Thursday’s ride took me out Esplanade in the new-to-me bike lane that took the place of a second lane of car traffic. I’m sure there were some angry drivers, but for me it was magical. This used to be such a rocky ride, but on this day I just flew, and it was perfect.
I’m back in New Orleans for a short visit, and I brought Brompty along for the ride so we could ride together. On Wednesday, we started from Treme heading Uptown for lunch with L. I stopped in the CBD for coffee and to marvel at all the coffee shops in that neighborhood now. The CBD used to be a dead zone, all boarded-up bathhouses and promises, but now it’s got a fancy grocery store, fancy restaurants, and I can’t believe that happened in the last four years. I continued my ride up Baronne–I’ve made this particular ride hundreds times, and I couldn’t stop smiling from being back. The cow statue was gone but the fork was still in the intersection of MLK. The cab graveyard was gone, those roofs are still falling in on those houses where folks were still sitting outside and saying how you doin’? I took the twists and turns, used my outside voice to remind cars I was there, crossed through the construction on St. Charles. I passed those steps that are all that’s left of that house, the garden at that charter school, the mansions with their porches and outdoor ceiling fans, a different world from the Central City decay a mile or two earlier. I ate a seriously good sandwich and L. and I caught up the last 5 years– we’re both doing great–and then I headed up to the levee.
It’s perfectly flat here, except for a couple of rises that used to be the biggest hills in New Orleans. I just pedaled, smile so big, checking out the river traffic and construction and wondering what’s puffing out of that factory on the other side. I saw egrets and herons and dragonflies, got a face full of gnats, and snapped this picture of old street signs unceremoniously dumped here. So much trash hidden amidst this green out here. I made it to the Huey P. long bridge, wondered what they’ve done with the picnic table that used to be there, and then headed back to meet A. for iced tea.
The ride back downtown took me down Freret–whoa that is all new– and up to Claiborne and back down to LaSalle by way of what used to be the Magnolia hosting projects but now looks like what it looks like where Flag House Courts used to be in Baltimore. LaSalle turned into Simon Bolivar, Chicken Mart’s still there, Planter’s Peanut Park doesn’t say anything about Planter’s anymore, but it’s still shaped like a peanut. I crossed MLK, zipped under the freeway, and was back downtown in yet another bike lane that connected to another bike lane, and then I was on the hunt for the Lafitte Greenway. I turned around on the hard rumblings of thunder and called it a day, time to fold up Brompty and order a drink at that fancy bar across for Louis Armstrong Park. Greatest day in the history of the world.
Thursday’s ride took me up the hill to place a large order at Popeye’s and then down the hill, over, and up again to Druid Hill Park to do a bunch of laps as I try to get used to clipping in again. I got out of the habit, and now I’m scared of it. I used to clip in every day, even just for a quick two mile ride to Tulane. I taught in my bike shoes and hopped back on the bike to ride around town afterward. They were normal–now they’re not. I’d like to make them normal again, at least in time to pull myself up and over and through the Adirondacks at the end of July. That’s what was on my mind as I did my laps, getting more and more and then less and then more comfortable with my spds. Continue reading
I got up early on Wednesday to ride my bike to campus so I could get there early enough for a thing that, if I’d read my email, I’d have known wasn’t actually happening. Oh well. It was a nice ride in the still-cool morning air–what counts as “cool” is different in the heat of summer, I’ll admit. I zipped down the same streets I take for my regular commute until I took a left on Washington and rode through Pigtown to Carroll Park to hop on the Gwynns Falls Trail. There’s a golf course here, one of several public ones in the city, reminding me that yes, there are people who play golf. Continue reading
Tuesday was my birthday, and I spent it as I’ve spent most of the last 8 birthdays or so–riding my bike around. In New Orleans, I would try to follow the same route from year to year, a chance to check on what, if anything, had changed in the year since I’d last notched one. One thing they all had in common was the sweat, so much sweat. Summer in New Orleans is oppressive, like trying to breathe in swamp water. Continue reading
I left the house early this morning, though not as early as I’d planned–I got waylaid by a pan of those cinnamon rolls that pop out of a can, and headed down the hill toward the Gwynns Falls Trail on my way to Annapolis. It was time to get in another long ride, and I was oddly nervous, I think because Annapolis sounds really far away, and it’s really, really hot and humid here right now. Continue reading
I’m not really sure what clicked in me that made riding a bicycle as a primary form of transportation so normal. I mean, from the outside it looks pretty scary, what with all the cars and pedestrians and chances to fall in sinkholes, and I’m hardly a daredevil, but somehow it was just instantly the best way to travel for me, and it’s totally the logical choice. When I moved to Baltimore the plan was to keep biking to work every day, like I had in New Orleans. That, though, was a quick two mile ride on flat terrain–10 miles each way to Baltimore County, hills included, riding with the big cars on Wilkens Avenue…well, that wasn’t so easy to stomach. Continue reading