I had a surprise day out of the office on Wednesday, and oh, what a treat! It was a beautiful day–sunny, cooling breeze, like spring–once these clouds burned off. I spent my free day riding my bike around, first to a new gym for a free trial. If you know me in real life you know that I already belong to all the gyms, but hey, why not try out one with towel service that’s along a bike lane?
We’re reading this book for one of my classes right now, Queer Phenomenology by Sara Ahmed, and in it she writes about the lines we follow, the ways certain bodies tend toward other bodies and objects, and the worlds we make together. It’s a dense book, and we’re all reading the whole thing, because it’s college, and that’s what we do. Once I leave the classroom and the close reading, though, what the book has mostly made me think about is why some of us take up the bicycle as an extension of the body, as the tool that enables new lines to be followed, new worlds to be made. What is it that makes me feel like I can ride a bike in traffic with cars, in any neighborhood in Baltimore, at virtually any time of night, and others just say nah? What imaginations are opened and closed when we ride bikes, walk, take buses, drive cars? Same thoughts I’ve been thinking for a long time, but the book offers a different language, and I like languages.
I spent most of last week riding my bicycle around–errands, work, getting miles in. I could tell I was riding a bit too much–I was starting to get kinda agitated and insomniacal, signs of overtraining, so I decided I’d pedal it back a bit, following my pops’ rule: whatever you do should make you want to get back on your bike again. And then it was Thursday, and I had a good ride out and back to work planned–the bonus of commuting by bike is that your long rides work themselves in without even trying. Continue reading
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
Friday was one of those perfect bike riding days, first up to Roland Park for a therapy appointment and then back down the hill to treat myself to a grilled cheese sandwich and fries before riding up to Federal Hill to meet O. and her mom at her art studio where they were working on a project that is taking a precision and patience that I could never show. I stopped early on Light Street to lock up at a real rack and take a leisurely stroll up the hill. Federal Hill is all bars and restaurants and specialty dog stores and frozen yogurt and vape shoppes, what what is left after gentrification–or urban change, as I’m starting to call it in my head so I don’t jump to conclusions just based on a word–pushes on through. Continue reading
Thursday’s bike ride took me down the hill and up the other side to visit A. and her sweet baby girl for the afternoon. It was such a nice ride on a cool, windless day–and that second part makes a big difference. I was mostly just happy to stretch my legs on a ride that wasn’t taking me to work. And then we had a ridiculously nice day, the kind you can only have when one of your companions reliably giggles and coos every time you fake-sneeze or stick your tongue out at her. For all the ugly in the world, it was good to remember that there’s this other kind of divine goodness, the still-fresh baby; she’s also part of this world. Continue reading
Thursday’s ride took me down the hill and around the Inner Harbor and up and over through Federal Hill for a day with A. and her sweet baby girl. The wind was light, which meant an almost balmy day, and it put me in such a good mood. I followed the newly-striped bike lane down Guilford down to South Street. It’s all scraggly, running right alongside parked cars, jogging right and left as it passes through one intersection after another. It’s striped all the way to the Inner harbor, big NO PARKING signs lining the street across Lombard. On this day, the bike lane was filled with limousines transferring rich people to the Renaissance hotel, and I was like, seriously? Continue reading
I’m still swamped at work in advance of a conference this weekend, so alas, Sunday’s bike ride had to end in getting some work done. Fortunately, A. needed a delivery of some packages from campus, and she lives out in Federal Hill, so I used that errand as an excuse to stretch my legs a little. It was unseasonably warm–the other cyclist waiting at the light at 32nd and Greenmount agreed that our jackets meant we were both overdressed–and I happily let the breeze touch my bare legs as I sped over and down the hill. Continue reading
The last week of September was all commuter rides punctuated by a Monday relief–a building collapsed in downtown Baltimore, and traffic was at a standstill. N., one of my shuttle buddies, texted me about it from an early shuttle, and I was relieved to learn no one had been hurt, and I could just hop on my bike and ride home instead of waiting for my turn in the wall of cars trying to get to MLK to take a left. Thursday I had the day off from work, though, and I spent in on my bike–all day long, 30+ miles worth of riding for fun and travel. 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