Monday was cool and gray, but the wind machines were turned down for the first, and I fear last, time for awhile–perfect day for a bike ride. I spent my morning in virtual meetings, my lunchtime with M., our usual walk to coffee and back, and planned to head out on the bike. M. and I have been doing the same walk to the same cup of coffee and outside chit chat, and walk back for years, and we always check on the cat litter that was dumped on the sidewalk just past the alley at the side of that burger place. Somebody dumped their litter box on the sidewalk, and still, at least two years later, there’s cat litter in the corner where those two pieces of sidewalk don’t quite meet. I’m sure who(m)ever dumped it has long forgotten about it, but M. and I can’t forget about it, especially because every single time I point it out: “Still there!” I like taking the same paths over and over not just to see how things change, but also what stays the same.
I decided to take my bike ride south this time, because I might be headed east for a ride later today, if I can talk myself into riding into the wind. I made a quick stop in Mount Vernon for an errand and then took the cycletrack all the way to Pratt Street, under the Convention Center where I used to get tested for COVID, dodged cars making a right onto Russell as I went through and around Sharp-Leadenhall to the curve by the brewery, past what used to be BARCS, waved at the monstrosity that is Top Golf, and took the trail around to Middle Branch Park.
It was just a bit after three in the afternoon, before the school pick up rush, and the park was almost empty. I love that feeling, of being the only one until you see another and you wave your how-you-doin’, my sign that yes, I see you, and yes, we do live in this world together and make it together. I got my how-you-doin’s in with a couple guys in their trucks as I stopped to snap this picture looking out over the water, Hanover Street bridge to the left, the Baltimore I’m usually in, straight ahead.
I turned around here and headed home, pedaling steadily east and up the hill, ringing my bell wishing I had another hour for more riding. I rode 15 miles and it felt like nothing. I think riding longer distances more regularly is making it easier to ride longer distances. My dad would be so proud of me for learning this lesson again and again. And again. The wind machines are back on today, it’s freezing out, and the ride downtown was considerably less fun that yesterday’s ride, but I still got to say my good mornings and look up and out at the city, and I’ll take that any day over a ride in a car. Gratitude, bicycle.