Old and New Buildings at Central and Eastern

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Today’s ride took me through the mist down to Harbor East for a dip in the pool before heading back up the hill to the library for an oral history presentation about the Civil Rights movement (yes, it has earned all caps) in Baltimore. It wasn’t raining, exactly, but the air was all water, and so were my glasses after just a couple blocks of riding. Through it, I saw this scene at Central and Eastern, old brick building dwarfed by the Legg Mason monument to its own capitalist success and the condos behind it, where Legg Masoners can afford to live, layers of urban development stretching to the horizon, and I wanted heritage programs that taught me not what used to be here, but why it isn’t here anymore and instead we’ve got this. A quick swim and lunch and back up the hill for stories. I love stories, and these were new ones, to me, including one by a woman who gave birth to a perfect baby boy she wanted as much as you wanted your child, but hers was taken away because a white woman giving birth to a black baby was a crime. It took two years to get that baby back. And she’s still here, telling her story on stage-it just wasn’t that long ago. So many people have put their lives right at the knife edge for me to have had a day like this one. Thank you, and fight on.

Club Orpheus Sign at Pratt & Exeter

Club Orpheus Sign at Pratt & ExeterSaturday’s ride took me down the hill against the Baltimore wind machines for a dip in the pool. I do this ride so often that it just feels like home, like that old ride from the Garden District up to Tulane when I lived in New Orleans–same streets, same houses, same potholes and traffic patterns every day, but every day it is a little bit different in the ride. This day’s ride was frustrated by surprising traffic–where’s everybody going on a Saturday, man? Get off my downtown streets! Continue reading

Blooming Daffodil in the Traffic Circle at Harbor East

Blooming Daffodil at Harbor EastThis past weekend was just ridiculously warm, totally out of character for a January in Baltimore. I mean, S. rode her bike at night in nothing but a sweatshirt, and she’s a baby when it’s cold out. Today was much, much colder, though, so I layered up, put my hat and gloves on, and prepared for the weepy eyes from the freezing breeze in my face as I roll down the hill. Continue reading

Two Row Houses at Chase & Barclay

Two Row Houses Between Parks on Chase & BarclayI had to work today, but not until 1:00pm, so after getting some writing done in the morning. I hopped on the bike in sunny, almost 50-degree weather and zipped down the hill for a quick swim. I make this same ride so often–it’s like the two miles on St. Charles I used to pedal every day. I did my few laps and then raced back up the hill–1:00 comes fast when it’s a lovely day like today, and I was running late. As I made my way up Fallsway I made myself slow down enough to look around and appreciate the scene. I stopped to snap this picture¬† at Chase, looking east to Barclay. There used to be a big pile of dirt in the foreground, but it got slowly moved across the street, replacing the row houses that were being torn down to make room for a new park. A couple weeks ago they started to get the red house ready for demolition, and the white one wore a couple strands of Christmas lights. The red one is getting closer to getting knocked down today, but it’s still there. D. walks her dog in this neighborhood, and she told me the woman in the white house refuses to sell. This might look like an abandoned block, but it’s not–she lives there, and she wants to stay. So she’s staying, and now she’ll live next to a park. I hope she enjoys it, and I hope D. keeps walking her dog over there and getting to know that neighbor across the way. I pledge to keep riding my bike by it, day after day after day, eyes open.

Beers on a Bar in Fells Point at Broadway & Aliceanna

Drinks on a Bar in Fells Point at Aliceanna & BroadwaySunday’s ride took me over to Waverly to meet friends for a drive to Leakin Park before taking the bike back down the hill for a quick swim. Wow, swimming is hard and wonderful. And then it was game time. I had a coupon for a chain restaurant in Fells Point, so I biked over there and grabbed the last spot at the bar, ordering up something they called “pizza” and a beer. And then a second beer, because the Miller Lite Girls were there in tight bedazzled v-neck t-shirts handing out free beers. Continue reading

