a lot of signs out here, and I wonder the backstory, what kinds of resistances have been thrown up at every stage of remembrance. And then I made it to stop 31, Adkins Arboretum. Oh, it was worth the trip, a walk through an upland forest and an audiotour that described the role the natural environment played in enabling and hindering flights to freedom. Each track trailed off with different names of freedom seekers, and I wanted to know them all. William Still kept a book of all who passed through his Philadelphia office. Two of them turned out to be the brothers his parents had had to leave behind. They’d been sold to Kentucky, but 27 years later, they were free, too. The sun had come out, and it was hot and sticky and the bugs, oh the bugs. In a car you. Don’t feel it. It’s different on a bike, too. Today was a good day to take a bit, slow down, walk, and listen.
Tuesday was hot. Humid and hot, and I woke up kind of dreading the thought of a bike ride, to be honest, so I left the hotel early so I could get some miles in before the heat really laid in. Oh, I’m so glad I did. I drove the bike out to Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge and followed the signs for the bike route. I took my right onto Wildlife Road, paid my one dollar entry fee, and then I was at the edges of the earth, which is how wetlands feel to me, both land and water, and the road set precariously and temporarily between the two. Dragonflies zipped all around me, and red-winged blackbirds were everywhere. I saw more herons and egrets than I could count, and the smell–the smell!–was so *clean*. I snapped this picture from an overlook, but if I’d taken the picture facing the other way, there would have been more water, and a stand of trees in the foreground. That’s the thing with wetlands–you have to be there to see it all, and what you see will be different in a heartbeat. I rode away from this lookout, took my left back out on the main road, and was joined by flapping herons and young eagles just barely above my head (or that’s how it felt anyway) and it was all so fantastic I heard myself actually say out loud, “this is magic,” because it was. I extended my ride as long as I could, relearning, again, that if you’re traveling fast and easy, you just might have a tailwind, and you’re going to have to pay it back going the other way. I spent the rest of my day in the car, following ghosts down back roads and getting myself good and lost trying to find the end of Hoopersville Road. So many lives lived and being lived on the same shifting ground.
I got up early, hitched a ride to the train station to the airport to a bus and another bus and then finally I picked up a rental car for his week’s summer trip along the Harriet Tubman Byway along the Eastern Shore. And of course I brought my bike with me. Today’s ride started from the Dorchester County Visitor Center. I eschewed the one or so mile path that goes between the center and the one giant golf spa resort hotel in town and went for a ride through town instead. The woman gave me excellent directions and three different maps, but I got so caught up in her use of the highlighter to show me where I should go, and where I shouldn’t go, no matter what, that I failed to pay attention to the first direction. I took a left instead of a right and got myself lost–I take after my dad that way. Continue reading
Wednesday was so ridiculously hot and humid. As I was getting ready to head out, I idly wondered if it would feel hotter because they’d told me we’d reach a heat index of 106 degrees, or it would actually just *feel* that hot. And then I went outside, and it was just plain hot. My ride started with a quick mile and a half up the hill and over to the YMCA where I exercised in air conditioned comfort before heading home and swapping out bikes for the much hotter ride to campus, by way of the MARC train. It was the kind of hot where the wind going downhill feels like it’s blowing from a furnace–no cooling there. Continue reading