Looking Out Over the Water from Canton Waterfront Park

Thursday afternoon found me out on my bike, no plans other than to be at the beer place by the light rail station at 4:30pm to meet my work wife for nachos. I headed down the hill to the Fallsway bike lane, then left to hook up with the Monument Street bike lane, and then up and down and over and down and through and into the Potomac Street bike lane. Remember when everyone was so mad about that bike lane? How embarrassing. Now it’s just there, filled with trash cans and cars, and, on this Thursday, me and my bike.

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Looking Across the Harbor at Domino Sugar from Fells Point

Baltimore has been “enjoying” a heat wave for the past week, though if I’m being honest with myself, it’s just sneak-peeking July and August for us. I absolutely HATE the heat and humidity. I’ll adjust, but being outside in the summer is just so much less pleasant for me than being outside in the winter, and it makes me cranky.

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Monument Between Ramsey & Ashton Streets in Carrollton Ridge

Monument with a soldier and eagle on a post that reads DEVOTION against a blue sky with puffy clouds. Streets are on either side, and a burned-out red brick building is in the background.

Tuesday’s bike ride took me first to get a haircut and then wherever I felt like going, because I had an afternoon free of meetings and assignments to grade weren’t coming in until midnight. Academics often complain about their jobs, which I totally get because complaining about work is a birthright no matter where you work or what you do. That said, that I could grab a few hours on a random Tuesday to do whatever I wanted to do? Yeah, most jobs don’t let you have that much control over your time. But don’t tell anyone I said this job is actually pretty cushy in terms of control over your own time, especially not after the year we all just had.

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Looking Out at a Cloudy Sky and Ships from Fort McHenry

Gray and cloudy skies in the background, dark water in the foreground, and two ships on the water.

I woke up early Tuesday morning–3:30ish–with my mind spinning about details, none of which would seem important in the morning. One of the things spinning around was where I could ride my bike after teaching that day. I’ve been so swamped with work for the past few weeks that finding time to just ride without a planned destination hasn’t been easy. I think it woke me up because I’ve been low key excited about that rare free afternoon for awhile now. I tossed and turned, got a little more sleep, and then was up, sending emails and writing and grading and teaching and meeting, and then the magic time came when I could get on my bike and see where it would take me.

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Flowering Tree at Barclay & 33rd

Looking down a street toward a busy intersection, a bright pink flowering tree in the foreground.

I got a new bicycle! It’s a blue Trek Domane AL 2, the most basic entry level road bike they had in my size at the bike shop by my house. I’ve been thinking about maybe getting a road bike off and one for years. I love my Surly, but sometimes maybe I don’t want to be riding a tank up and down the hills around here. Maybe I just want to go out for a ride with nothing on my bike but my ass and a water bottle. I certainly don’t need a road bike, but I want one, and then the local bike shop had one in my size, and after a couple of test rides, I rolled it on home to cuddle up to the Surly in the basement.

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Mattress and Christmas Tree at Eutaw & Academy Alley

Old mattress and Christmas tree in an alley against a red brick wall.

It’s March, and that means we get a li’l taste of spring, but it’s just a taste, don’t get too attached. It came this week, and it has been glorious–sunny, blue skies, and by the end of the week we even got a break from the wind machines. For me this meant hanging out with friends outside, but comfortably. It has been months since I’ve seen people live and in person other than my partner and not been shivering away. I was positively giddy on Tuesday, waiting to finish up my work day so I could hop on my bike and head down the hill for some quality time with my Work Wife.

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Boarded-Up Windows at Perkins Homes at Gough & Caroline

Boarded up windows on a square brick  at Perkins Homes in Baltimore

I was a grumpy ol’ crankpot yesterday. It was the first day back to work after a much-appreciated vacation, and when somebody put a meeting that could be an email on my calendar, I just lost it. I hate it when my time is wasted so that bureaucrats can feel like they have work to do. There’s so much of that in so many of our lives, and I wish that the way capitalism has resulted in a world that needs less “work” meant we actually worked less. Anyway. I was angry about the meeting, but then I was off the races with it, just huffing around, not doing anybody any good. So I took my bike out for a ride.

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Looking Up at the Blue Sky Above St. Mary’s Park at Paca & Druid Hill

Picture of a blue sky with a whisper of white clouds. A tree and a lamp post are also in the picture.

I was so, so tired by the end of last week. I start every week with a to do list that seems pretty manageable, and yet all it takes is a couple extra tasks getting dropped on the plate to throw me out of whack. By the time I hit Friday I was toast, and when I finished my tasks for the day, the last thing I wanted to do was ride my bike somewhere. But I was meeting some friends and collaborators for an outdoor meeting in the park, so I had to suck it up and ride my bike down the hill.

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The Marley Station Mall Parking Lot from the B&A Trail

I have been riding my touring bike for over a decade, and what my rides look like have changed in that time, because I have changed. It has always been my daily commuter from day one, because I love traveling by bike, and I hate parking cars. Seven years ago I used it to train for and ride my first century ride, and five years ago I used it as it is meant to be used–for a self contained tour of the Adirondacks. I asked my dad how to train for that tour. He told me to go on longer and longer rides, and then go on the two week tour, because the best way to get in shape for bike touring is bike touring. He was right.

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Mural at Pop Farm at 14 Schroeder Street

In truly thrilling news, my sister got a bicycle! I remember trying to get her on my old cruiser bike in New Orleans ten years ago, and she started panicking with fear after less than two revolutions of the pedal. Much like our dad bailed on teaching us to drive after one or both of us freaked out, I took the bikes back in and we moved around New Orleans on foot instead.

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