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. The route didn’t get new until I popped off the trail and onto Annapolis Road, and even then it was just like riding in any other street. I put myself in an easy gear, pedaled up the first hill, saying my good mornings to the many folks heading to church on a Sunday. I took a right past a cemetery, a left and another left, counting churches and graveyards as I went. We’ve got a lot of those, it seems. Before long I was dropping into the B&0 Trail on my way to the B&A Trail–right at home. The trails were busy today–lots of couples, kids who looked like they were mostly helmet, pedestrians, runners with their headphones on, lycracyclists with a congenital inability to announce “on your left,” and plenty of folks like me–out alone for a bike ride. I gave my nods, said my hellos, drank my water, and reflected on what I was learning from this particular long ride: wear your bike shorts. 50 miles in a skirt and a tank top is mostly ok, except for the part where cotton kills and my vulva started to burn, only 20 miles in. These are lessons I’ve learned before, but maybe this time will be different. Also, bring more snacks.
I had lots of little conversations, from the park ranger who encouraged me to do the last 7 miles of the trail–“You’re on a bike, right? You can totally do it!”–to the gentleman on his beach cruiser, 40 in hand, who passed me on the way up the bridge over the freeway between the two malls (Baltimore Nature Trails, I tell you!), letting me know that I should just keep trying, I’ll get the hang of it. I stopped to take a picture of this, my favorite backyard on the B&A. It’s a very cultivated overgrowth here–take a ride with me and I’ll explain it. A woman passed me as I snapped it, but I caught up to her at the light. We rode together for a mile or so, sharing stories of what we’re training for and how, and it was such a nice break from the solitary ride. It’s a mind game, too, these long rides. That’s a lot of hours alone in your head, and today was a good reminder that it isn’t always alone, even when it’s alone. And then I was back at the start, and I took the light rail home, a quick pedal up the last hill to a beer I’d been thinking about for at least 30 miles. What a gift to be able to do this.