Last week was a sweaty one, the first of the summer here in Baltimore. It was just so hot, and I found myself a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to ride my bike in it. I talked myself through it: you’ve ridden through 8 summers in Baltimore and New Orleans, every single one of them way too hot to ride through. You’ll sweat, but that’s it, so just sweat through it. Go as slow as you need to, it’s not a race, you’ll acclimate. Ultimately, though, since I don’t have a car and the bus is so unreliable, bicycling is my best choice for getting around, and I’ve got places to go.
So I spent my week riding my bike in hot and humid air and felt the joy that comes when you realize yeah, you can do it, no big deal.
I mostly rode to and from work and appointments, but Friday was my birthday, and I always take a bike ride on my birthday. I turned 42. 41 was a fine year. We got some small scale plumbing work done. My co-editor and I got a book contract for our edited volume about Baltimore. I came out of the grief haze enough to feel some moments of real joy. I spent a bunch of hours floating in a tank in West Baltimore. I rode my bike all over Detroit. I went to Milwaukee–twice. I took a boat to the Channel Islands, watched my sister run the NYC marathon and smash her goal time by almost 15 minutes. I went to St. Louis, New Orleans, Shenandoah, Scranton, the Eastern Shore, Napa, a hot springs down I5, and Montreal. I got married to the ladyfriend. I built a relationship with my stepmom. And I rode my bike all over Baltimore and fell in love with the protected bike lane on Maryland Avenue. Big year.
I kicked off 42 with some grading and some staring at the internet. I mostly do those two things every day during the summer. I next hopped on the bike for a quick pedal down to meet N. and R. for afternoon beers and fries in celebration of ME. I had about four hours after lunch before meeting a bunch of friends for a baseball game. I pedaled out toward the casino for a stop at their bathroom and to drop $20. I then rode out and around the casino parking lot, the bus station, the gas station, the trash incinerator, and then out toward Cherry Hill. It felt so good to just ride, especially when I got to the path out in Middle Branch Park. Everything’s green and growing out there, and someone’s surrounded a portable seat with stone piles, a sign that there’s royalty out here. I rode to the end and sat on the pier for awhile and watched this view of the city, all grayed out with these storms they keep promising but that just won’t come. A couple guys were fishing, another guy was catching crabs, and I was snapping pictures and not there for long.
Which I wasn’t–time to head back to Camden Yards for a lazy night at the ballpark and solo ride home in the dark. That’s one of my favorite kinds of rides, and I felt free. I love and am loved, and I can’t believe my good fortune to be living this life here right now. Here’s to another year of riding my bike around.