Private Street at John & Lanvale

Private Street at John & LanvaleThe 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

Snow Plow Attachment Behind the Maryland Science Center at the Inner Harbor

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Spring has sprung, and onto Monday it found me taking the Surly down to the bike shoppe for a new front rack and kickstand to herald in what I hope to be my first season of bike camping. It took a good 45 minutes to install everything–those Surly racks are a bit of a breast, apparently–and then I was on my way down the hill, around, and back up the hill to meet up with A. and her sweet baby girl for a walk to the park to play on the swings. Continue reading

Baltimore Sign and New TeeVee at Baltimore’s Penn Station

Baltimore Sign and New TeeVee at Baltimore's Penn StationWednesday was so ridiculously hot and humid. As I was getting ready to head out, I idly wondered if it would feel hotter because they’d told me we’d reach a heat index of 106 degrees, or it would actually just *feel* that hot. And then I went outside, and it was just plain hot. My ride started with a quick mile and a half up the hill and over to the YMCA where I exercised in air conditioned comfort before heading home and swapping out bikes for the much hotter ride to campus, by way of the MARC train. It was the kind of hot where the wind going downhill feels like it’s blowing from a furnace–no cooling there. Continue reading

Bare Trees Against a Blue Sky at the Druid Hill Park Reservoir

Bare Trees Against a Blue Sky at the Druid Hill Park ReservoirIt was a warm and humid Thursday, and I spent the latter part of it in too many clothes, on my bike, riding around Druid Hill Park to check out how the trees are doing. Turns out they’re doing fine, mostly free of leaves and stretching bare branches against the blue sky. The warm day brought a lot of folks out to do their laps, including several road cyclists who easily passed my as a leisurely pedaled in circles, a song on repeat that always reminds me of riding through New Orleans all by myself amidst the varied crowds of a  Mardi Gras Day. Oh, nostalgia, sometimes you are such a treat. Continue reading

Geese on the Druid Hill Park Reservoir

Geese on the Water at the Druid Hill Park ReservoirOh, it wasn’t easy to leave the perfect mid-70s sunshine of New Orleans for the sleeting skies of Baltimore, but I live here now, so there you go. Yesterday was a bit chilly, but we got a surprise (to me) warm up under heavy clouds today. Things started to look more and more like rain, so I put on my bike shoes and headed to the park for a few turns around the reservoir. It was so, so warm, so I took off my coat, shoved it in my pannier, and pedaled my way to the park. Continue reading

The Old Mechanic Theater Near Charles Center in Downtown Baltimore

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Friday’s ride took me out in impressive heat to tag along with E. and C. for a test ride of Baltimore Heritage and Bikemore’s new urban renewal history-by-bike tour. E. and C. are just my kind of nerds, proven again as we all donned our helmets and took the lane on a pedal from Mount Vernon Square down to Shot Tower, over through the squares of the business district, over to Lexington Market, and up to State Center at Eutaw and Lafayette where I got to learn more about the building that reduced me to tears trying to find a way in. I learned a ton, and you will too if youtake the ride on a hopefully cooler day in late August. A couple of highlights for me: urban renewal projects often had their roots in much, much earlier urban planner fantasy worlds, but now federal funds were available to make them come true, which also helps explain some of the truly outsized results~see, for example, the ginormous main post office in what was to have been the Shot Tower industrial park. I also learned about Brutalist architecture, and what happens when money dries up before the building’s done~hint: now it really is just stacks of concrete. I took this picture at Mechanic Center, of the old Mechanic Theater that will soon be torn down. Rumor was Mr. Mechanic bought out all the old theaters and closed them to direct traffic to his place, but it wasn’t quite so planned as all that. When he couldn’t fit a helicopter on stage for Miss Saigon he had his own comeuppance, and the Hippodrome was born. Or something like that. His theater is on its way down to make room for another round of development as the city continues to try to figure out how to rebirth itself. Hopefully it will leave at least traces of its past, as in the last round that kept buildings like the ones in the background of this picture. The other thing I learned is something it’s hard not to know if you bike around this town and pay a teensy bit of attention. Urban renewal was also about renforcing and enabling even more impressive forms of racial segregation. I thought about that at our most bustling stop on the tour: the transit station at Howard & Lex. There are lots of calls to revitalize the Westside, but to these eyes it looks pretty vital, the street full of people, but maybe not the sort of people city planners want bustling around the city center. This stuff has long, old roots, and the drug war is an old, old alibi. I don’t think we’ll solve the heroin and cocaine problem in this city by building a Superblock over there. But I digress. It was a great tour that taught me whole bunch of new stuff I need to learn about. And old stuff, like bring a lot more water than you think you need on a day as hot as this one, and yes, sunscreen works.

Looking Up at Redwood & Light

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I don’t know if you’ve heard, but the Mid-Atlantic’s having something of a heat wave. All these day at or near 100 degrees can wear on a girl, but I have decided that the best thing to do is hydrate and pedal slowly~it’s still better than getting in a car. Thursday’s ride took me flying down the hill (when they warned me about hills, they forgot to tell me how awesome that part is) to Federal Hill for a massage and then a trip to the wine bar with A. for a good ol’ 1% afternoon. the heat’s not really an issue on the downhills, so I had plenty of ire saved up for the FOUR vehicles parked on the bike/ped path around the Inner Harbor. I grr’ed my way around and then granny geared up the hill and over for a long cooling session in the Harris Teeter. After a positively lovely conversation it was time to head home, this time under ominous clouds with strong winds. The sweat was pouring by the time I stopped at the light at Redwood and Light. I looked up and snapped this picture; from this angle it almost looks like we live in a big city. Back on the bike, back up the hill, a quick stop to snag S. from the outdoor concert at Mt. Vernon, and on to home, another steamy day of cycling for transportation done. It really is a better way to go, even if it does mean more showering.