It is April in February, which means many days of breaking my father’s rule to never start a bike ride in the rain. That’s generally good advice, but that would mean a whole lot of time waiting for buses, and when the weather keeps spitting rather than downpouring, I’m generally up for the risk. I’ve been riding in lots of rain, just with my raincoat on and that little cycling cap that I used to think people wore to look cool when riding a bike, but which I now understand is pitched just right to keep the rain off my glasses. So yeah, I’ve been looking like a cyclist lately, and one willing to get soggy in order to maintain some modicum of control over where I’m going, and when I’m going to get there.
I was on a beach vacation in Florida all last week, so no bike riding–just beach sitting and wave bobbing for me. It was a glorious treat, but I was happy to get back to Baltimore, too. I’ve ridden my bike every day this week, because that’s what I do when I’m going places, and it’s too hot to wait for the bus.
Monday found me back on my bike after a long, restful Thanksgiving break. For four days I didn’t get on my bike or in a car, relying on my feets to move me from my couch to the movies to lunch out and about. It is rare for me to take that many days off the bike, and getting back on was like getting back to myself. I sped down the hill and up the hill, a right and a left and a right and a left, and I was on my way to work again. Continue reading
After days and days of oppressive heat we had a cool one Wednesday, light humidity, and it was perfect for my bike commute to campus for a quick meeting. The ride to and from easily took three times as long as the meeting itself, which is a good ration of biking to working, if you as me. I took it easy, preparing for the taking it easy part of next week’s bike tour, and I did a great job pedaling slow, looking around, taking it all in. There’s this part of the Gwynns Falls Trail that goes through a tunnel and then up a decent, if short, incline. I’m terrible at this part of the trail. Continue reading
I got up early on Wednesday to ride my bike to campus so I could get there early enough for a thing that, if I’d read my email, I’d have known wasn’t actually happening. Oh well. It was a nice ride in the still-cool morning air–what counts as “cool” is different in the heat of summer, I’ll admit. I zipped down the same streets I take for my regular commute until I took a left on Washington and rode through Pigtown to Carroll Park to hop on the Gwynns Falls Trail. There’s a golf course here, one of several public ones in the city, reminding me that yes, there are people who play golf. Continue reading
I’m not really sure what clicked in me that made riding a bicycle as a primary form of transportation so normal. I mean, from the outside it looks pretty scary, what with all the cars and pedestrians and chances to fall in sinkholes, and I’m hardly a daredevil, but somehow it was just instantly the best way to travel for me, and it’s totally the logical choice. When I moved to Baltimore the plan was to keep biking to work every day, like I had in New Orleans. That, though, was a quick two mile ride on flat terrain–10 miles each way to Baltimore County, hills included, riding with the big cars on Wilkens Avenue…well, that wasn’t so easy to stomach. Continue reading
Wednesday’s ride was all commute, happily since Monday’s rain-out meant a super crowded bus ride home. It was so crowded, in that way that reminds you how relative that whole “no touching” dictum is. I mean, if the kinds of physical contact happening on that Monday bus ride were to happen at the workplace, somebody’d be out of a job. Wednesday’s ride home was a different kind of slow slog, this one taking place right after I heard that Eric Garner’s killer was not indicted. That means the grand jury didn’t think there was enough evidence for any reasonable person to even possibly find the killer guilty of any kind of crime. It sucked the air right out of me, but I had the privilege for that to be a passing feeling, and I returned to breath, shallow for a bit, but there. Continue reading
Wednesday’s ride was all about the weather, the first commute ride of the winter season. I realized as I rode down the hill to work, the freezing wind eating away at that bit of exposed neck, that this week’s rides were mostly going to be about weather. It’s like this at the turn of seasons–a flutter in my stomach that oh no, maybe I can’t keep riding my bike all the time in more extreme weather, followed by a few rides that remind me that yes, even though a bunch of my two-wheeled counterparts put their bikes in storage for very good reasons, I don’t have to do that. I can’t, really, because I don’t have a car. And as my friend A. wisely points out, it’s way colder to stand on the corner waiting for the bus than it is to take a ride. Continue reading
I spent the week riding my bike mostly to and from work, getting used to the cold weather. Turns out it’s still not that cold, but if it’s early enough, I need my windproof gloves. And it gets dark early, so I’ve got to bring the ol’ blinky safety vest with me every morning. The ride to and from has gotten normal, the way commuting routes get normal. I’ve got my frustrations–that the lights in Waverly and Charles Village aren’t timed for my bike, the rutted asphalt of Maryland Avenue–and my favorites–catching the light at the bottom of the hill coming into Mount Vernon and the block between Howard and Eutaw on Monument that I only see because of this new commute. Continue reading
Ever since they started running the shuttle from downtown Baltimore out to UMBC I’ve just been taking that commute rather than taking the Brompton on the MARC train like I did last year–the shuttle’s free and easy, and I get to stretch my legs on the Surly, still my very favorite ride. It’s strange–I used to take that bike out almost every day, but now she sits quietly in the dining room collecting dust in between rides. But then it’s a Friday during October baseball, and the last thing I want to do is get caught in downtown traffic–the shuttle may feel like magic, but it’s just as prone to get caught in the cars as any other vehicle. Solution? Take Brompty on MARC like the good old days, so that’s what I did–easy peasy, the bike getting her own seat at the front of the train. Multimodal commute options FTW! And coming back into Penn Station in the afternoon made it easy for N. to pick us all up and take us home. I really never ever miss having a car–there are so many options out there that make owning my own car unnecessary. Lucky me. Could that be you too?