Military Vehicle Parked Along Dundalk Avenue

The thing about training for a century is that every week your long ride gets longer, and if you don’t want to haul your bike out to the airport to do circles around BWI or go to and from Annapolis, you have to figure out how to get all those miles on city streets with their hills, stoplights, drivers, and pedestrians zipping in and out of the street without warning. It’s like that Paperboy game we used to play at the Brass Lamp back in Boise. I looked at the 25 miles on my calendar for Wednesday and decided that yes, I was going to do this in the city because I don’t want to get in the car to ride my bike. Dundalk, I thought. If I zig and zag enough, that’ll get me to 25.

And that’s what I did, down the hill and over and zigging and zagging as I took the long way to Dundalk Avenue’s impressive bike lane. I headed south and then east, alongside the cemetery, a left on Holbrook to ride by the block where I think the plan is to turn shipping containers into houses and also because I used to live upstairs from Zach Holbrook, who also rides a bike. I headed south and east again to Broadway, a right up to Hopkins, but this time not to do any cancer stuff but to grab the Monument Street bike lane for a little protection until it runs out at the edge of where Hopkins gives over to streets they haven’t yet absorbed.

I needed miles so I turned north for a few blocks to avoid traffic and then zigged and zagged my way to Patterson Park. I did a few turns up and around the park, dinging my bell as I passed joggers and people pushing strollers and a very excited group of kids with a soccer ball, oblivious to any other park users, as it should be. I popped out of the park on Gough, took a right into the bike lane on Conkling. I stopped at Fleet Street, looked left with a nod to American Radiology. I remember complaining this place had no bike racks, but now I’m just grateful for them. They found my breast cancer tumor when it was so small the Hopkins radiologist was surprised they noticed it. I sent them a thank you card after my sister was diagnosed because I was diagnosed. You saved our lives, I said, and it was not untrue.

And then I was on Haven with the trucks, a left onto Boston Street to Newkirk to Holabird past Amazon and other warehouses until I got a breather on Dundalk Ave. Holabird, man. So many lanes. So many obstacles on its sidewalks. So many people waiting on buses for so long. I want a bike lane there–I was not the only one trying to safely bike around there! Drivers sometimes resent the bike lane, but I’m like, you resent me being in your lane so much more. Let’s work together on this, please.

Anyhoo, then I was in the bike lane on a street with a 35 MPH speed limit designed for folks to go at least 50. And that’s what drivers were doing, whooshing by me and pushing me into the parking lane because I fear those people driving OVERSIZED LOADs might not realize their load is hanging in my lane. Phew.

I hadn’t been in this part of the city in a long time, probably since I was last training for an endurance thing, and I was reminded that longer distances mean more exploring–my favorite part of biking and the reason to ride when I’m not just trying to get somewhere. I passed the McDonald’s where I got my first McMuffin when they started selling breakfast all day, Pinland Bowling Lanes, the piercing studio, the American Legion Hall, the dollar stores, and then I swerved off to zig zag around Turner Station, a neighborhood where Black workers at Sparrows Point lived.

This is also where Henrietta Lacks is from, and they have renamed a part of the highway for her here. They just renamed a train tunnel in the city after Frederick Douglass, and I wondered what they would think about this. You stole my cells and all I got was this stretch of 695? Are you really naming a train tunnel after me because I rode the Underground Railroad? I get it, and yet.

I rode around the neighborhood until I hit 15 miles, and then I turned back and retraced my route to get home at the 25 miles mark. I snapped this picture of a military vehicle parked in somebody’s driveway. There’s a welcome sign when you turn onto Dundalk Ave. that reads “DUNDALK Community USA Heritage.” I had sent a selfie in front of the sign to my boo, who gets nervous sometimes when I’m out on a ride like this and asked me to check in. She texted me back: So, is it more Community, USA, or Heritage? USA, I thought, when I rode past this guy. But also probably a lot of Heritage. Community? Not so much, at least for me.

As I headed back I spent some time on Holabird’s sidewalks, I admit, because it just got to be too much. And then I was back on streets I know well, doing the ol’ zig zag again on my way north, a few extra blocks in my neighborhood before getting home at the 25.14 miles mark. It feels so good to be back out there in neighborhoods I haven’t visited in a long time, and I look forward to next week’s 30 miler. Maybe I’ll head west next time, or ride out to the airport and back, maybe go all the way west and then back all the way east and reverse it, see how streets change as I move between those two poles. And these are the daydreams that make training for a long ride so much fun. Today, though, we rest.

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