I haven’t been riding my bicycle much in the last few weeks. I don’t like to start a ride in the rain and I never ride on snow or ice, and that means weather has kept me bus-bound for awhile. I’ve been on my bike every chance I get, but sadly, the chances have been rare. I miss the ease of riding and the control I have over my time that comes with ice-free roads. My mood is better, my wait times are shorter, and I feel free in a way I just don’t when I have to depend on an undependable transit system. Continue reading
It has been a brutal February, not just cold, which I can deal with, but snowy and icy–pretty much my least favorite riding conditions. Riding on ice is the worst because eventually you have to stop or turn, and doing either of those things means risking a fall. I ride with such trepidation in those conditions, body all seized up, gripping everything too tightly to function, and it just isn’t fun to ride a bike that way. Spring can’t come soon enough, but it’s taking it’s own sweet time, and that’s the thing about weather–you just have to do what it’s going to do, and sometimes that means taking the bus. 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’ve been off the bike since last Wednesday, off in San Juan, Puerto Rico for work. I swear–for work. I left bikes at home and spent my time traveling the city on the bus–just 75 cents per ride!–and on foot, walking around the old city with N., eating too much mofongo and staring at the layers of a different city. There were a lot of views, of huge lizards, feminist theorists (it was NWSA, after all), blue skies, cruise ships, police officers, stray cats, forts that have been used as military installations from the 1500s to the 1950s, happy hours at all hours (this is a tourist destination, after all), and candy colored everything. There were a few bike racks, but I only saw a couple people on bikes. 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.
Sometimes this bike blog feels like a weather blog, but that’s because this winter’s weather has made biking all about just getting through it. After our lovely spring days earlier in the week, Thursday woke up to howling winds and sub-freezing temps, but hey, I’ve got to get to work, and I’m a stubborn thing, so I layered up, unfolded Brompty, and headed down the hill to the train station. Other than a few heavy gusts that made my eyes start gushing wintertears, it wasn’t really that bad. And then I got out on the other side, at Halethorpe. Continue reading
Monday was another snow day, this one covering up a layer of ice, so that meant no biking for me and a whole lot of hoping that all road surfaces would miraculously melt and dry for Tuesday’s commute to campus. Sure, I could grab a ride with a friend, ask a student for a ride home, but I want to ride my bike and use my train pass and be in some control of my own movement–plus I’m really stubborn–so I layered up and left early so it I had to walk or wait for a bus, I’d have to time to do so. The ride down the hill was fine, though I could feel (and hear–quit honking your horns people, there’s nowhere for me to go!) the irritation of drivers as I took a whole lane in morning traffic because the bike lane was filled with plowed remains. Continue reading
And Thursday it was back to work, and the ride took me down the hill in 14 degree temperatures to the train station, and I swear my eyeballs were going to freeze right there inside of my skull. Oh, New Orleans, I miss you and your 70 degree late February days! I folded up the bike and got off two stops later, meeting A. unexpectedly on the platform for a Brompty reunion and ride up the hill to work. We complained about the weather and the left turn traffic light that seems to work randomly. A. is secretly happy to have that mystery to keep her commute alive, she admitted. We shared our desires for a tow rope up the hill in to campus, and then I split off for a busy day at the office.
It snowed again late Monday night into the morning–this bike commuter’s worst nightmare–but fortunately I have back up plans and excellent friends and neighbors, so I tossed a text M.’s way and got Brompty and I a ride to campus. By the time I left in the evening the new snow had melted, along with some of the old stuff, and it was a temperate pedal to the MARC train for the quick ride home. And when I say temperate, I mean it; I didn’t even wear gloves or a hat! Miracles! The side effect of all this snow and melt, though, is salt, salt, salt, everywhere. Parts of Brompty are practically encrusted, and the taste was on my lips, my tongue, my fingertips–everywhere. I rode over piles of the stuff on the way up the hill, a reminder that roads don’t get clear by themselves, and how we clear them brings its own set of issues.
I don’t know if you’ve heard, but we’ve had some snow storms here on the east coast. I love a snow day as much as the next school kid/employee, but oh, it’s ruining biking for me. I don’t bike on ice or snow, because staying upright demands not changing speed, changing direction, or braking, and those are three things I’m really in to doing when I’m on a ride. I’m happy to snuggle up with candy and television for the day, but the aftermath is terrible for anybody not in a car. T Continue reading