You are currently browsing the monthly archive for July 2008.

I know there’s something called “bike season.”  I don’t understand what the hell that means or why it exists.  I like winter riding a lot, despite how annoying all that gear can get.  Summer is not my favorite time to ride.  I mean, I don’t mean to sound all pessimistic and negative, but I frikkin hate July, especially.

This July brought with it a few good things though.  Dan/Mule and I both got very good news.  No real record-breaking heat.  A very fun Moonlight Madness ride and a few other great evening rides.  But perhaps for cycling, the best news I saw this July was the ever-growing number of cyclists around Baltimore.  I know.  Theft is up.  People are trying to scare us back into our cars with articles about how more bikes mean more bike accidents (ignoring that it means less car accidents).  “Riding a bike is dangerous!”  “Bikes don’t belong in the street!”  “I’m safer in my car!”  “My bike will get stolen!”

I’m glad to see that so many people in Baltimore this summer, for whatever reason, have gotten a lock and a clue and are out there riding despite the heat.  Maybe it’s gas prices and necessity.  Maybe it’s that such obstacles to driving have given folks the temptation to take the fun way (i.e., on two wheels — or three!) and have resulted in people remembering or discovering how much fun riding is.  I don’t care.  I like seeing it.  This Sunday, Dan/Mule and I rode to Towson for an errand, and there was bike traffic!

So instead of my usual one-finger salute to July, this time I tip my hat, er, helmet.


Start your engines for an awesome cycling event this Saturday, August 2!

A certain NBBB member works for Greater Homewood Community Corporation, a nonprofit serving 40 neighborhoods in north central Baltimore.  On August 2, GHCC and Waverly Main Street will hold the Third Annual Waverly Village National Night Out Kick-Off Parade on Greenmount Avenue between 35th and 29th Streets.  The parade begins at 11 a.m., but you’re invited to meet us at the Roland Park water tower at 9:30 a.m. for the Tour du Greater Homewood.  This will be a relaxed ride through some of GHCC’s neighborhoods — which happen to be many of our NBBB stomping grounds, too.  Several NBBB-ers are helping to write the route.  Free t-shirts for everyone who rides!

The ride will end at 35th and Greenmount, just in time for the start of the parade.  This year, the parade includes the first Baltimore Bike Pageant, where we’re celebrating cycling as an essential part of City living.  Join us after the Tour du Greater Homewood for the pageant and compete for great prizes from One Less Car, Light Street Cycles, Proteus Bicycles, and REI.  Or plop Fido in your bike basket and be part of the Best Pet Yet Parade, with prizes from Pretentious Pooch and the Baltimore Dog Bakery.

Want to find out more or learn how to sign up?  Visit the Waverly Main Street website here or just meet us at the water tower on August 2 at 9:30.  See you there!

So the Hemingway b-day ride went well. Where better to ride to on Hemingway’s birthday then some where with water, boats and beer? I think he would have approved. The small group of us started out around 8pm from, of course, the water tower. We headed down town via Fallsway to Maryland Ave. We wove our way through the downtown corridors of buildings and buses to the waterfront. We stopped by the Tawny to snap this goofy photo. At this point in the ride the heat was obviously starting to get to us. We continued on to Fell’s where we sat on the pier. There we toasted Hemingway by reading one of his short poems and raising our water bottle. (It was just too damn hot for beer.) After hanging out on the pier a while we decided to start to head back. We rode through Little Italy (one of my old stomping grounds) to Lombard where we then committed ourselves to Calvert for the spin back.

All in all it was a wonder evening ride totalling somewhere around 15 miles. I can’t wait to ride back down town again.  Cheer’s for bikes and Hemingway!!! A great combination.

My commute to work certainly isn’t among the City’s most challenging rides.  Most of it involves a trip down University Parkway — in the morning, heading east, it’s a delightful zip down the bike lane, almost keeping pace with my four-wheeled friends to my left.  On the way home, however, I’m faced with an inevitable uphill climb, and here I think I meet one of Baltimore’s most feared cycling obstacles: the University Parkway Monster — the stretch between Keswick Road and Roland Avenue that is grueling, merciless, and unrelenting.  And don’t even try to make it easier on yourself by cutting through the residential streets to the right (the Evergreen neighborhood).  There’s beautiful scenery, but not much relief.

