I don’t know if you’ve heard, but it’s incredibly hot out. It might be a global pandemic and a revolution, but everybody’s still happy to also talk about how it’s hot out. In Baltimore this past weekend should have been Artscape, the biggest free arts festival in the country, but it was cancelled, of course. Artscape is always on the hottest weekend of the year, and this year was no exception. (PS This week in July is statistically the hottest every year, so it’s not just Artscape that makes it so hot, but clearly it’s mostly Artscape.)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
Tuesday’s ride was a slow one, down the hill to meet O. and R. for a goodbye breakfast as R. heads out for two months of world travel–dang, I’m going to miss her–and then back on the bike for a ride to Locust Point. I was already on Maryland Avenue, so I stayed there, fantasizing about the cycletrack that will one day grace our fair city, and saving that downhill-through-Mount-Vernon momentum to get up the hill by the library. I caught up with another bicycle rider there, and we exchanged our friendly how-you-doin’s, and it was just nice to have company. Continue reading
Friday was busy with appointments and last minute preparation for an art show in Rockville, but N. got me out on the bike with a set of clues that led me down to the Baltimore Museum of Industry, where she got me a membership for my birthday last week. That’s a really, really good present for a girl like me. It was a quick ride down to the pedestrian-packed ring around the harbor–that’s just going to get better or worse, depending on your perspective. I got off the bike to squeeze past the guys laying new concrete around a fire hydrant–that concrete had a message written into it by the time I rode back–and then dodged the grates and cars on Key Highway. I signaled and took my left into the museum’s parking lot and joined two other bikes on the rack. I love it when I’m not the only bike! I was ostensibly there for the Antietam Banjo Association conference, but they turned out to be reservation-only. I didn’t have one, so I spent my time checking out the banjo exhibit instead. Turns out the first mentions of the banjo in the U.S. were in advertisements seeking the capture of enslaved people who had escaped to freedom. The instrument was used mostly by African Americans before being used in blackface minstrelsy shows. Eventually white people played them without the blackface, and they became the sterotypical instrument of choice for poor white Southerners and Appalachians. Totally interesting, and I carried that story of movement, appropriation, and the politics of cultural life with me as I wandered through the rest of the museum, past the linotype machine and the Wall of Firsts (Baltimore is home to some pretty great firsts) and the canning displays and this spice grinder used to make Old Bay. Industrial museums are an odd form of nostalgia. And then it was time to get back up the hill, so I was on my way, joining the traffic and regretting the choice to not let N. put sunscreen on my back. I have to get over how little I like that smell and feel, because it’s all sun from here on out.
Monday’s ride took me over to East Baltimore to meet with the folks at the Creative Alliance to talk about the upcoming LGBT film festival. It was already hot, because that’s what a late summer day fast forwarded to May feels like, but oh, it felt good to be riding through it, especially after a weekend spent entirely in a car. Yeah, I needed to shake that off with a ride. By the time I pulled into the rack at Eastern and S. East I was plenty reminded of the need to bring water at all times when biking in Baltimore. Hills in heat are a different animal from NOLA’s even streets. I remember my cruel introduction to this fact on a long ride up Fulton Avenue on a rented 3-speed a few Julys ago on my first trip to Baltimore. Continue reading
Monday was a stunner, so I was even happier than usual to be on bike for appointments that took me to Federal Hill and Locust Point. The ride started early as I made my way down the hill and up the hill to meet O. and R. for a day in the art studio. We had decisions to make on a project we’re working on, so we made them and then made our way to a neighborhood restaurant for a sushi lunch and story swap. If you can get R. to tell you her stories about her trip to Seward, Alaska, do it–oh, what magic! And then we parted ways and I took the lane on Fort Avenue over to Locust Point and the weird mall that I’m inexplicably in love with for a ahircut and grading marathon until it was too much not to be outside and on bike. I rode over to Fort McHenry to do a lap around and see what the other lovers of spring with nowhere to be were doing. There was a bit of a jam on the far side of the park as folks had gathered to pay very close attention to some ducks. I got off my bike to join them–this was clearly a crowd I could relate to. “This is the closest I’ve ever been to a wild duck!” one woman exclaimed. She was right. These ducks were nonplussed at our presence. We chatted together for a good ten minutes about our new feathered friends: Do they mate for life? Are those two “together”? When will we get ducklings? How is it so cute when the wiggle their little duck butts? And the the duucks were in the water and on their way, and so was I, grateful for strangers and the opportunity for friendly exchange with my fellow species. And again happy to be on a bike and in the world instead of blocked off from it, on a freeway where everyone is a faceless threat instead on an open, friendly, interested fellow traveller.
The week of bike riding got considerably better after Tuesday, and Wednesday’s ride was cold, sure, but the sun was shining and the sky was blue. I dressed aspirationally, again, so shivered my way up to Abell and back down and around to Locust Point for a day at McHenry Row. That place is so weird–a hint of the suburbs plopped down in the middle of things, but from an American point of view, it sure is convenient. I spent my day doing things that didn’t need to be done, and then I headed home. I stopped for a quick turn around Riverside Park. There was a cop playing catch with his service dog, a couple of high schoolers who looked to be spending their spring break high on the weed, and that was about it. I snapped this picture of the public pool, still dry and empty of swimmers. Soon, soon, and yes, public pools for all! We have allowed ourselves so few shared resources–libraries, roads, and parks–and in Baltimore, even these feel under attack. If we’re going to have a state, I think I’d prefer a state that keeps parks and pool and libraries open, instead of one that funnels cash to the rich on the fantasy that they’ll pay for this stuff out of their own sense of goodwill. And then I pedaled home, put on a sweater, and was on to the next one.
Oh, it is good to be back home in Baltimore, especially after a 14 hour drive from St. Louis–that’s a lot of sitting, which leaves me even more sore than pumping my not-quite-enough-gears Brompty up and down the hills of suburbia. After a lazy morning of recovery and answering work emails I’d left for after the holiday I hopped on the Surly to enjoy this balmy 50 degree day. Continue reading
Today’s ride took me whizzing down the hill, around the circle, and over to Fort McHenry, a brief stop for a sandwich and some froyo, courtesy of a gift card from A. It was surprisingly warm and sunny today, which meant only two layers, no gloves or hat, and an unzipped jacket–it’s practically summer again! But it’s not, so the streets were almost empty, and I only had to dodge the trucks putting up Christmas lights rather than gaggles of clueless pedestrians as I did my ride around the harbor. Continue reading
Oh, what a beautiful day for a bike ride on Thursday! The sun was out between the frothy layers of clouds, I had finished my work for the day, and I had nowhere to be but on the bike. I headed down the hill toward the Inner Harbor bike/ped path, took my right turn to pedal around, and then headed up to Fort Avenue and the slight downhill to Locust Point for a ride around Fort McHenry. I’ve done this ride so many times at this point, but I still remember the first time–it seemed so far away. Continue reading