Two Bikes Along the Western Maryland Rail Trail

Two bikes on grass against a backdrop of trees with leaves just turning to yellow. There are also remnants of an old stone structure in the background.

So, this is a bit of a late post, but I didn’t want to not write about the glory that is the Western Maryland Rail Trail. The ladyfriend told me to mark out an October weekend on my calendar, she was planning a little surprise getaway. She is so good at the surprise getaway. Like the time she took me to a reenactment of a Civil War era baseball game because I love baseball and Civil War history. Or the time she led me to believe we were going on a hot air balloon ride and then it turned out we were going behind the scenes at QVC. I may be the only soul on the planet who would rather go to QVC than up in a hot air balloon, but the part where she knows that is what makes her getaways so great. I am seen by her, and nothing feels better than recognition.

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Looking Down at My Wet Self After a Bike Ride in the Rain

Looking down at a a bike handlebar and my wet skirt and dirty leg from biking in the rain.

I watch the weather, but what I’m looking for changes with the season. It’s bike riding time, so now the only weather I pay attention to is rain and sometimes wind. I kept hoping the Thursday forecast would change because I had an 8am dentist appointment over in Hamilton, and I didn’t want to ride my bike in the rain during rush hour, especially on busy streets like Walther, Echodale, and Harford Road.

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Cloudy Sky with a Bit of Blue Peeking Through at Lombard & MLK

Lookin up at a cloudy sky with a bit of blue poking through. The left side is framed by trees, the right side by a large building.

My bike riding these days has been mostly commuting to and from work. And then the rain started, and I hate riding my bike in the rain. My brakes don’t work as well, my glasses get so wet I can’t see, and it is just generally unsafe. No such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing, my dad and many others would say, but I gotta be honest–sometimes it is bad weather for biking. And that is what we had for almost a week.

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Blue Sky and Greenery Along the Herring Run Trail Near Shannon Drive

Blue sky dotted with white clouds behind some water and a whole bunch of greenery--trees, vines, etc.

I had scheduled my COVID vaccine booster shot for Friday morning, but I had some time Thursday and decided I’d see if I could just get the vaccine then so if I felt sick afterward, it’d be on Friday and I could feel good again for the weekend. I’ll be sick during Friday’s WebEx meetings, I thought, not during a bike ride on Saturday or at the neighborhood street fair on Sunday. Priorities.

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Green Trees and Grass and Blue Skies Dotted with Puffy Clouds at Druid Hill Park

Picture of green trees and grass with a blue sky dotted with white clouds as the background.

School is back in session which means less time to bike around aimlessly, but also more time to multimodally commute. Both are great, but I already miss the first. That said, one of the glories of being an academic and off the tenure track is that sometimes I have a Thursday morning that is just me reading whatever I want to read, riding my bike to therapy, and then riding around Druid Hill Park afterwards. And yesterday was one of those Thursdays.

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Looking Down the Ashokan Rail Trail

Bike handlebars are in the foreground and the rest of the scene is a long trail with skinny green trees on either side.

The ladyfriend is on a three week tour of the UK by herself, and before she left I asked her to put the ol’ bike rack on the car hitch so I could spend my three weeks driving my bike around to different rail trails to experience the true and, for me, rare glory of riding a bike without even thinking about cars. I thought I’d mostly ride around the airport or on the trail near my brother’s house in Riverdale, MD, but then friends were unexpectedly in the Middle Hudson Valley. I checked the rail trail app, popped my bike on the car, reserved a glamping cabin, and headed north.

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Looking Out over the Potomac River from Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve

Blue sky dotted with puffy clouds. A green tree is on the left side, and there are floating green plants in a river.

The weather shifted this week, and it’s still too hot for my precious self, but it is so, so much better than it has been. The timing is perfect for me and my bike. The ladyfriend is out of town touring the UK for three weeks, and she put the bike rack on the car before she left, because neither of us think I can be trusted to wrench the hitch rack on our tiny little car. I’ve got some open days between now and the semester starting, and I plan to spend as many of them as I can driving my bike to ride around new places.

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Cloudy Sky with Patches of Blue at 21st & Guilford

A chain link fence is in the foreground, and the bulk of the picture is of the sky. It is filled with gray clouds, with some blue sky peeking out.

It’s hot in Baltimore, hot and humid. We’re all complaining about it even though this is every summer. Biking in this weather feels like riding inside somebody else’s mouth, and it smells like it, too. My body feels it, heart rate all the way up even on rides I’ve done a zillion times. I was traveling for much of July and the first week of August, though, and missed my bike so much. Plus, it’s how I get around, so I spent the last two days of brutal temperatures on it anyway.

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View from the West End of Herring Run Park

Picture of a stream with lush greenery on both sides, a cloud-streaked sky in the background.

I haven’t ridden my bike in almost a month. I can’t remember the last time I went so long without a ride–probably during chemotherapy. Even then, though, I would occasionally trust my body enough to ride a mile to the new age fitness place to do sound baths and expressive dance. I haven’t been on my bike because I was in Alaska, on a two and a half week vacation. That was the longest vacation of my life, and I can see why people want to be rich and have lots of free time to travel. It was amazing.

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Burned Flag Pole at 31st and Barclay Streets

Looking up at a blue sky and porch roof. There is an empty flag pole on the house. There is a green tree at the right of the picture.

I grabbed my bike on Wednesday morning to pedal up and around to Hampden for a much-needed session with my therapist. I got a text just as I was leaving the house from our neighbor, letting me know the fire down the block had destroyed three houses, and “Word is that it was started because someone set a rainbow flag on fire. It’s terrible.” I called my wife to let her know, got out of the alley, headed down Barclay Street to see what was going on. I ran into S.–he told me the same thing. I was in shock.

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