Monday was cool and gray, but the wind machines were turned down for the first, and I fear last, time for awhile–perfect day for a bike ride. I spent my morning in virtual meetings, my lunchtime with M., our usual walk to coffee and back, and planned to head out on the bike. M. and I have been doing the same walk to the same cup of coffee and outside chit chat, and walk back for years, and we always check on the cat litter that was dumped on the sidewalk just past the alley at the side of that burger place. Somebody dumped their litter box on the sidewalk, and still, at least two years later, there’s cat litter in the corner where those two pieces of sidewalk don’t quite meet. I’m sure who(m)ever dumped it has long forgotten about it, but M. and I can’t forget about it, especially because every single time I point it out: “Still there!” I like taking the same paths over and over not just to see how things change, but also what stays the same.Continue reading
Looking South from 35th & Old York Road
I needed to do a long ride, or a long ride for me. I increased my mileage too much too soon, and I gave myself some shoulder and neck pain that was my body’s way of telling me to slow down and take a break. I did that, it helped, but I missed the long ride. Monday I’d go for 20 miles, I told myself over the weekend, and when Monday came, I was a little scared to do it. I have ridden 20 miles many, many times in my life, and I rode 15 last week, but sometimes I still get a little bit anxious. So I did some work tasks, took an online German class, but then, instead of waiting all day to see if I would be able to ride 20 miles, I just headed out the door at 10am to see how it would go.Continue reading
Flowering Trees at Druid Hill Park
The ladyfriend was working from home on Monday, and as I got ready to head out on a bike ride, she was like, “You know it’s raining, right?” My rule, borrowed from my dad, is to never start a bike ride in the rain, because I’ll finish enough in the rain as it is. It was barely drizzling and my weather app said it wouldn’t be more than drizzle, so I shrugged and headed out.Continue reading
Sunset at N. Schroeder and Mulberry
I spent the weekend in Atlanta with the ladyfriend on a much-needed weekend getaway. We saw the Deana Lawson exhibit at the High Museum, took the bus and the metro, went to a show, took The Nephew out for lunch, got tattoos, tried sodas from all over the world, and saw a whole lot of girls in spangles and paint, in town for the Cheersport National Championships. My god, it looks so expensive to have a kid on a traveling competitive cheerleading team, and the moms look like they are simultaneously having the best and worst time of their lives. It was such a great weekend away, and we just walked and walked and walked. That city is geographically enormous.Continue reading
Tunnel to Nowhere at Herring Run Park
The last time I trained for a century ride I was ten years younger and hadn’t been through cancer treatment. I had a different body back then. I do, though, have a very similar body to the one that trained and ran a half marathon during the COVID lockdown, though, so I know if I give us some space and time, we’ll get to peak adult onset endurance athletic form together. But that means I have to be patient, which people who know me well know is most assuredly not by strong suit. I am also a compulsive person, so if I have a plan, it is very hard for me to deviate from it. This week, though, I heard my father’s wisdom: listen to your body, not your training plan. My body requested a drop down week in mileage for my long ride instead of upping it by five miles, so on Wednesday I rode 20 miles instead of 35, and my body is thanking me for the rest, I think.Continue reading
Swytch E-Bike Conversion Kit Review
This week marks my 14th anniversary with my Surly Long Haul Trucker. This is a picture of us on our first ride together (yes, New Orleans in February is sometimes warm enough to dress like that!). A friend met me for a photo shoot, and this is me, on my bike, talking on the phone to someone about how amazing my new bike is. I imagine I was talking to my dad, who was even more excited about the bike than I was. His motto was always “shop often, buy once,” and he had done a lot of shopping on my behalf. It was between this bike and the Trek 520–I don’t even remember why a touring bike was deemed necessary–and the LHT was a few hundred bucks cheaper, and dad’s good friend Tom rode it, so voila, my new bike! I ordered it from Bicycle Michael’s on Frenchman Street, paid half in cash from the six hundred dollar bills my dad sent me in the mail–always cash in the mail because as a former postal officer, he trusted the U.S. Mail like no one I have ever known.Continue reading
Military Vehicle Parked Along Dundalk Avenue
The thing about training for a century is that every week your long ride gets longer, and if you don’t want to haul your bike out to the airport to do circles around BWI or go to and from Annapolis, you have to figure out how to get all those miles on city streets with their hills, stoplights, drivers, and pedestrians zipping in and out of the street without warning. It’s like that Paperboy game we used to play at the Brass Lamp back in Boise. I looked at the 25 miles on my calendar for Wednesday and decided that yes, I was going to do this in the city because I don’t want to get in the car to ride my bike. Dundalk, I thought. If I zig and zag enough, that’ll get me to 25.Continue reading
Power Lines Near Orchard Ridge
I don’t do new year’s resolutions, but I do like to set a few intentions. They are never about how much I eat or weigh, though the internet sure thinks that’s what I care about. I did set a resolution in 2014 to floss every day, and I have only missed one day since then–on a trip to Jackpot, Nevada with my mom. I am so used to partners packing the toiletries (thanks, PK, E., and N. over the years) that it didn’t even occur to me to pack my own. I remember walking the casino floors as panic set in (there’s nowhere to buy floss in Jackpot, NV after 10pm) interrupting slot players to beg for floss. The looks I got let me know I was going to have to wait until morning, when I ran across the street to the general store and then stood outside their door flossing with relief.
