I’ve only been on my bicycle a few times since my big trip through the Adirondacks. That’s partly because I was exhausted and my non-biking sister was in town, and then because I was out of town at a family wedding, getting chauffeured around like the girlfriend of the sister of the bride. And now I’m back in Baltimore, settling in for a long late summer and fall of no travel, and that means I’m back on my bike, because that’s how I get around this place. Continue reading
I’m back from my ten day bike tour of the Adirondacks, and here are a few things I saw, in no particular order: so many flat frogs under my wheels, the rats of the mountains; waterfalls; the old Olympic ski jump at Lake Placid; so many mountain lakes–where do they come from?; a thousand and one RVs; so many peanut butter sandwiches; many pints and bottles and cans of craft beer from upstate New York; ponds and swamps and puddles and pools; spiders and black flies and mosquitoes, oh my; pure joy; ice dancing; campfires; craggy rocks; fields of clover; picnics; convenience stores; ice cream cones; wildflowers; homesickness; uphills that look like walls until you get closer and realize they’re just hills; hard-earned magic vistas; exhaustion; a couple of osprey sharing a fish for second breakfast; a classic car show; Vermont; coin op showers; the Hudson River; train tracks; truck drivers; deep kindness; so many shades of green; and oh so much more.
And I learned so much: what goes up must come down, and vice versa; it doesn’t really matter what you eat as long as there’s something to eat; the internet can survive without you and vice versa; meeting basic needs and basic needs alone is a total vacation; take the hills as they come–not before or after; a little luxury is worth the extra weight on the bike; it’s not a race; getting lost means getting to get yourself found; some days you don’t want an ice cream cone, and on other days you’ll want two; showering is optional–take the option if it feels good; a bottle of Dr. Bronner’s is all you really need; given the option, jump in the lake; you can always make another pot of coffee; listen to your body and take breaks when it tells you it needs one; and a good general philosophy is this: Start off slow, then taper off.
What a wonderful trip. Good god, I love my bicycle.
I’m four days into my bike tour of the Adirondacks, spending the night in Lake Clear at a private campground with 15 other folks doing the same thing. It feels epic, this trip, climbing up and down these mountains that make Lake Avenue back home feel like Canal Street–flat as a pancake. Up and down, views beyond measure–like this one this morning–the full range of human emotion: euphoria, dread, fear, pain, loneliness, pride, joy–all of it. It feels odd to share this intense experience with these virtual strangers, and I’m so glad they’re here. Four more days, each one a new one, surprisingly little to say about what it feels like to have your breath taken away, in so many ways.
After days and days of oppressive heat we had a cool one Wednesday, light humidity, and it was perfect for my bike commute to campus for a quick meeting. The ride to and from easily took three times as long as the meeting itself, which is a good ration of biking to working, if you as me. I took it easy, preparing for the taking it easy part of next week’s bike tour, and I did a great job pedaling slow, looking around, taking it all in. There’s this part of the Gwynns Falls Trail that goes through a tunnel and then up a decent, if short, incline. I’m terrible at this part of the trail. Continue reading
Friday’s ride was a big one, and I was nervous. It was going to be long and hilly, and I was going to do it with my bike all loaded up like it will be for my upcoming tour. I did a lot of work in my head to try and avoid the ride–do a loaded ride next week, do a shorter ride, get a ride home–lots of bargaining, mostly because I was going to do something I hadn’t done before, and if it was too hard, would that mean I wasn’t really ready for next week’s tour of the Adirondacks? This is mostly just the nerves of newness, I knew, and I ultimately tamped them down, because J. and I had been planning this ride for weeks. Continue reading
I spent most of last week riding my bicycle around–errands, work, getting miles in. I could tell I was riding a bit too much–I was starting to get kinda agitated and insomniacal, signs of overtraining, so I decided I’d pedal it back a bit, following my pops’ rule: whatever you do should make you want to get back on your bike again. And then it was Thursday, and I had a good ride out and back to work planned–the bonus of commuting by bike is that your long rides work themselves in without even trying. Continue reading
Thursday’s ride was a lazy one, up to Druid Hill Park for a few laps around the reservoir. Sometimes I just need a break from the constant car battle to just pedal and pedal, around and around, without all that thinking about how not to get hit by cars. I did a few laps and then headed up the trail toward the zoo and the rest of the trail. This park sits right between Hampden and Mondawmin, and those two neighborhoods are so, so different. Hampden is predominantly white, and has been since its mill days when the hiring rules were native-born whites only. Mondawmin, on the other hand, is predominantly African American, home to Douglass High School, which turned out graduates like Thurgood Marshall back when it was the segregated high school for Black students on the west side. Now it’s got its share of struggles, thanks in part to the way when white folks are asked to share, they just take all the balls and go home. Continue reading