Waiting in Traffic on President & Fleet

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It’s Christmas Eve and S. was taking me to Damascus-the Maryland one-so I headed out on my bike for an early ride. I bundled up because it is finally getting cold here and zipped down the hill. Folks were lined up under the JFX to collect holiday packages and again at the park on Baltimore, lined up for food. I continued my ride, locked up the bike, went for a swim, and then headed back up toward home. I snapped this picture while waiting at a red light. Cars, taxis, buses, and me on my bike, all of us depending on the rest of us to follow the rules, which we mostly do. I stopped to chat with E. and walked my bike for a bit, past the folks lining up on the walkway at Health Services for the Homeless. A man stopped to chat with me about the importance of bike safety, wearing my helmet, paying attention, and all that jazz. Always, I said. And then I got on my bike, headed up Fallsway, and narrowly avoided being hit by a driver who raced through the crosswalk at an intersection on her way to make a right. Yep, stay attentive at all times, and drivers, please take your time; that could have made a really terrible holiday for all of us. I made it home safely, happy to have gotten in some exercise. Before I left my house I’d read an article about how children are getting iPads for Christmas instead of toys, an it’s a terrible thing. From what I saw on my ride today, that’s not all children, and I’m thinking we’ve got bigger problems than that.

Boats, Flags, and Fog From the Pier at Harbor East

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I woke up to gray skies and fog that hung around all day long; Baltimore’s trapped in a cloud. One thing that means, though, is that the temperature’s mild, and in that respect it’s good for biking. I hopped on the bike after a leisurely morning and headed down the hill to run afew errands and then hit the gym for a do-over on yesterday’s swimming snafu. E. advised me to take the long way, so that’s what I did, a left on Biddle for a ride past block after block of vacants until my right on Central. Man, that avenue is nuts~it was like off-roading with all the bumps and gravel pits and narrow lanes. The minivan behind me was honking as I did my best to stay on my wet pedals and I was like, what do you want me to do? But then there was a bike lane and people and I was at the end of the street. I took a right and walked the bike behind yet another construction project and I was on the pier. I snapped this picture of boats and flags against the white background of a fog that still hasn’t lifted. I walked the bike to the bike rack at the gym, past the Johns Hopkins business school that of course occupies some of the most expensive real estate in town and Legg Mason’s “global assets.” Some people live their lives in those buildings while others are waiting at the rescue mission on Central just a mile a way, but surely it’s all about who’s working hardest, right? I swam without sputtering and celebrated with a soggy ride home. The cloud gets closer to the ground after the sun sets, it seems. Back up the hill to home, very lucky indeed.

A Condo on a Pier at the Harbor at Leakin St.

Condo on Legs in the Harbor at Leakin St.I faced a bit of a quandary this morning. I had three places to be today, and in time constraints that meant biking was out of the question, but just barely. And it was a sunny day–first one in awhile–and that meant biking had to happen. Solution? Pop the Brompton in the back seat, drive to the first destination, bike to the second and back, and then return Brompty to the car before driving to campus. This is why they pay me the big bucks. I checked the map to figure out how to get to Canton by car and headed out for another swim lesson. 45 minutes later I was unfolding the bike and mazing my way around Canton and Highlandtown, bright sun and blue skies. Continue reading

Fancy Christmas Trees at the Fancy Hotel in Harbor East

Christmas Decorations at the Four Season Hotel at Harbor EastToday’s ride took me down the hill to meet A. for a trip to the gym and then to the coffee shop for snacks and conversation. It was another gray and foggy day, so the ride down the hill was chilly, wet, and kinda slippery, but I’d still much rather be on my bicycle. The streets were positively empty, not because of the weather but because the Ravens game was on, and nobody knew yet how terribly that was going to end up. I locked up to a nearly-empty bike rack–the first time that’s happened at Harbor East in awhile–and then it was a quick turn at the gym before heading back to the fancy coffee shop inside the even fancier hotel. Continue reading

Her Fantastic Cats Performing at Bearings Bicycle Project at Greenmount & 26th

Her Fantastic Cats Performing at Bearings Bicycle Project on Greenmount & 26thI woke up early on Saturday and decided right away to do absolutely no work-related tasks that day. No emails, no grading, no reading or writing, nothing. I needed a good day off, and I took it. I lazed about for a bit and then layered up for a ride down the hill and around the harbor to meet J. and her parents at the Baltimore Museum of Industry. Oh, it felt so good to be flying down the hill on empty streets, the morning fog still hanging on everything taller than a row house. It was quiet and still, and I wondered to myself, how do people who don’t ride bikes or walk around know where they are, like really know? Outside of a car you have no choice but to pay attention. But anyway. Continue reading