Classes started last week, just as they have for the past ten years I’ve been teaching. There’s always something different–a new syllabus or classroom, a new office or a new class blog, and always there are new students, familiar but different, and each group has to find its own chemistry. Sometimes, though, a new semester means something earth-shatteringly new that makes everything different. Like this past week, when I got an email the day before the new semester began announcing a free shuttle service between downtown Baltimore and UMBC. Wow. This is a game-changer for so many of us–or at least enough of us to justify the expense and to make them keep the shuttle line. My excitement was not without some reservation. Continue reading
I’ve been away from the blog for a bit, not because I haven’t been riding my bike, but because I’ve been writing so much for other things, and it turns out there are only so many words in me. And then I was in Boise for a week, sans bicycle, and then right back in Baltimore and back to work. And then there was Thursday, and I got to ride my bike all over, first up to Roland Park. I took Keswick this time, and enjoyed the interval training of its rolling hills. And then it was back down the hill, a couple of stops, and then the new casino and its massive collection of bike racks right by the valet parking. How can this be that they actually built in room for several dozen bicycles? At the casino??? Continue reading
Monday’s ride took me up to Hampden. I only moved a mile and a half away, but the way to Hampden is entirely different. The neighborhood is tucked away behind Wyman Park and Johns Hopkins makes it kind of hard to get to. This was awesome for the mill owners who set up shop there and only hired native-born white people and wanted to remain separate from the African Americans and white immigrants in the rest of the city, and for the white folks who want to remain segregated today, but for those of us just trying to get a straight shot to the acupuncturist’s, it’s really a hassle. Continue reading
Friday’s bike ride took me first to the train station and out to Catonsville on Brompty for a day at the office before swapping out for the Surly for a ride with N. down to Camden Yards to watch the O’s take on her beloved St. Louis Cardinals. It’s more than a little embarrassing to go to a game with your ladyfriend all decked out in enemy colors, but she donned an O’s wristband, so there was that. The ride down there was a bit slow–my left knee hurt on the inside and I was making the mistake of worrying how the ride back up the hill would feel instead of enjoying the ride down there. Staying present’s a tough job for this cat, but I’m working on it. Continue reading
Thursday’s ride took me down to the Maryland Historical Society (MdHS) for what is basically my wet dream: a party celebrating Baltimore’s bicycling history, brought to us by Baltimore Heritage, the MdHS, and the International Cycling History Conference. I zipped down the hill, and P. caught up to me at the light a block north of Preston. I asked her where she was going–she said she was going where I was going. I guess I’m fairly predictable when it comes to bikes and histories and things. We rolled up to the event, locked our bikes, and headed in to catch the last minutes of the vintage bicycle display. It was all high-wheeled death-defying velocipedes and old steel kids bikes and all manner of cycling enthusiasts, from the tweed-clad Victorian players to the single-speed hipsters to the family commuters, and we all milled about, chatting about whether we’d like to climb on the penny farthings or not (I was in the “no” camp, surprisingly) until it was time for the group ride with our fearless nerd leader, Eli Pousson of Baltimore Heritage. He led at least 50 of us up the hill and to the left to visit the original home of the very first bicycling club in Baltimore, over in Reservoir Hill. The velocipedes were a total hit with folks on the street, and the rest of us were mere background. Our next stop was Druid Hill Park, which apparently has been a great place to ride in circles for a very, very long time. I was riding with Bikemore President Chris Merriam who got his own looks for towing a trailer behind his bicycle. We were stopped at a light on a downhill, and one of those velocipedes was wobbling toward us. “I need a strong shoulder, Chris, a strong shoulder,” I heard, as he reached down from high above to grab Chris for a stop. A grab and then they both went down in what felt to me like slow motion, Chris falling into the web of the big wheel’s spokes. See? ALL bikes need brakes, and then I thought about the matching rhetoric against the death machine velocipedes and today’s single-speed demons–the more things change. Chris and I peeled off from the group after this, him heading home and me to a fountain soda and some minutes outside, by myself. Out was a perfect bike evening, even if I couldn’t hang with the group ride for long. I’m glad we were all there, and that the fight for bike rights to the road continues, 150+ years after the introduction of the first two-wheeler in Baltimore.
Wednesday saw the return of Brompty to the bike lineup as we headed back to campus after a month-long hiatus. I love the world the folding bike opens up for me, but this girl doesn’t have the gearing to do hills with ease, and the new commute adds two hills. That isn’t a lot, but it was enough to make me nervous about how much time I’d be adding to the commute with the move, and I was happy to have a chance to get that first go out of the way. I aired up the tires, unfolded the pieces, dusted off the seat, and was on my way, reminding myself–out loud–that I was not in a hurry. As long as I remember that I’ve got time and can sit myself in the easiest gear I need my knees can take whatever hills are there. Turns out the added mile and a half was just an extra mile and a half of flowers and how-you-doin’s and neighbors and then I was back on Saint Paul, flying down the hill to the train station in maybe 10 more minutes than from the old place–that’ll work, especially with the added bonus of taking the left lane on 33rd for a turn onto Barclay. There’s something about vehicular cycling that really gets me going, especially when I’m on Brompty. Continue reading
It has been a long few days of moving–this time not from one part of the country to another, but from one neighborhood to another. We’re surrounded by boxes, but are ensconced in the new digs–a whole entire house, just for us and the cats–with plenty of room to move around. This is the biggest place I’ve lived in since I left Boise in 1993, and the first easy-to-reach table and chair I’ve had the pleasure of breakfasting at since 2006. I’m not the best with change, in spite of having it as a near-constant, but this one’s going to be good, and it’s settling down, slowly and in fits and starts. Continue reading