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Here’s a place you’ve probably seen a thousand times but never been to. The conservatory sits right on the JFT in Druid Hill park http://www.baltimoreconservatory.org/main.php. Makes for a nice ride destination, especially if you’re riding a high wheeler.
In the fall, University Parkway was resurfaced (check out the video of it getting eaten). The blacktop has been nice since then, but it’s lacked markings. As soon as the weather warmed a few weeks ago, the traffic lanes and bike lane lines went back up. Today, a crew was out on North-bound West University Parkway, putting in markings within the lanes. They look fantastic! Many thanks to the work of folks like Nate!
I don’t think it’s my imagination that the number of cyclists seems to go up in Baltimore each spring — not merely up from the winter, but up from the year before. I’m sure even non-cyclists have noticed the increase in two-wheeled warriors over the last few weeks (especially the end of this week).
But I was wondering today if this year’s particularly terrible winter might have something to do with an increase in people engaging in outdoor activities in general. Were there folks who thought, “This winter’s been a doozy. I want to get outside more this spring. How can I? Riding a bike would work….”
Or maybe I’m universalizing my own relief that spring is here, matched perhaps only by my last winter/spring in Boston in 2003.
Winter cycling has its own rewards. But spring cycling means more company. (Check out Let’s Go Ride a Bike, for a post about commuting company, and this old NBBB post.) My co-worker and I went 1/2 way home together yesterday. And I haven’t been the only cyclist on the Jones Falls Trail at all since spring got here.
I haven’t. This is a terrible cell-phone picture from when I was waiting for the bus this morning. I can walk to the grocery store and didn’t work last week. So getting-around sans bike hasn’t been much of an issue for me. But I realize that not everyone lives a ten minute walk from two markets and can telecommute when necessary.
Anyone have any cool snow/ice/bike stories from this storm/these storms?
Wow. Feet and feet of snow this winter, ruining so many nice bike rides. Sure, riding in snow is fun and do-able, but not in two feet of the stuff. Or maybe I’m just a sissy for not riding when my hubs, bottom bracket and feet would be under snow. With what else is coming, I’ll bet half the bikes in Baltimore lost their minds. Maybe their riders’ minds, too.
[Pardon the terrible camera-phone picture.]
After last night’s rain and this morning’s wind, there’s stuff all over Baltimore’s streets and paths, waiting to get in your way on your ride to/from work/school. I was dodging sticks and wet clumps of gravel this morning, when I happened upon this big mess on the Jones Falls Trail, just South of the 28th and 29th Street[s] bridges. If I were not already late for work and had a saw/ax on me, I might have contributed to getting it out of the way.
I also saw an open box of Trek bike frames near the Streetcar Museum’s shed. Bizarre. They looked new?
Also, in a score for cyclists, a piece of my apartment building’s slate roof was on the walkway when I left this morning. It was large enough, sharp enough and came from high enough that it would probably have killed you if it landed on your head. In a Nutcase-esque helmet, though, I don’t know. Maybe not. Though, damn. It’s scary to think of what a piece of slate the size of a small pizza could do, from the top of 4 1/2 stories.
Anyway, I made it to the Maryland Avenue bridge, two blocks from my office this morning, before the rain started. I heard these bangs and thought, “What the @#$% is that?” It was huge rain drops hitting my hardshell helmet. In the two blocks in which I sped to work, I got completely drenched. But on my entire ride up to that point, the very very wet roads and paths didn’t affect my sandal-clad feet, as my excellent fenders kept me very dry. I’m wearing wet jeans and wet flannel now at work on my lunchbreak, though. Not very comfortable.
It was a good ride. With the wind that woke me up two hours before my alarm, I almost took the bus. But with how nice it’s going to be this afternoon, I’d have felt like a schmuck standing on Charles Street and watching everyone else have all the fun. To boot, the rain window during rush hour probably beckoned more folks than just me who were teetering on whether to ride or not in that wind. Until the end, the skies were dry, if very cloudy.
And the wind: a moderate headwind for my entire ride, with some scary gusts. I had to pedal downhill. But it was good. I need the exercise. My bike was drenched, so I carried up the 14 flights to my office. That hurt more than I want to admit. My big ass is very out of shape.
I did! I am almost ashamed of the bevy of bike goodies I scored this year for Christmas from my family members. Even more than last year. First, there’s the Christmas bulb pictured above.
Next, there’s the Planet Bike Blaze 2 Watt LED front headlight. I’ve had the 1 Watt Blaze for a while and have really liked it. I’ve sort of always mean to “review” it, but we don’t usually do that stuff — not on principle or anything. Anyway, on the way back from Moonlight Madness, a Honda stopped while Dan and I were pulling out from getting some soda. The driver said something like, “Your light is giving me a headache. That’s a crazy light.” We didn’t know what to say, and I think she got embarrassed because she just said, “Well, at least you’re safe,” and drove off. Another time, more recently, I was riding up Roland Avenue in Hampden. There’s a lady on a motorized chair who rides in the bike lanes. It would piss me off, but she always does it against traffic, always yields to bikes and always gives you a, “Hey, Hon.” I like her. One night she said, “Hey, buddy, I like your light!” I thanked her as I sped home in the dark. I can’t wait to see what the 2 Watt will evince from folks.
The mini pump I carry is a piece of junk. It was literally the cheapest one at the store that I picked up to have on me just in case. It’s gotten me home before when I got flats. But it’s a work-out to use that beast. My brother got me the Planet Bike Peace Pump (mini) I wanted. It doesn’t quite fit my saddle bag with my other stuff in it like I’d hoped, but I plan to work it out.
