Column of Steam at Pratt & Constellation

Column of Steam at Pratt & ConstellationThursday’s ride took me down the hill and around the Inner Harbor and up and over through Federal Hill for a day with A. and her sweet baby girl. The wind was light, which meant an almost balmy day, and it put me in such a good mood. I followed the newly-striped bike lane down Guilford down to South Street. It’s all scraggly, running right alongside parked cars, jogging right and left as it passes through one intersection after another. It’s striped all the way to the Inner harbor, big NO PARKING signs lining the street across Lombard. On this day, the bike lane was filled with limousines transferring rich people to the Renaissance hotel, and I was like, seriously? Continue reading

Leafless Tree at 29th & Guilford

Leafless Tree at 29th & GuilfordWednesday’s ride was all about the weather, the first commute ride of the winter season. I realized as I rode down the hill to work, the freezing wind eating away at that bit of exposed neck, that this week’s rides were mostly going to be about weather. It’s like this at the turn of seasons–a flutter in my stomach that oh no, maybe I can’t keep riding my bike all the time in more extreme weather, followed by a few rides that remind me that yes, even though a bunch of my two-wheeled counterparts put their bikes in storage for very good reasons, I don’t have to do that. I can’t, really, because I don’t have a car. And as my friend A. wisely points out, it’s way colder to stand on the corner waiting for the bus than it is to take a ride. Continue reading

Salt Truck Unloading at 32nd & Greenmount

Salt Truck Unloading at 32nd & GreenmountI’ve been off the bike since last Wednesday, off in San Juan, Puerto Rico for work. I swear–for work. I left bikes at home and spent my time traveling the city on the bus–just 75 cents per ride!–and on foot, walking around the old city with N., eating too much mofongo and staring at the layers of a different city. There were a lot of views, of huge lizards, feminist theorists (it was NWSA, after all), blue skies, cruise ships, police officers, stray cats, forts that have been used as military installations from the 1500s to the 1950s, happy hours at all hours (this is a tourist destination, after all), and candy colored everything. There were a few bike racks, but I only saw a couple people on bikes. Continue reading

Remnants of the Weaving Bee at Chase & Barclay

Remnants of the Weaving Bee at Chase & BarclayI’m still swamped at work in advance of a conference this weekend, so alas, Sunday’s bike ride had to end in getting some work done. Fortunately, A. needed a delivery of some packages from campus, and she lives out in Federal Hill, so I used that errand as an excuse to stretch my legs a little. It was unseasonably warm–the other cyclist waiting at the light at 32nd and Greenmount agreed that our jackets meant we were both overdressed–and I happily let the breeze touch my bare legs as I sped over and down the hill. Continue reading

Zipper Crosswalk at Eutaw & Fayette

Zipper Crosswalk at Eutaw & FayetteI spent the week riding my bike mostly to and from work, getting used to the cold weather. Turns out it’s still not that cold, but if it’s early enough, I need my windproof gloves. And it gets dark early, so I’ve got to bring the ol’ blinky safety vest with me every morning. The ride to and from has gotten normal, the way commuting routes get normal. I’ve got my frustrations–that the lights in Waverly and Charles Village aren’t timed for my bike, the rutted asphalt of Maryland Avenue–and my favorites–catching the light at the bottom of the hill coming into Mount Vernon and the block between Howard and Eutaw on Monument that I only see because of this new commute. Continue reading

Cloudy Night Sky at 29th & Guilford

Cloudy Night Sky at 29th & GuilfordI left my bike at home this past weekend when I went to New York City to watch E. run the marathon. Last time she ran a big race, I took Brompty and leapfrogged her for the entire course of the Brooklyn Half Marathon, and I got to ride the race route all by myself, without cars, and it was magical. I mean, how often do you get to ride on the streets–much less the streets of a major city–and never even have to think about cars? The NYC Marathon is a different beast, though, and I was expecting huge crowds–a million people line the route–and I didn’t want to get boxed out because I was carrying a bicycle with me. If you know me, you know how hard it is for me to travel without a bicycle, but alas, the priority was really to watch my sister complete this truly epic event, and I got to do that. It was all about the subway on Sunday, and the tears, because everyone who runs the marathon has a story of deciding to do this thing that really shouldn’t be done, and they’ve got their training plans and their injuries, and their best laid plans and their cheer sections, and it all happens, 50,000 times over. It was so cool to watch, and when she ran up to me around mile 21.5, hands in fists raised in the air, almost weeping as she said, “I’m doing it! I’m doing it!” well, I was pretty much cooked. Best ever. And then it was time for a few more subway rides back to the train back home, up first thing in the morning to head to work. I got to take my bike, and as soon as I was on there and pedaling, I remembered that how good it is to be home. That was four days off the bike, way, way too long. Next year I’m definitely taking my bike to the marathon, crowds be damned. I met my meetings, taught my classes, and then it was time to head home. It’s dark now, and that’s a whole different experience of riding, one that makes me feel like I’m alone on the roads. When cooler, darker weather sets in, lots of cyclists pack in their bikes for the seasons, and everything just feels quieter and lonelier, in a way I really like. Just me, the bike, and this dark sky with the pale blot of clouds. Thanks for the subway rides, NYC, but I’ll take my bike in Baltimore any day.

View Across the Patapsco From Middle Branch Park

View Across the Patapsco From Middle Branch ParkFriday’s ride started late, following a long morning of grading and grading and more grading. It’s simultaneously the best and worst part of the job. It’s a chance to settle in with individual students and see what they’re really thinking about, and a reminder that I’ve just got too many students to do that in the way I’d like. But I muscled through a big stack over fancy coffee and pizza, and I was ready to stretch my legs after. I headed down the hill and around the Inner Harbor, a quick stop at the tourist visitor’s center for some cash (I knew I was going to end up at the casino on payday), and checked out the empty spot where the Constellation used to be. A giant ship is suddenly absent, just its high heels left poking out of the harbor. Continue reading