Looking South from 35th & Old York Road

A residential street with row houses on the right side and trees on the left.

I needed to do a long ride, or a long ride for me. I increased my mileage too much too soon, and I gave myself some shoulder and neck pain that was my body’s way of telling me to slow down and take a break. I did that, it helped, but I missed the long ride. Monday I’d go for 20 miles, I told myself over the weekend, and when Monday came, I was a little scared to do it. I have ridden 20 miles many, many times in my life, and I rode 15 last week, but sometimes I still get a little bit anxious. So I did some work tasks, took an online German class, but then, instead of waiting all day to see if I would be able to ride 20 miles, I just headed out the door at 10am to see how it would go.

I am a genius, so rather than just bundling up, I took a minute outside to see what the weather felt like to decide to leave my coat at home. Great idea. It was cool but sunny, and I was quickly already warm in long sleeves. Riding without a coat after a long winter of coat riding is always such a treat. When they said, “It’s the little things,” they were right.

I decided to do a tour of the city’s reservoirs, so headed east first, a half turn and a half turn around Lake Montebello, up and down Harford Road, into Herring Run, the loop, back again, and then headed to the Guilford reservoir. The circle around this one is the only open circle in town right now. For those of us who find riding in circles helpful, this is not great. Guilford is teensy tiny, and if even one or two people are walking around it, bikes are too much. But I needed to get miles and some uphill and was motivated by the three-reservoir ride to head that way.

I stopped on my way there, at 35th and Old York Road, to change my podcast, drink some water, and reset for a minute. I looked south, remembered living here, remembered biking up and down this street every day, remembered when Robert Ponsi, riding his bike home from that Irish pub nobody goes to in Harbor East, was attacked and killed here, stabbed to death by kids. Ponsi died, teenagers were tried as adults, such a vacant vision of justice. So many lives ruined that day, and the next day I was biking up and down this street, because I lived there, people live here, traveling up and down streets, living entirely different realities.

I put my water bottle back on my bike, hit play on the second podcast of the day (I listen on a bluetooth speaker–not headphones–calm down everybody), and was on my way. Two blocks later I was in Guilford, but I might as well have been on a different planet. This border is one of the most striking in the city, if you are looking to see what that whole “two Baltimores” thing is about.

I headed up, west, up, east, south, a turn around Sherwood Gardens–I can’t imagine one of those on the other side of Greenmount–and then made my way to Druid Hill Park. It is the best park, in my opinion, and maybe someday the circle will open up again. I have lived here long enough to have used that place to get over multiple heartbreaks, and I want it back, because there’s always another heartbreak that needs to do laps. I headed home, 20 miles in the books, grateful to have time on a Monday for this.

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