Last week was a lot of rainy bike rides and bus rides and happy near-misses of Baltimore landslides, but the sun was out this weekend, and N. wanted to try riding her bike on the street. With cars. Oh, really? You want to learn how to safely get around town by bike, you have come to the right place, my friend! We suited up–put on helmets and lip balm and grabbed some water bottles–and I gave her my best advice: be predictable, ride in a straight line, practice not swerving left when you look behind you over your shoulder, and remember that you belong in the street too. So much of riding with traffic is psychological: cars are actually exceedingly unlikely to hit you if you follow the rules of the road. They might get annoyed, but so what? Cars annoy the shit out of me, but I don’t purposely try to fuck with them. And then we were off, N. following behind me, holding her brakes on the downhills, swerving a bit to the left as she looked behind her and then slightly over-correcting, and we were downtown, a quick sandwich before taking our ride to the Gwynns Falls Trail where we could leave our car cares behind. I was scanning in front of me–another important bike safety strategy–when I swerved to avoid this baby turtle. We got off our bikes to check out our little friend, and N. asked me how I could have noticed it. Just like driving, bicycling gets easier and easier the more you do it, and all that nervous handlebar gripping eventually loosens, leaving you space to see the turtle and the owl I saw later shooting out of a tree in Middle Branch Park after we’d enjoyed a break on a pier, staring at the water, wishing someone would catch a fish or a crab, and watching ducks take off and land. We stopped for frozen yogurt on the way home, and oh, it was just the perfect lazy Sunday–a bike ride to water with a girl who wants to join you, and whom you want to come along. Best life now, I tell you.
A couple of weeks ago, my wife and I were running around Lake Montebello on a fairly sunny and warm day and we counted 9 turtles sunning themselves. It was the coolest!