The sun came out on Tuesday, and it had a profound effect on my mood after a gray and rainy Monday. So much feels gray and rainy that when the skies are like that too, I get a bit overwhelmed with it. But like all feelings, the sadness of Monday melted away to the relative good cheer of Tuesday, made even better by “seeing” some of my students in our online class meetings that morning.
And then I was utterly exhausted. It is going to take me a minute to get in shape for this.
It’s Monday, but wow, it feels like we’re off the calendar altogether. This is my spring break, and I’d planned to spend it in upstate New York, visiting Harriet Tubman’s old house, stopping by Seneca Falls, and touring John Brown’s Farm, maybe a quick zip down the old Olympic bobsled course in Lake Placid, weather depending. And I was looking forward to space to read and write, all by myself. Less than a week ago I was crowdsourcing travel stops. Wow, that seems quaint now.
Last week was a sweaty one, the first of the summer here in Baltimore. It was just so hot, and I found myself a little nervous that I wouldn’t be able to ride my bike in it. I talked myself through it: you’ve ridden through 8 summers in Baltimore and New Orleans, every single one of them way too hot to ride through. You’ll sweat, but that’s it, so just sweat through it. Go as slow as you need to, it’s not a race, you’ll acclimate. Ultimately, though, since I don’t have a car and the bus is so unreliable, bicycling is my best choice for getting around, and I’ve got places to go.
It was a beautiful sunny summer weekend, the ladyfriend was on a much-needed out of town adventure with herself, and I had absolutely no plans. That’s some perfection right there, and I spent the Sunday of it riding my bike around. I left my house at high noon, all lotioned up with sunscreen and nowhere in particular to go. I had it my mind to maybe hit SoWeBo Fest, so I rode south and west and west to avoid my regular work commute route but to be heading in generally that direction. And then I was pedaling through west Baltimore on an old commuting route I used to take when I first moved to Baltimore. I decided to see if that bridge on Old Frederick Road had been replaced, and once I got there and saw that yes, it had been, I was on the Gwynns Falls Trail, so why not take it to the end?
Tuesday’s ride took me down the hill to meet R. for lunch and tips on grieving–it looks like rollercoasting is ahead, and time is my friend. R. left, I joined N. and B. for a bit, and then I was itching to go on a ride without a destination. Blue skies emerged, it was 60 degrees out, and I needed to let my legs spin. Continue reading →
After days and days of oppressive heat we had a cool one Wednesday, light humidity, and it was perfect for my bike commute to campus for a quick meeting. The ride to and from easily took three times as long as the meeting itself, which is a good ration of biking to working, if you as me. I took it easy, preparing for the taking it easy part of next week’s bike tour, and I did a great job pedaling slow, looking around, taking it all in. There’s this part of the Gwynns Falls Trail that goes through a tunnel and then up a decent, if short, incline. I’m terrible at this part of the trail. Continue reading →
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 →
Thursday’s ride was a lazy one, up to Druid Hill Park for a few laps around the reservoir. Sometimes I just need a break from the constant car battle to just pedal and pedal, around and around, without all that thinking about how not to get hit by cars. I did a few laps and then headed up the trail toward the zoo and the rest of the trail. This park sits right between Hampden and Mondawmin, and those two neighborhoods are so, so different. Hampden is predominantly white, and has been since its mill days when the hiring rules were native-born whites only. Mondawmin, on the other hand, is predominantly African American, home to Douglass High School, which turned out graduates like Thurgood Marshall back when it was the segregated high school for Black students on the west side. Now it’s got its share of struggles, thanks in part to the way when white folks are asked to share, they just take all the balls and go home. Continue reading →
I got up early on Wednesday to ride my bike to campus so I could get there early enough for a thing that, if I’d read my email, I’d have known wasn’t actually happening. Oh well. It was a nice ride in the still-cool morning air–what counts as “cool” is different in the heat of summer, I’ll admit. I zipped down the same streets I take for my regular commute until I took a left on Washington and rode through Pigtown to Carroll Park to hop on the Gwynns Falls Trail. There’s a golf course here, one of several public ones in the city, reminding me that yes, there are people who play golf. 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 →