I haven’t been posting a whole lot lately, but that doesn’t mean I haven’t been riding the bike. When it’s your means of transportation 95% of the time, you’re pretty much guaranteed a ride every day. That’s my favorite part of living car-free, and it’s working. Some highlights from the past week or so include finally getting a good ride up the Fallsway bike path again and wondering why people complain so much about being routed by the prison–at least you’re not in it, and why do we want to hide what we do to each other with all our cages? Oh, I think I know some answers to that one, and they aren’t pretty. Continue reading
It was another week of mostly commuting as I get back in the swing of on campus work again. Friday was another trip on the new shuttle, and I took that easy morning route, snaking through Waverly and Abell on my way to Maryland Avenue for a speedy straight shot down to Lombard for a right into the bus/bike lane and the few blocks to Greene. I got there early because I don’t yet know how to get to a public transit stop any other way and waited. I took this picture of the layers of old buildings against each other and idly wondered if when they were new anyone thought they’d be this old someday. Will our new buildings last like these? Did anyone argue they were ugly or out of place with the existing architecture our displaced too many people? Will someone in 100 years stare at the new casino and wonder the same things? And then the shuttle came and there were meetings and meetings and a too-long wait for the ride back and a better ride home than last time. I finally see what all the fuss is about, Park Ave. I wonder how long until this all seems the normal way to get around.
Classes started last week, just as they have for the past ten years I’ve been teaching. There’s always something different–a new syllabus or classroom, a new office or a new class blog, and always there are new students, familiar but different, and each group has to find its own chemistry. Sometimes, though, a new semester means something earth-shatteringly new that makes everything different. Like this past week, when I got an email the day before the new semester began announcing a free shuttle service between downtown Baltimore and UMBC. Wow. This is a game-changer for so many of us–or at least enough of us to justify the expense and to make them keep the shuttle line. My excitement was not without some reservation. Continue reading
Wednesday saw the return of Brompty to the bike lineup as we headed back to campus after a month-long hiatus. I love the world the folding bike opens up for me, but this girl doesn’t have the gearing to do hills with ease, and the new commute adds two hills. That isn’t a lot, but it was enough to make me nervous about how much time I’d be adding to the commute with the move, and I was happy to have a chance to get that first go out of the way. I aired up the tires, unfolded the pieces, dusted off the seat, and was on my way, reminding myself–out loud–that I was not in a hurry. As long as I remember that I’ve got time and can sit myself in the easiest gear I need my knees can take whatever hills are there. Turns out the added mile and a half was just an extra mile and a half of flowers and how-you-doin’s and neighbors and then I was back on Saint Paul, flying down the hill to the train station in maybe 10 more minutes than from the old place–that’ll work, especially with the added bonus of taking the left lane on 33rd for a turn onto Barclay. There’s something about vehicular cycling that really gets me going, especially when I’m on Brompty. Continue reading
School’s basically out for summer, minus a whole lot of grading and the part where I start teaching summer school in less than two weeks, but hey, school’s out for summer! Woot! But first: Wednesday’s meeting. The thing didn’t start til 10, so that meant I had plenty of time to ride my bike down and up the hill to meet A. for a ride out to the suburbs. The ride’s always a bit slower during rush hour even though I’m not a car, probably because I’m one of those (mostly) rule following cyclists who stops at red lights and tends not to snake up the side of cars–pass me once, and you’re done. It was a bit slower, but I also just like feeling myself a part of the traffic flow, and oh, so much better than tin canning it by myself. Continue reading
Sometimes I’m too tired to ride a bike because I’m not sleeping well, but that’s how I get to work, so bike I shall. And then I’m stopped outside the West Baltimore MARC station, staring out the window at cars queuing up for the slow snake back to Baltimore, and I’m relieved I never have to wait in that line, even if that means biking when I’m not in the mood or waiting at bus stops. Anything but a car, I swear.
Monday’s ride took me over to East Baltimore to meet with the folks at the Creative Alliance to talk about the upcoming LGBT film festival. It was already hot, because that’s what a late summer day fast forwarded to May feels like, but oh, it felt good to be riding through it, especially after a weekend spent entirely in a car. Yeah, I needed to shake that off with a ride. By the time I pulled into the rack at Eastern and S. East I was plenty reminded of the need to bring water at all times when biking in Baltimore. Hills in heat are a different animal from NOLA’s even streets. I remember my cruel introduction to this fact on a long ride up Fulton Avenue on a rented 3-speed a few Julys ago on my first trip to Baltimore. Continue reading
I love not having a car, but Friday was one of those days when having a car would have been kinda great. I had an appointment up in Roland Park and then had to be out in the suburbs at UMBC and then back in Roland Park to judge an evening debate tournament. And I was out of coffee. In a car, I just would have made the rounds, but on a bike it felt like climbing hill after hill after hill, always needing to leave a little early to get to the next thing on time. And I didn’t have a chance to get coffee until 1:30 in the afternoon, on my way home to swap Brompty back out for the Surly. But you know what? As I climbed up Roland Avenue for the second time, I realized how lucky it is to want to ride my bike, to take such joy in the feel of it all, and to live in a body that lets me do it. Continue reading
Spring took a holiday on Tuesday, trading the 80 degree sunshine for cold wind, rain, and ice. I figured it couldn’t be serious and dressed entirely inappropriately, like one of those college kids who wear cargo shorts and flip flops as their year-round uniform, except mine is a skirt, t-shirt, and sweatshirt for those really wintry days. The morning commute was fine–the humidity and remaining warmth meant I got sweaty inside the ol’ rain coat, but otherwise, meh. Oh, but the commute home–the worst of the winter, really, proving the old adage from my pops that there’s no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing. Fortunately, Brompty brought her rain gear and weathered it all fine. And in the end, I made it home, where I got to take a hot shower and cuddle up with some cats , and it felt all the better for the yuck outside. Yep, the worst day on the bike is better than the best day in the car.
N. texted to say she wished she was riding her bike today, a most excellent sign for a happy future on a bicycle, and I agreed, but she had to work, and so did I, so there you go. Fortunately, I bike to work, so I *did* get to ride on this blustery day. I zipped down the hill, folded up the bike, and got on the afternoon train. It’s a different train then. The commuters are already where they’re going, so this was all tourists and first timers, and I felt myself getting all superior and get-it-together-people like a real jerk. I took a deep breath, put down my Candy Crush machine, and looked around, wondering what we’re all missing now that we’re staring at our screens instead of idly chatting while we wait. And then it was my stop, a quick unfold and I was on my way, stopping to snap a picture of this corner that’s got itself all blinged out for spring. This is my first spring biking past this corner, and I made a note to myself to watch it this year for a full season of changes. So much new right now, so much new.