2014 was a great year for bicycling. I rode in new places, got a new commute, and did a whole lot of exploring. I blogged less this year than the last few, but that’s because I’ve been writing more in other places, writing gigs I’ve picked up only because I’ve blogged regularly for the past five or six years. Turns out writing gets easier by writing more and regularly. Same goes for biking–it became my primary form of transportation back in 2008, and I am just so terrifically grateful that the bike and I found each other, and that now it is just common sense that if we’re going there, we’re going by bike. What a gift, to see the world from two wheels like that. Continue reading
Monday’s ride took me down the hill and up the hill to Federal Hill for another trip to a yoga class. Wow, it’s not easy, this yoga thing, and I felt burnt afterward. I tried to remind myself that yes, like any other new thing, it’s hard. Patience, patience! I was a bit frustrated, though, so I did what I do when I’m frustrated and kept riding my bike. I headed over to Locust Point to drown my sorrows in sandwich. The ride home brought its own frustrations, the ones that come with riding a bike in the city. I’ve had city riding on my mind lately after hearing of a terrible bike death in New Orleans last week. Continue reading
Tuesday’s ride was a tough one, straight up the hill and then down another and up one more on my way to an appointment in Mount Washington, winner of my Least Bike Accessible Neighborhood in Baltimore award. Then again, I got there, so I guess the least accessible is fairly accessible after all, but don’t forget your water. The ride home’s much easier, once that damn Lake Avenue is climbed. Thank you, gears, and thank you, self, for not being too stubborn to ride slowly enough the get passed by pedestrians. On the way back, the hill levels out right around Boys Latin School, with its sprawling campus and impressive tree canopy and bridge over the street so these high schoolers can make their way around the campus that looks more like a small college than a high school. “Living the Laker Legacy,” their signs say. Continue reading
Monday’s bike ride took me up to Locust Point, and oh, it was lovely after a morning reading for pleasure and doing some light grading. I followed the usual bikeway down the hill and up and around the harbor to Federal Hill and then down Fort Avenue. The ride back was just the same, and I spent some of each ride thinking about cars, as one must do, of course, when trying to share the road with them. There’s so much push back about bikes on the road–cyclists break the rules, they run stop signs and red lights, they refuse to use proper lighting at night to be seen, they ride too fast/too slow/too bicycle-speed to be on the road, they don’t wait their turn, etc. I get that. I see it, and it makes me unsafe too, especially when riders don’t heed my right of way as a fellow cyclist. Ok, true. Continue reading
Last week was a lot of rainy bike rides and bus rides and happy near-misses of Baltimore landslides, but the sun was out this weekend, and N. wanted to try riding her bike on the street. With cars. Oh, really? You want to learn how to safely get around town by bike, you have come to the right place, my friend! We suited up–put on helmets and lip balm and grabbed some water bottles–and I gave her my best advice: be predictable, ride in a straight line, practice not swerving left when you look behind you over your shoulder, and remember that you belong in the street too. So much of riding with traffic is psychological: cars are actually exceedingly unlikely to hit you if you follow the rules of the road. They might get annoyed, but so what? Cars annoy the shit out of me, but I don’t purposely try to fuck with them. And then we were off, N. following behind me, holding her brakes on the downhills, swerving a bit to the left as she looked behind her and then slightly over-correcting, and we were downtown, a quick sandwich before taking our ride to the Gwynns Falls Trail where we could leave our car cares behind. I was scanning in front of me–another important bike safety strategy–when I swerved to avoid this baby turtle. We got off our bikes to check out our little friend, and N. asked me how I could have noticed it. Just like driving, bicycling gets easier and easier the more you do it, and all that nervous handlebar gripping eventually loosens, leaving you space to see the turtle and the owl I saw later shooting out of a tree in Middle Branch Park after we’d enjoyed a break on a pier, staring at the water, wishing someone would catch a fish or a crab, and watching ducks take off and land. We stopped for frozen yogurt on the way home, and oh, it was just the perfect lazy Sunday–a bike ride to water with a girl who wants to join you, and whom you want to come along. Best life now, I tell you.
I took the bike out for a couple of rides today, first to Waverly to meet R. and O. for some scheming and then home again, a quick stop for lunch and a pep talk with N. I didn’t have plans to go out again, necessarily, but I wanted to do a little night riding to test out my brand new light-up reflective LED safety vest. I waited for the sun to go down–just a little after 5pm, a pox on you, wintertime!–and got myself all suited up for cold temps and strapped on the vest. And then I turned the lights on. I was all lit up like a Christmas tree, and I felt like the Safety Monitor as I pedaled west and north. Cars gave me a wide berth, dogwalkers looked on admiringly, and the folks waiting at the bus stops waved and clapped. Continue reading
Tuesday’s bike ride took me to Locust Point, but I took a different route than I usually do. Usually I take Guilford down and up to the Inner Harbor bike/ped path around and up through Federal Hill, but on Tuesday, the very last thing I wanted to do was dodge pedestrians. I took Maryland Avenue down instead, dodging the cars turning on Franklin/40 and merging into one lane on that steep hill at Saratoga. I love taking all the lanes in this part of just-west downtown because there aren’t quite so many cars and besides, it’s just the safest way to travel. Continue reading
The unthinkable has happened: I’ve misplaced my bike helmet. Now, I know there’s controversy about whether or not bike helmets really help, and I also know that in some of the most common accidents, a bike helmet will do little to keep me safe, but I also know that I feel naked without one. I am somewhat skeptical of the helmet’s ability to keep my egg uncracked in the case of a serious crash, but I also know that I always wear one, I don’t think they make things worse, and if, god forbid, I should ever be seriously hurt or killed when riding a bike, the last think I want E. to have to do is shake her head when asked the inevitable question, “Was she wearing a helmet?” Continue reading
It’s Christmas Eve and S. was taking me to Damascus-the Maryland one-so I headed out on my bike for an early ride. I bundled up because it is finally getting cold here and zipped down the hill. Folks were lined up under the JFX to collect holiday packages and again at the park on Baltimore, lined up for food. I continued my ride, locked up the bike, went for a swim, and then headed back up toward home. I snapped this picture while waiting at a red light. Cars, taxis, buses, and me on my bike, all of us depending on the rest of us to follow the rules, which we mostly do. I stopped to chat with E. and walked my bike for a bit, past the folks lining up on the walkway at Health Services for the Homeless. A man stopped to chat with me about the importance of bike safety, wearing my helmet, paying attention, and all that jazz. Always, I said. And then I got on my bike, headed up Fallsway, and narrowly avoided being hit by a driver who raced through the crosswalk at an intersection on her way to make a right. Yep, stay attentive at all times, and drivers, please take your time; that could have made a really terrible holiday for all of us. I made it home safely, happy to have gotten in some exercise. Before I left my house I’d read an article about how children are getting iPads for Christmas instead of toys, an it’s a terrible thing. From what I saw on my ride today, that’s not all children, and I’m thinking we’ve got bigger problems than that.
I spent the last couple of days at the Delaware shore with S., and although I brought Brompty with us, I mostly just sat myself down on the beach and stayed put, once the rain cleared. Today I was back at home gearing up for the first day of school on Wednesday. I’m sad to see summer end, but I’m happy to be getting back to a routine, even if it does leave less time for bicycling aimlessly about. Continue reading