When you ride a bicycle or walk you have to pay really close attention to the surfaces you are traveling on, especially in places like Baltimore where the infrastructure is aging and, in many places, in serious disrepair. When you’re driving you have to do this too–you don’t want to break an axle or whatever dropping into a giant pothole–but cars can handle a lot more than bike wheels and feet. I know my regular surfaces really well–the sinking manhole cover just across 25th Street, the ever-present piles of horse shit on that one curve of Fallsway cycletrack, the rough asphalt where they buzzed out some paint lines on Biddle just west of Broadway.
I got off work early on Monday because sometimes my life is incredibly blessed. After grabbing lunch in downtown Baltimore I got back on my bike and headed out for a ride before heading home. I headed west on Lombard and zig zagged up to Mulberry to see if that new bike path on Franklin runs up the other side of the Highway to Nowhere too–and it does. Continue reading
The heat’s turned back on in Baltimore, which made me all the happier to end my bike ride in Canton for another session in the cryotherapy chamber. The ride down was easy breezy now that I knew where I was going and didn’t have to check my phone for directions. I headed down Guilford, veered left for the protected cycletrack along Fallsway, walked my bike as instructed to the sidewalk just past Fayette before pedaling south and east and south and east until making a couple of wrong turns and ending up at my new favorite summer spot for freezing myself. I was all flush with that feeling of gratitude that I can ride a bicycle–it really is the very best.
Tuesday’s ride took me up the hill and east to Morgan State for a conversation on the Marc Steiner Show about The Wire–about how even though it’s a great television show, it can’t tell the full range of stories about what make this city tick, and the many ways folks work to make it tick better (or worse). It was a good conversation with smart people, and a reminder to me that if you don’t have someone there to talk about women, women fall right out of the discussion. Patriarchy’s a real thing, which means I’ll never be out of a job, amirite? Continue reading
The weather was a trip yesterday, all gray skies and wind in between giant sunbeams and blue skies. The place cannot make up its mind, I swear. I stayed home early to catch up on work and work and more work before heading down the hill to an appointment. The skies looked ok, but the wind was whipping around more than I prefer when I’m making the weather choices. Afterward, I scarfed down a quick lunch and then grabbed the bike to head west and see how people are organizing spaces over there since the murder of Freddie Gray. 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’s ride was a quick one, just over and up the hill for a follow up visit with the doctor. She was happy to see the tonsils had gone down, but sad to hear the relentless fatigue was still making me feel like a two mile bike ride required close-to-heroic effort. We could do the test for mono, she said, but no matter what it says, all we can do is treat the symptoms. Not one for tests for testing’s sake, I declined and headed out with orders to keep taking it easy, to finish off that course of antibiotics, and to fill one more prescription. 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
Everything predicted thunderstorms Sunday, but Brompty and I had things to do, and I mistakenly believed my jacket was waterproof, so we headed out between downpours for a ride to Broadmoor to see M. and D.’s new digs, including–so awesome–the baby’s room. It was an easy ride, retracing old steps on new bike lanes. I remember when the very first bike lane was installed in the city, and now the are everywhere. And there’s a new streetcar line, though that one doesn’t make much sense until you remember the Super Bowl was here. Infrastructure’s improved for industry, not residents (and this certainly isn’t just a NOLA thing), and here the industry is tourism. And I’m a tourist now, enough to get lost crossing under the I10 and just avoiding a dead end to the freeway on ramp. I took the bike lane on MLK and smaked left on Galvez, happy to have friends who moved to a neighborhood I never got to explore much. I overshot my right, dead-ended and turned around, and finally got my muddy no-fenders self to their door for breakfast and catch-up. Afterward, and after another downpour, it was back on the bike to Mid City to see R. and her new digs.all the bike lanes and streetcars in the world can’t help with this coty’s lack of drainage, so it was all avoiding puddles and small lakes there and then after back to the Treme. I meant to head straight back to S.’s house, but then I saw the dogs, so many dogs lined up for Barkus, rolling late due to weather. I remember when this was an upstart, and it still is, I guess, even if Bud Light signs welcomed me to it. And you can’t just join the parade; I watched a volunteer close the gates of Louis Armstrong park on a rather stunned gentleman and his pocket pooch. You need a “marching pass” to join a walking parade? Wow. And then the skies opened up again–my luck had run out. 20 minutes standing in the rain and it was time to thow on the towel. I pedaled “home,” a soggy mess, happy to have seen some old friends–people, pets, and problems.
Thursday’s ride was a repeat of Wednesday’s, but with an earlier start for a stop at the mechanic’s to move my car from the lot to the street to wait for its final ride over the Rainbow Bridge. It was freezing, and the guy said I must be “Ravens Strong” to ride my bike this morning. Well, sir, you just might be right. Now, if you were actually me, standing there wearing twelve layers of everything and knowing the sweat was going to start about 5 minutes into this little project, you might not be impressed, but hey, I’ll take it. The rest of the commute went smoothly, and the bike got me some good conversation with some MARC workers on the way home. The pedal up the hill from the station was a slow one, especially as I navigated the thick sand-like piles of salt at Charles and North. (Go on, go bike through sand. It’s a slow and wobbly go!) A water main burst the previous night, and that is not the first one, not by a long shot. We travel these streets without thinking about what’s underneath, but what’s underneath is clearly in a whole lot of trouble. But hey, they’d fixed it by mid-afternoon and covered it over with a big black rectangle of asphalt, so I guess we are good to go. I kept riding and stopped to take this picture at Charles and 25th, another patch job over another broken something. This project’s been going on for awhile, and I’m not sure what’s going on, but it is another of the many signs around here that what we don’t see beneath our feet is in serious trouble. The complaints are always about traffic, not about our crumbling infrastrucre, for which traffic is barely even canary yellow, much less the canary coal mine. And then I was home, stowing Brompty in the basement, kicking off my shoes and filling my water bottle from the tap and settling in to forget it all with some low quality television. Nothing to see here, folks, nothing to see here.