I left my bike at home this past weekend when I went to New York City to watch E. run the marathon. Last time she ran a big race, I took Brompty and leapfrogged her for the entire course of the Brooklyn Half Marathon, and I got to ride the race route all by myself, without cars, and it was magical. I mean, how often do you get to ride on the streets–much less the streets of a major city–and never even have to think about cars? The NYC Marathon is a different beast, though, and I was expecting huge crowds–a million people line the route–and I didn’t want to get boxed out because I was carrying a bicycle with me. If you know me, you know how hard it is for me to travel without a bicycle, but alas, the priority was really to watch my sister complete this truly epic event, and I got to do that. It was all about the subway on Sunday, and the tears, because everyone who runs the marathon has a story of deciding to do this thing that really shouldn’t be done, and they’ve got their training plans and their injuries, and their best laid plans and their cheer sections, and it all happens, 50,000 times over. It was so cool to watch, and when she ran up to me around mile 21.5, hands in fists raised in the air, almost weeping as she said, “I’m doing it! I’m doing it!” well, I was pretty much cooked. Best ever. And then it was time for a few more subway rides back to the train back home, up first thing in the morning to head to work. I got to take my bike, and as soon as I was on there and pedaling, I remembered that how good it is to be home. That was four days off the bike, way, way too long. Next year I’m definitely taking my bike to the marathon, crowds be damned. I met my meetings, taught my classes, and then it was time to head home. It’s dark now, and that’s a whole different experience of riding, one that makes me feel like I’m alone on the roads. When cooler, darker weather sets in, lots of cyclists pack in their bikes for the seasons, and everything just feels quieter and lonelier, in a way I really like. Just me, the bike, and this dark sky with the pale blot of clouds. Thanks for the subway rides, NYC, but I’ll take my bike in Baltimore any day.
I took the bike out for a couple of rides today, first to Waverly to meet R. and O. for some scheming and then home again, a quick stop for lunch and a pep talk with N. I didn’t have plans to go out again, necessarily, but I wanted to do a little night riding to test out my brand new light-up reflective LED safety vest. I waited for the sun to go down–just a little after 5pm, a pox on you, wintertime!–and got myself all suited up for cold temps and strapped on the vest. And then I turned the lights on. I was all lit up like a Christmas tree, and I felt like the Safety Monitor as I pedaled west and north. Cars gave me a wide berth, dogwalkers looked on admiringly, and the folks waiting at the bus stops waved and clapped. Continue reading
I spent my morning at home finishing one book and starting another, and then I got to ride my bike over to C.’s house–she just got a bicycle and wanted a little practice with a fellow bicyclist, and I was more than happy to oblige. We rode Uptown for ice cream–a terrific sacrifice on my part–and then back to her place. Then I pedaled slowly around town running errands before meeting up with R. for gelato. My life is so hard. I did some grading and some thinking and some cooking and then it was time to take the bike out to Mid-City for poker at A. and G.’s. Good lord, I love a nighttime bike ride, and Orleans Avenue, you do treat me right. I snapped this picture of my quickly diminishing stack of chips and the thankfully almost-empty bottle of grape wine with citrus spirits. I lost, but it was a most lovely evening, and Orleans awaits. Night riding in the summertime, lucky me.
It was already dark when my night school class ended, so I strapped on my safety triangle, turned on my flashing front light, and donned my helmet before pushing off toward home. I was stopped at the light at Jefferson when a cyclist breezed by–no lights, no reflectors, no nothing. I think what cyclists don’t get is that at night, without lights and reflectors, we are invisible. Seriously–absolutely invisible. That’s scary for drivers, and more importantly, for us, because we’re going to lose this battle. A car pulled up next to me at that light, and the driver told me that he could see me clearly with my little slow moving vehicle sign, and that’s good to know. I never see me from the vantage point of a driver coming up from behind, and maybe that’s why so many cyclists don’t bother with any kind of night riding gear–because we don’t imagine that we aren’t being seen. After all, we can see you, so why can’t you see us? Well, they can’t see us. Clip a light on the back somewhere, please.
I needed a day of rest today, so today consisted of lazy bike rides solely for transportation. I headed down tot he coffee shop to finish up some grading and then back Uptown to do some reading. I got back on Rhoda to head over to N.’s for pizza and The Game. It was a cool night and lots of folks were out on their porches, talking to each other, talking on their phones, or just chilling. Continue reading