View Up the Gwynns Falls Trail From Falls Road

Gwynns Falls TrailIt 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

View Across the Patapsco From Middle Branch Park

View Across the Patapsco From Middle Branch ParkFriday’s ride started late, following a long morning of grading and grading and more grading. It’s simultaneously the best and worst part of the job. It’s a chance to settle in with individual students and see what they’re really thinking about, and a reminder that I’ve just got too many students to do that in the way I’d like. But I muscled through a big stack over fancy coffee and pizza, and I was ready to stretch my legs after. I headed down the hill and around the Inner Harbor, a quick stop at the tourist visitor’s center for some cash (I knew I was going to end up at the casino on payday), and checked out the empty spot where the Constellation used to be. A giant ship is suddenly absent, just its high heels left poking out of the harbor. Continue reading

Baby Turtle on the Gwynns Falls Trail Behind BARCS

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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.

Tangles of Freeways Seen From the Middle Branch Trail of the Gwynns Falls Trail

Tangles of Freeways Seen From the Middle Branch Trail of the Gwynns Falls TrailIt was sunny, dry, and over freezing, and I had a whole lot of errands to run, so I got to pull out the Surly and go for some rides today. It took less than a block on the bike to feel at home; I love Brompty, and she’s made life without a car so much easier, but oh, Surly, that’s my home bike. The first leg took me just a bit up the hill to Waverly to meet with O. and R. to talk about art and history and girls and cats. And then it was a zippy ride down the hill to meet with D. to drink coffee and talk about material culture and museums and representation and race. And then it was a slow pedal back up the hill for lunch with J. and to talk about the War of 1812 and the difference between “slave” and “servant” and what happens when you use them interchangeably. Yeah, I’ve got a pretty good life with pretty good people in it, and then it just got better. Continue reading

Bare Trees on the Jones Falls Trail in Druid Hill Park

Bare Trees on the Gwynns Falls Trail in Druid Hill ParkSometimes I’m in the mood for an exploratory ride, one where I get lost, or found in one of those neighborhoods I don’t go to unless I’m getting lost on a bicycle–the rides where I end up in Middle East, usually. I never seem to make it west…something to think about in the new year. But some days I  just want to ride without negotiating cars or newness, the simple pleasures of well-trod paths that are off limits to cars. Today was that latter day, so I took the bike up and around to Druid Hill Park for a lap or two and to check out the Jones Falls Trail behind the zoo.
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View of the Gwynns Falls Along the Leakin Park Branch of the Gwynns Falls Trail

View of the Gwynns Falls Along the Leakin Park Branch of the Gwynns Falls TrailOh, I needed that bike ride on Saturday. I headed out for a lap around the reservoir at Druid Hill Park to see the fall colors, made a stop for food and some community acupuncture in Hampden–I play to type–and then I headed west in a vain attempt to accidentally run into Leakin Park, at the request of N. I rode out Gwynns Falls Parkway for a bit until the unruly traffic pushed me onto the sidewalk and then to the right to get away from screaming drivers (no, I do NOT belong on the sidewalk, actually). I pedaled through a park that I thought might be some far edge of Leakin Park (nope–it was Leon Day Park, I think), disturbing a field full of blackbirds that all flew to the trees in unison where I could not longer see them. They are the best communicators, birds are. Continue reading

Casino Under Construction From the First Bridge on the Gwynns Falls Trail Behind Ravens Stadium

Casino Under Construction From the First Bridge on the Gwynns Falls Trail Behind Ravens StadiumLast week’s heavy workload and heavier rains conspired to keep me off the bike for far too many days, so I was happy to have an open afternoon and cloudy but dry skies today for a longer ride. I headed up the hill for lunch and some football before heading down the hill to see what the football fans were doing at the stadium–hint: leaving early–and then I dodged traffic cones and wide-turners on my way to the Gwynns Falls Trail. It finally really feels like fall, but the greens are still mostly green and the overgrowth is still overgrown. Continue reading