I’ve been riding my bike all over town this past week–zig zagging through East Baltimore for late lunches, zipping down to graduation ceremonies at Royal Farms Arena–yes, it’s called that, and yes, I got to lock up on the fence right in front while everyone else was stuck waiting in traffic to find a way to pay $20 for a parking spot–and riding to SoWeBo Fest in West Baltimore for the first funnel cake of the season. Vacation has been oh so lovely, and I’m sad to see it come to an end, though it certainly won’t mean an end to biking around.
It’s summertime, and it’s a rare moment when I’d choose to take the bus. It was raining when I left the house on Thursday, for example, but it still made more sense to tape shut the plastic bag my graduation robes came in and strap it to my rear rack, hoping it would stay dry enough, than to figure out some other way to get downtown. Summer school starts Wednesday, but that just means a tweak or two to the daily bike ride, and maybe a chance to take the Brompton out for a few train rides.
I spent part of this first day of summer/last day of my summer vacation on my bicycle, this time heading down and over and up through Druid Hill Park on my way to Mondawmin Mall to pick up some cleaning supplies–but that was mostly an alibi to get out on my bike and into the park. Druid Hill was packed today, lines and lines of folks waiting to get into the pool–it’s open!–and guys playing basketball and a woman smiling so big as she unpacked her picnic for one underneath a tree. There were other bicyclists–and a cyclist, doing speed laps around the reservoir. I used my outside voice to ask pedestrians if they’d mind if I passed and wisely chose to just get off my bike rather than try to predict where those two five year old girls were headed with that basketball; a few seconds after I put my foot down, said basketball rolled away from the girls and hist me squarely in the shin. “I tried to get it!” one of the girls cried, but I beg to differ. I passed a big cookout getting set up and then took my left onto Gwynns Falls Parkway to the mall. Last time I was here it was all cops and kids, and 20 minutes later it was a “riot,” but today it was just a few cop cars–they’re always here–and small crowd of red-white-and-blue clad shoppers and a banner that read “Mondawmin Strong” above the entrance by the Payless Shoes on the northwest end of the place. I locked up my bike, did my errands, and grabbed my bike to get back on my way. I snapped this picture as i walked from the parking lot through the bus terminal to the street. I remember jumping behind a car in the parking lot, watching our police chief knock a kid down, listening to the giggling girls behind me who didn’t know yet–and neither did I–that we were allegedly in a “riot.” Today, though, it was quiet, closed for the holiday, and I wondered about that whole “back to normal” thing. May is already the deadliest month in Baltimore since 1999, and the park is filled with folks enjoying the sunshine. These things are both true. And then I rode home, a stop for lunch, and thank you, vacation.