Since I started my job last fall, I’ve developed all manner of artful ways to get around the University Parkway Monster.  I’ll turn left on Tudor Arms and come through Hampden, or I’ll take a detour through Stony Run.  But last Thursday (and it was H-O-T that day), I made it to the light at University and Keswick and thought, why don’t I give it a try for once?  So I started the climb and actually made it this time!  I was a sweaty sight (and smell) when I got home, but for once, I beat the Monster!

What are some other Monsters you’ve beaten, or have plans to beat, in Baltimore?  I also nominate the stretch of 37th Street between Keswick and Elm in Hampden.

Stay tuned for some upcoming information about the Baltimore Bike Pageant on August 2!

Change the World...
Trek is running a campaign title “1 World 2 Wheels” to help encourage people around the world to ween themselves from their addiction to convenience, which will lessen their carbon footprint at the same time. Shoot, I think that’s bordering on a run-on sentence.

Earlier this year, I tried to calculate my carbon footprint and how much gas I’ll save by cyclocommuting (my goal is 2400 miles this year or 200 per month). I did the math and realized I’d probably spend the savings on additions to my bike, biking clothing, etc. and began to despair. I wasn’t really sure how to calculate my footprint… Wow, that’s the worst paragraph I’ve ever written.

Worry not, young grammarians of North Balto, Trek makes it easy!

Check it our here…

The site has a really fun to use flash-based calculator that helps you figure out how much you could ride per month commuting, getting groceries, etc. When you’re done, you can enter to win a Trek FX bike and get html code to put a widget on your site promoting the whole cause.

Whether you’re a fan of Trek or not, this is a cause that’s easy to support.

(hey check it out- i’ve been deputized into the brigade)

The Moonlight Madness ride has been happening for several years, but I never had ridden it. The organizer, Bob Moore, died earlier this year and I felt that the ride needed to continue at least as a memorial for him. I somewhat reluctantly decided to organize the ride. I threw around some emails, talked it up here and there and printed cues for the ride, but I really had no idea what to expect for a turnout. Yikes! 60+ riders, smiling and eager for a beautiful cruise through charm city.

At 8:30 the riders snaked through Charles st. traffic peacefully. We got a round of cheers as we rolled past the Art Scape booths north of Penn Station. North towards Loyola and Notre Dame, the group broke up into several smaller clusters- everyone chatty, discussing their own personal biking worlds. At the start, I was hectically darting from the front of the group to the back, trying to check on everyone, but eventually settled down and quit worrying about the safety of all these good people. I reminded myself that, like me, all these riders have experienced and come to terms with the difficulties of biking in B’more. They knew what they were doing. Just settle down and enjoy the ride.

Some moments of getting lost south of Bolton hill, re-grouping near Lafayette square, comical moments along “the Block” and down to Fells pt. for a lemonade break. Then to the all-knowing glow of Mr. Bo, Patterson park, back across town to Pratt and the Inner Harbor, and up Federal Hill. Finally, an easy cruise back up Charles st. to the Baltimore Hostel again. It was 11:30pm.

I made an attempt to convince the NBBB members to be irresponsible and get a beer (or two) with me at Mick O’Shea’s, but they’d have nothing of it. Best for me too I guess. There was a friendly and sizable crew for the ride back to Hampden- the full moon partly lighting up the potholes and broken glass.

I’d call it casual, but they’re all casual.  A few of us are planning on taking a leisurely ride from the Watertower to Fell’s Point, have a lemonade/other treat at the foot of Broadway, and then return.  We’ll be at the Watertower after 7:30, and we’ll plan to leave at 8:00.  Monday.  Tomorrow.  The 21st.  Hemingway‘s birthday.  Anyone who wants to come is totally welcome.  But please wear a helmet and have your safety lights on.  Safety vests are encouraged and damned stylish.

