I’m four days into my bike tour of the Adirondacks, spending the night in Lake Clear at a private campground with 15 other folks doing the same thing. It feels epic, this trip, climbing up and down these mountains that make Lake Avenue back home feel like Canal Street–flat as a pancake. Up and down, views beyond measure–like this one this morning–the full range of human emotion: euphoria, dread, fear, pain, loneliness, pride, joy–all of it. It feels odd to share this intense experience with these virtual strangers, and I’m so glad they’re here. Four more days, each one a new one, surprisingly little to say about what it feels like to have your breath taken away, in so many ways.
After days and days of oppressive heat we had a cool one Wednesday, light humidity, and it was perfect for my bike commute to campus for a quick meeting. The ride to and from easily took three times as long as the meeting itself, which is a good ration of biking to working, if you as me. I took it easy, preparing for the taking it easy part of next week’s bike tour, and I did a great job pedaling slow, looking around, taking it all in. There’s this part of the Gwynns Falls Trail that goes through a tunnel and then up a decent, if short, incline. I’m terrible at this part of the trail. Continue reading
Friday’s ride was a big one, and I was nervous. It was going to be long and hilly, and I was going to do it with my bike all loaded up like it will be for my upcoming tour. I did a lot of work in my head to try and avoid the ride–do a loaded ride next week, do a shorter ride, get a ride home–lots of bargaining, mostly because I was going to do something I hadn’t done before, and if it was too hard, would that mean I wasn’t really ready for next week’s tour of the Adirondacks? This is mostly just the nerves of newness, I knew, and I ultimately tamped them down, because J. and I had been planning this ride for weeks. Continue reading
I spent most of last week riding my bicycle around–errands, work, getting miles in. I could tell I was riding a bit too much–I was starting to get kinda agitated and insomniacal, signs of overtraining, so I decided I’d pedal it back a bit, following my pops’ rule: whatever you do should make you want to get back on your bike again. And then it was Thursday, and I had a good ride out and back to work planned–the bonus of commuting by bike is that your long rides work themselves in without even trying. Continue reading
Thursday’s ride was a lazy one, up to Druid Hill Park for a few laps around the reservoir. Sometimes I just need a break from the constant car battle to just pedal and pedal, around and around, without all that thinking about how not to get hit by cars. I did a few laps and then headed up the trail toward the zoo and the rest of the trail. This park sits right between Hampden and Mondawmin, and those two neighborhoods are so, so different. Hampden is predominantly white, and has been since its mill days when the hiring rules were native-born whites only. Mondawmin, on the other hand, is predominantly African American, home to Douglass High School, which turned out graduates like Thurgood Marshall back when it was the segregated high school for Black students on the west side. Now it’s got its share of struggles, thanks in part to the way when white folks are asked to share, they just take all the balls and go home. Continue reading
Last Wednesday’s ride was another longer one, up to campus for a mid-morning meeting, and then back to Patapsco Valley State Park, this time to find a trail inside the park, unlike Monday’s ride. A teensy bit of advanced planning can do wonders, but that’s not a lesson I seem able to learn. I also failed to learn the lesson that the GPS is not always right, so my ride out of campus led me, for a disturbingly long time, out on the shoulder of I195. It’s UMBC Boulevard for a hot minute, and then there’s allegedly a way to stay on that street and then take a ramp up to Selford. I’ve seen our cross country team coming back from this direction, so I’m sure that’s possible, but I couldn’t figure it out. Continue reading
Monday’s ride started out early, meeting B. for the commute to work. Wow, the miles go faster with a friend–I’m making a note of that. B. has done several cross country bike rides, and I asked him my big question: how do you eat enough to sustain day after day of 60-100 miles on the bike? His answer: Waffle House. Continue reading
Sunday’s ride started with a quick pedal over to R.’s house for a walk around the neighborhood and much needed catch-up time and a discussion of our various mid-life crises. And then it was time to get back on the bike and fly down the hill to meet N. at the Inner Harbor for people watching and a sandwich. I flew down there in about 15 minutes, because that’s what it’s like to ride a bike on a Sunday through a city with a dead downtown. We grabbed sandwiches, watched tourists wander by–those selfie sticks are way more popular than I thought they were, and I’m totally making team t-shirts next time I travel with a group–and then rode over to Fells Point for overpriced gelato and a walk to a shady spot where we could look at the water. I snapped this picture as we lolled about with the rest of the city and was grateful for a day of rest. And then we pedaled back up the hill, sweaty messes when we finally got home, cold seltzers cutting right through it. A weekend out of the dictionary entry for “weekend,” I tell you.
I’ve been back in Baltimore for a week, and it has been a lovely week riding my bike around town again. Monday’s ride took me up to school and back and had me wishing, again, that there was a bike lane on Wilkens Avenue. Googlemaps shows this as a regularly traveled bike route, and that’s true–it is–but only because it’s the only way to travel from the city to that part of the county, not because the infrastructure or road speeds make that a pleasant way to cycle. Continue reading