Half of the reason we all carry repair gear (I assume) is to help other people out of a jam. This pump only does presta valves; so I almost feel like a jerk carrying it. Also, my tire gauge needs the schrader adapter anyway. I might have just made more work for myself next time I run a flat. But: It’s so pretty!
I feel like a sucker carrying my repair gear on my back, but I don’t feel like loading up (or paying for) panniers — when it’s hard enough to get my bike out of my bedroom, then apartment, then building. So my brother also gave me the Big Buddy Saddlebag. It attaches just like the Timbuk2 version I bought and returned this fall. However, it wins over the T2 version because it has reflective piping (which you can see in the picture) and because, well, it has a light loop like almost every other saddlebag out there. Timbuk2 was so worried about their logo that they did not include a light loop. I have a rack-mounted light (I run two rears lights), but most folks would lose their lights with the Timbuk2 version, since it covers up the entire seatpost anyway. Bad design, bad. The light loop on the Planet Bike version, by the way, perfectly fits Planet Bike’s rear lights, pretty securely. And the big one holds (with room to spare): 3 tire levers; tire gauge; big patch kit; multi-tool; 32×700 tube.
(Seen here with Superflash Stealth)
Finally, my winter gloves are missing since I moved in June, and my lighter full-finger gloves got, literally, destroyed in April when I crashed. (I should take some pictures; there’s still some blood on there.) From my parents, who gave me the bulb and headlight, I received the Planet Bike Borealis Winter Gloves. These suckers have the pinky and ring-finger together for added warmth and are supposed to be waterproof. The Giant gloves I had last year were very warm. But in weather like we’ve been having lately, speeding-winds usually rendered my pinkies numb and useless — not to mention that when they got wet, I froze. I haven’t gotten these wet yet, but I’m hoping they’ll help with my cracked/bloody knuckles. This one, from this past weekend, cracked like an egg in a few places and really bled a lot.
So what kind of awesome bike gifts did ya’ll give/receive? I gave someone awesome a nice rear light for a birthday in December, but I can’t say I gave a single bike-related holiday gift this year.
Obviously. Snow riding can be fun. But riding through the mounds of frozen goo left by plows and cars and people shoveling into the street — not to mention black ice — is not the casual ride we had in mind. Five people getting hurt on a ride isn’t going to promote or celebrate cycling so much.
How about next week or a New Year ride?
Monday, December 21st. Early evening/after work. Stay tuned for the time/place, as we watch the winter weather unfold. As much as riding in snow and ice can be fun, doing it for the hell of it sounds like an invitation for injuries. So if the weather’s bad, we’ll have to do a post-Christmas or New Year’s ride.
This is a mega casual ride — not a critical mass or memorial ride by any means. Bring a Thermos! It’s just fun to get together and celebrate winter cycling. If the weather does not cooperate, perhaps we could all get some beers somewhere fun that night?
More info this weekend.
The forecast looks grim, with snow this weekend, which will thaw a little and refreeze Monday night (in the 20s), making for black ice and other nastiness. As much as winter riding is fun, we’d like to be uninjured and enjoy it. Personally, I’d hate for anyone to get hurt when we should be having fun. We’ll have to call it after Saturday when we know how bad it is.
With this cold, wet, snowy mess hitting Baltimore today, I thought perhaps we could use photos of that beautiful, sunny November day when we all paid tribute to Jack Yates and to cycling in [North] Baltimore.
Josh, from Baltimore Bicycle Works.
Liam, from Cyclosity.
GHCC board member John.
Finally, Mr. Dan finishing the ride!
Today is overcast and cool. It’s the perfect day to ride to a coffee shop and get a cup. Then on the way home find some leaves to ride through.
Today, it’s cold. Cold by October standards. If today was a day in March, things would be different. But when I rode over to Service Photo on Falls Road to pick up film today, I seriously regretted leaving my pants in New York when I was there last. I slightly over compensated by putting on a fleece vest over my rain jacket. And rubbed some embrocation on the legs which actually worked pretty well. Actual pants would have been ideal. And to top it off, we are in for one very snowy and cold Baltimore Winter.
Anyway, I look at these few weeks as a good way to gauge which commuters you won’t be seeing for the next 4 months. The short distance commuters at MICA and Hopkins seem to thin out and retreat to the warmth of the school shuttles. The racks at MICA are half full, which is a plus, but also lonely.
Sometimes it’s downright depressing with so many empty racks, I even start to miss the backwards locked, space hogging cargo bikes and fixed gears with inexplicable hand-knitted top tube warmers. Seriously. – But enough about that. Point is, this time of year, commutes downtown seem even more desolate. The Hopkins ride listserv slows down just as I need to start doing more base miles, and as I ride north on Charles or Guilford, I see less and less little blinky lights shimmering off in the distance.
We can look forward to awesome snow rides though.
[Liam lives in Oakenshawe, and studies photography at MICA, with a minor in complaining about the way people lock their bikes.]
Don’t look for this today. It’s raining!
And my fenders do rejoice.
This Sunday, Dan, Johnny and Zack took a very short (like an hour and a half maybe) ride last-minute because Johnny had to return Zack’s rims to him — trued rims, replaced spoke and patched tire. I mean, folks who ride centuries might scoff at our trip to Druid Hill, down the full length of the Jones Falls Trail and then back up Charles Street to University Parkway. But a nice 12-20 mile ride is just our idea of fun.
All the better if, at the end, there’s a bad flat when we’re near someone’s apartment. Baltimore City tap water (with lemon!) and air conditioning are nice, followed by beers and a little bike work. Hell, how could you say “no” to that?
Anyone up for a short little ride after dinner/evening Thursday night? Nothing big — just meeting at (what’s left of) the Watertower and a 10-20 mile fun ride to end there, perhaps with a coffee stop….