I took my bicycle to DC last weekend. I used public transportation to get there and back, and while riding around DC, I ate lunch at a restaurant, sitting outside, pulling my mask down just for bites. It felt like being a tourist at the end of the world. The place was empty, except for the gloriously alive Black Lives Matter Plaza by the White House and the streams of local runners making their pretty much everywhere. I don’t know how they do it in the middle of the day, but there you go.
There was nothing to “do” in DC, because everything was closed except for indoor dining and the Museum of the Bible, neither of which hold any appeal for me. But there was much to do just in the pedaling-finding trails, following bike lanes, getting lost–something that always happens to me in DC, and that I hate–and wondering if the White House forbids Secret Service from wearing masks, because they were the only ones without them.
And then I rode back to the train station, wheeled my bike on the MARC train, and was riding up the hill to my house just an hour later. What a dream!
I only took one long bike ride this week–on Thursday. I didn’t really feel like leaving my A/C window unit-ed bedroom for the steamy outdoors, but I knew once I was riding my bike, I’d be glad I was riding my bike, and not in DC. I know my way around here, and I also know that if I give myself enough time, I’ll manage to get a little lost here anyway. That’s my favorite kind of lost–lost when I know I know where I am, but I’m suddenly not there anymore.
I headed down the hill on Guilford to the Fallsway cycletrack, down the hill, a left on Baltimore Street, a right into Jonestown, and down and left and down and left until I got to Harbor East. I used to ride down here all the time to go to Orangetheory. They reopened this week, and I don’t understand how anyone could imagine it’s safe to exercise inside a small space in a group. Was it really happening? It was. Noted.
I next headed to Fells Point to see if if was packed with the great unmasked youth of Fells and Canton. It wasn’t. The outdoor restaurant tables seated a few folks, but it was way emptier than it’ll be on Saturday. I walked my bike through Fells and north on Ann Street, because I hate riding on Belgian block. That shit is deadly to bikes. I was stopped at a red light at Aliceanna Street, and lo and behold a woman riding on that Belgian block popped her tire. Bummer. I pointed the way to Joe’s Bike Shop and continued toward the Korean War Memorial, a left onto the Potomac Street bike lane.
Remember how pissed everyone was about this bike lane that would connect two parks? My god. Just obscene.
Anyway, once I hit Patterson Park I decided to just up/left/up/left my way home to see if I could get lost. I didn’t, but I got to see streets and neighborhoods I hadn’t seen in awhile. And then I was coasting downhill and saw the Humanim building on my right. It’s like a castle, and then everything directly around it is, well, not. It is an amazing place offering amazing programming, and it’s castle-ness, for me, highlights the deep disinvestment from the neighborhood in which it sits. It’s so Baltimore.
I snapped this picture from a tiny bit of shade in front of the Humanim building looking across the street at that little guard booth in an old church parking lot. Nobody’s parked there, and they take no responsibility for items left inside the car. Sounds like an easy deal. What you see when you look which direction never doesn’t surprise me.
My ride home was winding, and I knew I was already too far north to avoid riding on North Avenue. When I popped out there I walked along the sidewalk, because wow, not riding on that street with so many cars. A couple blocks in, my sister called. She needs a bike bell for her new bike. She was nervous to go into a bike shop. It’s hard going in those places when you are new, or a woman. I’ve had so many terrible experiences. Go in there, tell them what you need, and let them sell it to you. If they are assholes, they are assholes. Whatever. You’ll have a bike bell. That was my advice, and she heeded it as I hopped on my bike at Barclay and North, just a little more riding in this heat and I’d be home. I never regret a bike ride.
Oh, and she got her bell, and the saleswoman just sold it to her, no condescension. Phew. I’m so, so glad she’s into riding bikes now.
People who buy bike bells should be celebrated and never given crap. Support to those who signal pedestrians and other bikers! (Though I have also experienced condescension in bike stores.)