I’ve been riding my bike a lot since I last blogged about it. I ride it almost every day, especially now that school is in session. It’s just how I get from here to there, and since I go here and there, I’m pretty much always on my bicycle. It has been so hot these last couple of months that biking has been a lot less pleasurable than usual. I’m still always happy once I’m on the bike, but if I’m being honest, I don’t always want to get on there.
I spent most of last week riding my bicycle around–errands, work, getting miles in. I could tell I was riding a bit too much–I was starting to get kinda agitated and insomniacal, signs of overtraining, so I decided I’d pedal it back a bit, following my pops’ rule: whatever you do should make you want to get back on your bike again. And then it was Thursday, and I had a good ride out and back to work planned–the bonus of commuting by bike is that your long rides work themselves in without even trying. Continue reading
Last Wednesday’s ride was another longer one, up to campus for a mid-morning meeting, and then back to Patapsco Valley State Park, this time to find a trail inside the park, unlike Monday’s ride. A teensy bit of advanced planning can do wonders, but that’s not a lesson I seem able to learn. I also failed to learn the lesson that the GPS is not always right, so my ride out of campus led me, for a disturbingly long time, out on the shoulder of I195. It’s UMBC Boulevard for a hot minute, and then there’s allegedly a way to stay on that street and then take a ramp up to Selford. I’ve seen our cross country team coming back from this direction, so I’m sure that’s possible, but I couldn’t figure it out. Continue reading
Classes started last week, just as they have for the past ten years I’ve been teaching. There’s always something different–a new syllabus or classroom, a new office or a new class blog, and always there are new students, familiar but different, and each group has to find its own chemistry. Sometimes, though, a new semester means something earth-shatteringly new that makes everything different. Like this past week, when I got an email the day before the new semester began announcing a free shuttle service between downtown Baltimore and UMBC. Wow. This is a game-changer for so many of us–or at least enough of us to justify the expense and to make them keep the shuttle line. My excitement was not without some reservation. Continue reading
Thursday was UMBC’s graduation, and rather than wait in traffic to find a parking spot with increasingly grumpyproud parents, I stuffed my tam in my bag and rode my bike the 20 minutes down the hill, locked up precariously to a fence right outside the side door to the arena because that’s what the security guard told me to do, and headed inside to eat all the buffet lunches with my fellow faculty members. A. brought my sorcerer robes with her on the Circulator, and by the time she figured out how to get into the place, she was one angry pregnant lady with her eye on the food tables–she’s eating for two, so don’t fuck with her. Continue reading
I love not having a car, but Friday was one of those days when having a car would have been kinda great. I had an appointment up in Roland Park and then had to be out in the suburbs at UMBC and then back in Roland Park to judge an evening debate tournament. And I was out of coffee. In a car, I just would have made the rounds, but on a bike it felt like climbing hill after hill after hill, always needing to leave a little early to get to the next thing on time. And I didn’t have a chance to get coffee until 1:30 in the afternoon, on my way home to swap Brompty back out for the Surly. But you know what? As I climbed up Roland Avenue for the second time, I realized how lucky it is to want to ride my bike, to take such joy in the feel of it all, and to live in a body that lets me do it. Continue reading
I smoked my last cigarette 8 years ago on Tuesday. It was a spur of the moment decision, but one I stuck with, choosing not to smoke, minute by minute, until I didn’t want to smoke anymore. I remembered it was my anniversary as I was dragging my tired self down the hill for a very long day of work, a bad night’s sleep and a headache making the commute seem much more like a chore than a cheerful opportunity to have Deep Thoughts about where the road salt’s going and when, if that RV ever goes anywhere other than that driveway, or whatever else I was going to see on my bike today. And then I smiled to myself, because I don’t have to smoke, think about quitting, or quit smoking anymore. Continue reading
Monday was another snow day, this one covering up a layer of ice, so that meant no biking for me and a whole lot of hoping that all road surfaces would miraculously melt and dry for Tuesday’s commute to campus. Sure, I could grab a ride with a friend, ask a student for a ride home, but I want to ride my bike and use my train pass and be in some control of my own movement–plus I’m really stubborn–so I layered up and left early so it I had to walk or wait for a bus, I’d have to time to do so. The ride down the hill was fine, though I could feel (and hear–quit honking your horns people, there’s nowhere for me to go!) the irritation of drivers as I took a whole lane in morning traffic because the bike lane was filled with plowed remains. Continue reading
And Thursday it was back to work, and the ride took me down the hill in 14 degree temperatures to the train station, and I swear my eyeballs were going to freeze right there inside of my skull. Oh, New Orleans, I miss you and your 70 degree late February days! I folded up the bike and got off two stops later, meeting A. unexpectedly on the platform for a Brompty reunion and ride up the hill to work. We complained about the weather and the left turn traffic light that seems to work randomly. A. is secretly happy to have that mystery to keep her commute alive, she admitted. We shared our desires for a tow rope up the hill in to campus, and then I split off for a busy day at the office.
My car’s on the fritz, and it looks serious, so it’s time to get back to living a car-free life, a prospect considerably eased by the fact that N. has a car. Even so, I’m going to be on my own for commutes to school, and Thursday was the first of many. Brompty and I rode down to Penn Station, got our MARC tickets, and hopped on for a quick two-stop ride to Halethorpe for the couple-mile ride to campus. First stop was a place called South Campus where I’ve never been, and a quick mapquest put me on something called Rolling Road, not a good sign for the limited gears of Brompty. It wasn’t the easiest push, even in the granniest of gears, but I made it without walking the bike and early for my meeting, energized by the stretch and the sense of badassery you get when you take a route that on first glance isn’t the best for bikes–yeah, I’m easily pleased. And then it was another couple miles back to the main campus, made easy by the downhill I’d already earned. The curvy roads made for limited visibility, so I took the sidewalk for a bit, ordinarily a move against my religion. And sometimes you get this, a sidewalk basically blocked for anyone in a wheelchair or who needs the room. That built environment determines who can be there, and on this ride, it seemed. Pretty clear the place is for cars only. Unless, or course, you just take the lane, which I gladly did, happy to be out in the chilly sunshine under blue skies, grateful for bikes and trains, imperfect as they are, and new car-free adventures, whether the transmission gets fixed or not.