I’ve had such a busy summer so far–teaching, writing, learning, walking touring, meeting, editing, etc.–that I haven’t had much of a chance to just ride my bike around. I’d been eyeing this Tuesday for a couple weeks though. I had a few things to do that morning, but the rest of the afternoon was mine to ride wherever, and with a weather report that had us topping out at 80 degrees, I was pretty excited.
Thursday was my birthday, my first one without an expected text from my dad telling me how proud he was of me and suggesting that maybe my 41st birthday ought better be thought as the start of my 42nd year. Coming into the day fresh off his memorial service in Boise didn’t make that any easier: I am acutely aware that he is gone and not coming back, and that’s still really, really sad. But then I woke up Thursday morning feeling celebratory–I’m alive, it’s great to be alive, I’m living an incredibly lucky life, and I wouldn’t change mine for anybody else’s, no way, no how. That’s a pretty great feeling, one worth celebrating by going out to breakfast with a friend, picking up a fresh flower gift from the local florist, writing a little about my dad, and then taking a bike ride.
Tuesday’s ride was a slow one, down the hill to meet O. and R. for a goodbye breakfast as R. heads out for two months of world travel–dang, I’m going to miss her–and then back on the bike for a ride to Locust Point. I was already on Maryland Avenue, so I stayed there, fantasizing about the cycletrack that will one day grace our fair city, and saving that downhill-through-Mount-Vernon momentum to get up the hill by the library. I caught up with another bicycle rider there, and we exchanged our friendly how-you-doin’s, and it was just nice to have company. Continue reading
Everything predicted thunderstorms Sunday, but Brompty and I had things to do, and I mistakenly believed my jacket was waterproof, so we headed out between downpours for a ride to Broadmoor to see M. and D.’s new digs, including–so awesome–the baby’s room. It was an easy ride, retracing old steps on new bike lanes. I remember when the very first bike lane was installed in the city, and now the are everywhere. And there’s a new streetcar line, though that one doesn’t make much sense until you remember the Super Bowl was here. Infrastructure’s improved for industry, not residents (and this certainly isn’t just a NOLA thing), and here the industry is tourism. And I’m a tourist now, enough to get lost crossing under the I10 and just avoiding a dead end to the freeway on ramp. I took the bike lane on MLK and smaked left on Galvez, happy to have friends who moved to a neighborhood I never got to explore much. I overshot my right, dead-ended and turned around, and finally got my muddy no-fenders self to their door for breakfast and catch-up. Afterward, and after another downpour, it was back on the bike to Mid City to see R. and her new digs.all the bike lanes and streetcars in the world can’t help with this coty’s lack of drainage, so it was all avoiding puddles and small lakes there and then after back to the Treme. I meant to head straight back to S.’s house, but then I saw the dogs, so many dogs lined up for Barkus, rolling late due to weather. I remember when this was an upstart, and it still is, I guess, even if Bud Light signs welcomed me to it. And you can’t just join the parade; I watched a volunteer close the gates of Louis Armstrong park on a rather stunned gentleman and his pocket pooch. You need a “marching pass” to join a walking parade? Wow. And then the skies opened up again–my luck had run out. 20 minutes standing in the rain and it was time to thow on the towel. I pedaled “home,” a soggy mess, happy to have seen some old friends–people, pets, and problems.
35 degrees is a whole lot warmer than 25 degrees, so I took advantage of the Christmas Day heatwave for a bike ride around South St. Louis County while the family all took the afternoon naps you have to take when there’s a Christmas morning with an almost-6 year old and an almost-4 year old in the house. I took a left and then every right I could until the No Outlets pushed me left and across the main drag to explore the other side’s subdivisions. It was quiet with few cars and just the occasional kid throwing a holiday football or a grown up taking out the trash (Americans generate something like 68% more trash in Christmas week than a regular week). I said my how-you-doin’s, but this isn’t the same kind of south, so I mostly got the cold shoulder, except for the one lady working ahead of the game and taking down her garland: “Did you get that bike for Christmas?” Good guess, lady, but nope, just out for my Christmas bike ride! Pedal, pedal, pedal, every street looked the same, every cul de sac the same three or five house curve. I snapped this picture in the Kirkey one and wondered if anyone ever sits on this tiny bench, and what would they think if they came out of their house and some stranger was sitting there. I wonder if this is just for show. I popped out at one of this regions many finer strip malls, sat in front of the closed Starbucks in a chair that wasn’t even locked down (we’re not in Baltimore anymore!), and made a phone call while waving away the many folks who hoped to get a cup of coffee out of the house only to be thwarted by holiday closings. Wanting to escape family seems to be a universal response to seeing family, no matter how much we love them. And then I rode home, snaking around one development after another, learning the hard uphill-ride lesson that the developments won’t let you cross over–if you don’t live in Assumption Hills or whatever, you are just going to have the hard pedal up the long hill to get out and take a left again. It took awhile, but I found the house that was full of my set of sleeping grown ups and faking-it kiddos and settled in for more screen-staring, together. Best Christmas ever!
Day two of the multimodal commute was so much easier than day one–isn’t that always the way? I loaded up my bag with work stuff, lugged Brompty downstairs, unfolded it in a jiff, and zipped down the hill. It was the kind of cold that makes your eyes blur dangerously. Oh, wintertime. The conductor from yesterday’s train recognized me and pointed me to a train car that would open at the Halethorpe station, and when it did it was just a quick unfold and pedal up the hill and down and up again to campus. Continue reading
Today’s ride was a short one after a lovely, lazy holiday day with S. and her family in Damascus. I fought all my instincts to stay on my couch under layers of blankets and cats to get on the bike and ride the mile or so to Waverly and this, J.’s Christmas Bonfire. S. played her banjo, J. kept up filled with warm cider and whiskey, and the rest of us provided cheerful company. I stayed until I was too cold and tired to stay any longer, and then I rode home on silent empty streets, my face stinging with the night chill. Even the bar up the way was closed tonight. It was all quiet out there tonight as I pedaled along–my favorite moment of this surprisingly nice holiday.