Tracks at Jones Station Along the B&A Trail in Severa Park

Old Railroad Tracks Along the B&A Trail Near the Earleigh Heights Ranger StationIt’s Sunday, which meant it was time for another longer ride since, you know, I’m an athlete-in-training and all. I did that thing I always said I’d never do–I drove my bicycle somewhere in order to ride it. That seems so silly since the point is to not drive, right? Well, I need some time just sitting in the saddle and pedaling along, and I can’t into the proper groove with the stop-and-go of city biking. I strapped the Surly on the back of my car and drove to the train station by the airport and then just followed the signs. It only took about a mile to get into a rhythm, rolling past chain link fences and parking lots and gas stations and VFW posts and over the wooden bridges that add an out-of-place class to the loop trail. 7 miles later and I was somewhere I hadn’t been before–the B&A Trail that goes all the way out to Annapolis. This is such a lovely stretch of dreamily-paved bike path, and I felt like I was flying. I forced myself to turn back at 18 miles, in spite of being just a couple miles from Annapolis proper, because I knew I didn’t have an extra 5 miles in me. I’m glad i turned around, because sometimes it takes going the other way to figure out that you were coasting a tailwind. Yeah, the ride back was a bit tougher, and I wished I had brought more food, especially around 22 miles into the ride–lessons learned to be learned again, if I know myself at all. (Nope, I didn’t have a spare tube with me either–living dangerously!) I stopped at a ranger station, used the bathroom, talked to my pops who wanted an update, and then it was back on the bike for 14 more miles to the car. This wonderful stretch of road is part of the rail-trail network that replaces defunct train lines with paths like this one, an excellent repurposing that is also a reminder of how quickly the organizing apparatuses of our lives can change. Trains were revolutionary. They made enabled long distance travel, for goods as well as people, which meant they made all kinds of things possible, from westward expansion and the devastation that caused for all kinds of people to a robust war between the states, from national parks as tourist destinations to routes to freedom for enslaved people. You can’t really tell that trains were ever part of this trail except for the part where there’s a straight line that’s not for cars, but every once in awhile that history emerges, like here, at Jones Station in Severna Park, the 8th stop on a line that carried 2 million passengers per year between Baltimore and Annapolis and spawned suburban communities all along this road. Now it’s a trail for walkers, runners, and cyclists, the sort of amenity suburbs need to offer now. Pedal, pedal, pedal, back to where I’d come, three hours of perfect Sunday. I think I like this new project, yes I do.

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