I was on a beach vacation in Florida all last week, so no bike riding–just beach sitting and wave bobbing for me. It was a glorious treat, but I was happy to get back to Baltimore, too. I’ve ridden my bike every day this week, because that’s what I do when I’m going places, and it’s too hot to wait for the bus.
Thursday’s bike ride took me down the hill and east for a gym class and brunch with my dear friend and work wife. We call it “brexercise,” and it had been over a week since we did that, and that turned out to be too long. I was in a good mood. The lifted heat wave has been a treat, and having some time away from the office, even more so. I was happy to see my friend, and my body was feeling strong. And I knew I was going to get to see my radiation oncologist for a routine follow up, and I just love her, the radiation oncology nurse, the techs, everybody. I saw them all the time in one of the lowest times in my life, and I was looking forward to seeing them in this, a seriously great time in my life, which I’m getting in no small part due to their work.
The heat wave broke with a beautiful overcast day on Tuesday, and I was lucky enough to have places to be on my bike and the energy to ride. My first stop was at the dentist for a six month cleaning and check up. I am lucky enough to have dental insurance, even though it mostly covers nothing but these check ups, so I get them on the clock–I’m not one to leave money on the table. I missed one cleaning, during chemotherapy, because the Internet suggested I avoid it due to risk of infection. I told my oncologist this at the end of treatment, and he was like, yeah, ok, you didn’t really need to do that. When you live in the online support group world where everyone posts their nightmares, it’s easy to get swept up in it. But whatever–I’m back to the dentist, happily letting the father-daughter team at Dr. Shelton’s office have their way with my mouth. It’s a gift to get this care in a world where we’ve somehow decided eyes, mouths, and spirits aren’t work the same level of care as the rest of us.
That ride took me through Waverly and out Ellerslie to 33rd, anything to avoid a few blocks on 33rd. And then I took the lane and pedaled as fast as I could as cars whizzed by me, because two lanes headed in one direction with a median is a freeway to drivers. I pulled up on the sidewalk at The Alameda, locked up, and went in for what would be almost an hour’s wait. It’s so expensive in so many ways to access health care, and I’m intimately aware of the layers of luck that let me do that.
I left with clean teeth and a trip south and west again to the gym. I took The Alameda (I love the “The” part) to Saint Lo Drive through Clifton Park, a route I haven’t taken in a long time. The park is beautiful, though the asphalt isn’t. The rumblebumble strips to slow cars are great for slowing cars, I hope, but on a bike, it’s not awesome. I popped out at Sinclair, took a right, and a left on Wolfe and took that all the way south.
That single street ride, just two miles of it, is a tour of uneven development and displacement, and the racialized nature of those things. I snapped this picture at Chase Street, at the entrance to Eager Park, part of the new neighborhood, Eager Park. This was called Middle East when I moved to Baltimore not even ten years ago, but it’s been rebranded by the Hopkins development. Neighborhood names in Baltimore are largely real estate marketing tools, so it’s no surprise they’re at it again.
From the angle of this picture it’s a brand new shiny park, the green just coming in and promising much more as the years allow for new growth.
And then I continued my ride through Hopkins, across Orleans, and down through Upper Fells and Fells and west to Harbor East, entirely different worlds, all Baltimore City. It was a good day for a ride.
Monday was supposed to be the day the heat wave broke, but I think 95 degrees is still pretty hot. I’ll ride a bike in it, because it’s still cooler to ride a bike than stand at a bus stop waiting for the bus, but I’d rather not. So it was a quick one–just down the hill to the gym for a workout in air conditioning, and then back up the hill to home. My report–it’s still hot out there, and I’d still rather be on my bicycle than almost anywhere else.
It’s July, and there’s a heat wave, so honestly what I’m seeing on my bike rides this week is my own sweat in my eyeballs. It’s brutal, especially going uphill. I’d still rather ride my bike than bake at the bus stop, waiting for another bus that’s going to get trapped in the traffic nightmare that is a sinkhole at Howard and Pratt and street closures for Artscape. Seriously, a bicycle is always the best way to get around.
Sunday was hot, hot, hot, but I was in the mood for a bike ride to no particular destination, so I lathered on the sunscreen, filled up my water bottle, and headed down Barclay Street to see what would happen. The first thing that happened was getting soaked in my own sweat, but that’s just part of the deal, being outside in the summertime. At least I was creating my own breeze. I went south and then east, and then south and east again. I decided to see how far that new east/west protected bike lane goes. Yeah, it stops at Washington, which means it’s really for getting people to Hopkins, and that’s it. I hope the city extends it someday, because I wanted to keep going east, and there’s a lot of east left to go from there. The lane’s great if you live in the central part of the city and stop at Hopkins, but for the rest of us, it’s not enough.
I’m still riding my bike around, because that’s how I get around, but we are entering the hot and humid days of summer when rides get considerably less pleasant. It’s like riding your bike in somebody’s mouth. Or pedaling through hot pea soup. Or something else similarly hot and wet and yuck. But here we are, acclimating to another hot summer in Baltimore, happy to get a ride in most days to get from place to place. I snapped this picture on my way home on Friday. The sky was all layers of cloud and threats that didn’t come true.
Today’s ride was a bit different. It was spitting rain when I left the house at 7am, and then I spent the next three hours at the gym, working out and then staring at my phone in the locker room, willing the heavy rains to pass. And then they did, or close enough for me to ride home and still be able to see through my wet glasses. It’s a lot of weather-related rides these day, sunscreen in my eyes, dreams of a cold seltzer pushing me up the hill. It’s good to have a normal summer.