Looking Down the Ashokan Rail Trail

Bike handlebars are in the foreground and the rest of the scene is a long trail with skinny green trees on either side.

The ladyfriend is on a three week tour of the UK by herself, and before she left I asked her to put the ol’ bike rack on the car hitch so I could spend my three weeks driving my bike around to different rail trails to experience the true and, for me, rare glory of riding a bike without even thinking about cars. I thought I’d mostly ride around the airport or on the trail near my brother’s house in Riverdale, MD, but then friends were unexpectedly in the Middle Hudson Valley. I checked the rail trail app, popped my bike on the car, reserved a glamping cabin, and headed north.

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Cloudy Sky with Patches of Blue at 21st & Guilford

A chain link fence is in the foreground, and the bulk of the picture is of the sky. It is filled with gray clouds, with some blue sky peeking out.

It’s hot in Baltimore, hot and humid. We’re all complaining about it even though this is every summer. Biking in this weather feels like riding inside somebody else’s mouth, and it smells like it, too. My body feels it, heart rate all the way up even on rides I’ve done a zillion times. I was traveling for much of July and the first week of August, though, and missed my bike so much. Plus, it’s how I get around, so I spent the last two days of brutal temperatures on it anyway.

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Cloudy Sky Over Greene & Lombard Streets

Picture of a cloudy sky with patches of blue showing through. Tall buildings are in the background.

Monday’s bike ride took me down the hill to my usual bike racks, another multimodal commute out to UMBC. I left my house at 7:46am, and the temperature was a cool 73 degrees. Expect the humidity was at 98%, and yeah, it’s not the heat, it’s the humidity. Even though I was mostly coasting downhill, I was a sweaty mess, completely drenched through and through 23 minutes later as I pulled up on the corner of Shock Trauma, grateful for their aggressive sliding doors that gave me a blast of cool breeze as I walked east to catch the shuttle bus. I looked up as I waited, snapped this pic. That sky, promises of just more damp heat, held in by the clouds.

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Baynard Woods Reading at SoWeBo Fest at S. Carlton & W. Baltimore Street

Picture of a white man in salmon pink pants, a blue t-shirt, and a blue button up over the top of it. He's standing at the end of a long platform set up on grass that leads to a stage where string musicians are setting up. There are tents on either side, and a kid standing with a hula hoop. The sky is bright blue with just a few puffy white clouds.

It’s summertime in Baltimore, and SoWeBo Fest is back after a two year covid hiatus. I slathered myself with sunscreen and hopped on the bike to check out the scene and take the new North Avenue cycletrack for the first time. North Ave is generally a death wish on a bike, but the new paint and concrete curb got me feeling all brave. I don’t trust anybody at any intersection, and I doubled down on that for this ride, slowing, stopping, waiting, waving my arms, yelling. I know that being seen is no guarantee, but it’s what I have.

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Lake Montebello on a Misty Day

A metal fence is in the foreground, the middle of the picture is calm gray waters, and the top of the picture is a gray sky, all clouds.

Long time, no blog. I’ve been riding my bike, more than I have in a long time, actually. Up and down the hill, to work, to the gym, up to and around the park, as far east as I can go, as far west, almost every day. And things have been hard. It was a hard academic year, the shortest and longest of my career. There are so many layers of grief, so little time and space to parse through them. This world. I need a chance to catch my breath and exhale, even as there is no “break” for any of us, if we are paying attention and have empathy as part of our experience of being human. I’m fine, and I’m not, and I’m grateful for a bicycle and a circle to ride it around, over and over again, hello fellow humans, hello misty air, hello. We’re still here.

Empty Lot and Row Houses at W. Fairmount Avenue and S. Payson Street

Picture of an empty lot in the foreground with row houses in the background. The sky is bright blue and dotted with clouds. On the left is a street light with flags reading "Grace Medical Center" on one side and "CARE BRAVELY" on the other side.

It’s spring break, and Monday’s weather felt like it. I spent my morning reading in bed before hopping online to email students reminders to turn in work and answer some other work-related emails before heading to Mount Vernon for a panel discussion about Baltimore for UMBC’s Alternative Spring Break (ASB) program. Ok, so far it’s not sounding like a break, but I knew an out-to-lunch-alone and a solo bike ride were on the other side of things, so even the work felt like a celebration.

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Looking South Toward Hopkins from Broadway East

Picture of a street that dead ends into  deteriorating row homes with a blue sky above it and Johns Hopkins Hospital in the background.

Friday as the last day of work before spring break, and boy howdy did I have spring breakitis that day! The weather was bananas–in the 70s, sun shining, just enough humidity to kick on the dehumidifier in the basement for the first time in months–and I was itching to get outside for a ride. And that’s exactly what I did, once the last of the must-do tasks were completed, meetings over, time for the break to start a bit early.

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Sunlight Over Eutaw & Centre Streets

Picture looking down the street at an intersection. The sun is coming up about midway from the horizon. The sky is streaked with clouds and new light, and there are leafless trees against it.

We went to Michigan for the weekend to see family and meet our new baby niece, and by the time we flew back on Sunday, the time had changed, the weather warmed up, and spring was here. This might still be false spring, yes, but I already feel safe leaving my gloves and lights at home for my work commute. And for now, it’s darker when I leave home in the mornings, which means a whole new kind of light as I pedal downtown to catch my bus out to work.

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Geese and Birds Hanging Out on Lake Montebello

Picture of an urban reservoir on a gray and cloudy day. The water is partially frozen, and birds are standing on the ice while others are swimming in the water nearby.

It’s winter, and that means if the weather report includes snow, I try to get in a bike ride before the ice makes the streets scary for me to bike on. Snow was coming Friday afternoon, and I had a break between meetings from 1:45-3:00, so I put on a whole lot of fleece-lined and wool clothing, my windproof jacket, my tiny hat, and some gloves, and I headed out for a ride around the neighborhood.

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Looking Out Over the Water From the Bond Street Pier in Fells Point

The bottom half of the picture is blue-grey water and the top half is gray clouds with just a sliver of blue in the foreground. The picture is divided by a line of buildings across Baltimore's harbor.

I sprained my ankle really badly the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. I do all sorts of stuff with my body, but I didn’t sprain my ankle running or riding my bike or doing weird stuff at the gym. I sprained it walking down my own front steps, just a slip, my ankle bent all the way sideways, me in a lump on the sidewalk in front of my house. Ankles are tricky joints–like teeth and knees, a real design problem–and over six weeks out, it’s still a little swollen. Bodies, man! They are so good at giving us challenges and forcing us to listen to them, whether we want to or not.

So I listened, and I stopped running, even though I was over halfway through with my running plan and really into the steady three-day-a-week groove. Running is really hard for me, and I love the challenge of it and the way it makes me feel in my body, but nope, my body said no. But what if it’s time to say yes? I love running when it’s cold out, especially since I hate riding my bike when it’s cold out, and I want to be outside every day. Running is hard, but it is also so easy for me–strap on a sports bra and some tights, a shirt, and a hat, lace up my shoes, and I’m off.

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