Tuesday’s ride was a surprisingly muggy one downtown to meet the shuttle for the ride to campus. I let the hill do the work on the way, locked up, and chatted with a colleague from the Classics department on campus. He’s an archaeologist who also hates driving, and we had a lovely time discussing the merits of fixed rail versus bus, bike versus everything else–you can guess where I fell on this debate. One of my favorite things about public and shared transportation is this kind of thing, though–that you get to chat with people you probably wouldn’t talk with otherwise. 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?
Monday’s ride was a similar zippy one down to the corner of Lombard and Greene to pick up the shuttle for my ride to work. I did some niggling and adjusting on my new pannier rack system, successfully solving the heel strike problem from last week. It was a long teaching day before a surprisingly short wait for the shuttle back into the city. I was happy to see a familiar face–V. from student affairs was giving the shuttle a try–and I sat next to her for a surprisingly short drive back to my bike. Sometimes the traffic let’s up. I got off early, took the slow stroll back to my bike. I stopped to snap a picture of this plant growing out of a brick wall. I’d checked out this wall from the shuttle earlier as we rode part, because I think there’s a cemetery up there. I hadn’t noticed it before–the bike’s to short to see over the wall, and why would I ride this way to cross MLK anyway? New routes, new views, and even the fancy med school can’t keep the plants out of the walls.
Monday was a day of appointments all over the city, which actually means a day of riding all over the city, if you are lucky enough to commute by bike. I started early, joining the morning traffic as I snaked my way south and east and south and east for an appointment at the eastern edge of Fleet Street. I skipped the usual route and got to ride through neighborhoods I normally don’t hit, including a bonus morning skip through the Old Town Mall, suddenly slated for redevelopment, thank goodness. I’m a suspicious li’l worry wart, though, so I should probably hold that thank goodness until we see what the city decides to subsidize there. 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.
Friday was the last day at school before spring break, and oh my, did that put me in a good mood. I dressed for spring on the bottom and winter on top, and rode to the station with chilly legs and a sweaty back–oh well, what are you gonna do? It was a quick zip around campus for errands and one last meeting, and then I was zipping back to the station to meet the train for a much-needed break from all this commuting nonsense. I took my left onto the outer circle and ran into another Brompton, this one ridden by A., who teaches in the Information Systems department. Continue reading