Row Houses at Montford & Eager

Row Houses at Montford & EagerI’m not going to lie, when the alarms went off at 5:30 this morning I would have been happy to turn them off and go straight back to sleep. But no, I dragged myself out of bed, put on yesterday’s damp riding costume, and headed downstairs to the easy carb loading offered by the Holiday Inn Express complimentary breakfast–thanks, Jackie, for putting it out early for us! We got on buses for a ride over the bridge before collecting our bikes, slathering on sunscreen, and putting air in our tires.

The first ten miles held us all together in single file lines, much on the B&A Trail, which looks different when you come from the Severn side and you’re on your way home, not practicing for later. I zipped past the first rest stop (which will return to being the Ranger Station after today) to put a little space between myself and the rest of the group so I could turn up some music for a little bit and just zone out. I stopped briefly at the second rest stop to choke down some snacks and then I was following the directions on city roads and doing my parade-waves as we climbed up and down hills that yesterday would have been barely inclines. And then, Baltimore! I saw the waste treatment plant and then knew just where I was, hopping on the sidewalk by the old substation, under the overpass, through the waste treatment plant’s driveway, around the corner and past the gas station and bus station, and then along the prettier parts of the Gwynns Falls Trail before heading over and down and over to the American Visionary Arts Museum. I’ve ridden this particular route a gazillion times, and my body felt better knowing just where to go. We all rode together back to the Moveable Feast main office for lunch and a reminder of just how needed this organization is. They provide meals for the chronically ill, transportation to and from doctor’s appointments, nutritionists, and a voice on the phone for folks who need it, and all for people who can’t get those things any other way, especially as the state contracts the safety net in every place possible and the market unsurprisingly doesn’t supply. The nonprofit can’t solve the structural problems, but ill people need to get fed, not just die waiting for systemic change. After lunch most folks scattered to cars and buses back to their cars, but I just loaded my luggage on my bike and rode home. No more farmland–now it was scenes like this one on Montford and Eager, boarded up houses, stairs pulled away from the walls, and weeds growing through the cracks. Across the street is a mural and an empty lot, a child’s bike in the middle. People live here, and how here comes to look like this isn’t just a coincidence. It’s the result of choices, and I wish very much we’d make different ones. I pedaled east and north and thought about walking up that last little incline, but it was still faster to bike. A left and a left and I was home again, home again. What a wonderful weekend.

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