So yeah, I can be a bit compulsive. It means I need to be very careful with my intentions. For 2023 I want to continue my meditation practice, because nothing comes close to meditation for training my anxious self to tolerate anxiety. I want to keep my gratitude journal–corny, I know, but I love it. And I want to ride my bike and cultivate my bike friendships, so I signed up to the century ride for Moveable Feast. The ride is in May, and I’m already training. I could probably ride 100 miles today if my life depended on it, but I want to ride that 100 miles and still want to ride again. That means I have to train. It has been a long time since I had a plan or a goal related to my bike, and I’m excited to be back to that. And I get to be on a team with R. and R., neighbors who are just so freaking cool. If you want to donate to support our fundraiser to bring nutritious meals to people with chronic illnesses experiencing food insecurity, please do so here!
This week’s long ride was 20 miles, and I was apprehensive about being able to do it, especially since it has been so windy. The only way to know if you can do it is to do it, so I headed out on Tuesday afternoon with those miles on my mind, no real plan how to get them in. I headed east toward Lake Montebello, where emergency construction has closed the loop. The loop has been closed at Druid Hill Park for so long I barely remember it, so now there’s nowhere to go to bike mindlessly in a circle. It’s such a drag.
But I did my half circle before heading down the new path to the Herring Run Trail, my favorite place in Baltimore these days. Sure, you have to cross some busy streets, but if you keep your eyeballs straight ahead, you can feel like you are in a bit of wilderness. The loop from my place to the trail and back again is ten miles, but I didn’t want to do it twice, so I decided to bike north and south of the trail near the end, to see what I could see.
And then I crossed Sinclair Lane and ended up zooming around the Orchard Ridge community. The houses are the candy colors and styles I associate with Habitat for Humanity, or the mixed income public housing developments that replaced–displaced?–neighborhoods in New Orleans and Baltimore. Orchard Ridge appears to be neither. And I was so glad to be in a neighborhood I don’t know and had to find out about.
Red-Gold Tree Near the UMMC Commercial Ambulance Bay
This week was mostly the same ride down and up the hill to my favorite bike racks–the ones just left of the University of Maryland Medical Center Shock Trauma/ER entry doors. I have been parking here for years, and I have my preferred U–one of the two closest to the building, the right side so I can swing my bike around to face out and still have access to my bag on my rear rack. I pull up, grab my spot, lock my bike, take off anything that can be taken off, toss those things in my bag, unzip the back flap of my bag, make it into a backpack, hoist it on, and head east on Lombard to my bus stop at Greene Street.Continue reading
Waiting on the Train at St. Claude and Homer Plessy Way
Ok, so this isn’t what I saw riding my bike around today, but I’ve been in a writing funk that I’m climbing out of, so I’m going to write about some past bike rides as I get back in the habit of biking and writing about it. This picture is from a ride I took back in early November. I was in New Orleans for the American Studies Association annual conference, the first in person since my last trip in November 2019. It was so, so good to be there, to see so many old friends, to be all sweaty and hot in November. I was going for the intellectual community, the colleagues and friends, but if I’m being real, I was going there for the biking.Continue reading