One caveat:  If there are storms, the ride is cancelled.  Drivers don’t know what to do in the case of storms, and it’s not worth the risk of getting flattened by someone on the phone in a land yacht with the windshield blinded by a downpour.  If there was a place you had to be, it might be different, but this is just fun.  (Before you call us sissies, ask yourself if you ride in the rain and in the winter.  Because we do.)

Are things changing? This article actually mentions “biking” and “a way of life” and it’s a very main stream msn article. Some of the problems it speaks of I don’t really see as bad. I just see them as an adjustment period. It’s also nice to know I’m not crazy when I think to myself, man there are more bikes out on the road than there used to be.

Do you know what causes 24% of cycling deaths?

a) Drunk cyclist.
b) Drunk driver.
c) Driver on cell phone.
d) Cyclist on cell phone.

I didn’t get it right.  Go here to see the answer, which is surprisingly optimistic.

Also, from the Baltimore Examiner, a scare-you article on the increase in cycling fatalities nationwide.  As if they are anywhere near automobile fatalities or even pedestrians.  Notice the lack of any local fatality statistics — and the asshole comments at the end!  You can’t blame everything on drivers.  This much is true: “‘For those [cyclists] who run traffic lights or go the wrong way in traffic — you’re hurting the rest of us.'”  But let’s not forget the people in huge metal boxes that kill cyclists.  You know, they hurt us more, no?

Being safe is one thing.  I wear a helmet myself, have lights on my bike, use a safety vest after dark.  I’m not stupid; I know that Baltimore drivers don’t look for cyclists all the time, not all of them.  But I’m sick of authors/bloggers/jerks talking people out of cycling because they can’t/don’t/won’t ride.  If you choose to drive, that’s your thing, man.  How would you like people telling you how unsafe it is constantly, especially when, statistically, it is?  Get over your issues.

Cycling is safer, mile for mile, than even walking.  Look it up.  Are you scared to walk?

[Image courtesy of Philip in Iowa City, used with permission.]

Thursday, Thursday, Thursday! Some of us will finally meet Thursday in person, on, er, pedals.

Ride Start: in front of the Youth Hostel at the corner of Mulberry and Cathedral. (catty-corner from the Pratt Library)

Ride is casual 10-12mph. Approximately 20 miles. You must have a properly functioning bike, be wearing a helmet, and have safety lights on front and back.

I will bring cue sheets.

Sundown is at 8:30 and a nearly full moon rising about the same time.

The Moonlight Madness Ride.  See the excellent Baltimore Spokes for more info.

NBBB info: A few of us are meeting at the Watertower in Hampden/Roland Park/ Hoes Heights and riding down as a group, if anyone wants to join us.  The early news this morning says NO RAIN, just heat sans humidity.  Should make for a nice sunset.  We’ll probably start rounding up after “The Simpsons” and leave around 8:00 p.m. for the youth hostel, with Mr. Zack leading most likely, since he rides that way daily.  Ride organizers request helmet and lights (fantastic idea).  If you wanna be part of the closest thing this here club does to jerseys, wear yer good ole safety vest.  (Yeah, we do that.)  Please leave a comment with contact info (won’t be published) so we know who to wait for.

Holy crud, how come this is not being publicized more by the local stations and The Sun?  On July 25-27, there is a three day celebration of BIKE LIFE in Baltimore!  It’s the first event of it’s kind, and it will be here!

More info here.  Hope to see you there.

Shoes. In my opinion one of the most important articles of clothing you wear while riding. They are the contact point between human and bike. Transferring the power to the pedals, keeping your feet gripped to the pedals, and keeping your feet protected from hazards and the elements. I’m not talking about cleated bike shoes. I’m just talking about shoes you wear when riding. I know some people that prefer sandals and some that prefer tennis shoes and some that wear flip-flops. Of course the weather may dictate what kind of shoes you wear while riding. Myself, I prefer high top chucks, year round.  Anybody have a love for a particular shoe to wear while riding or have ever ridden in a particularly strange shoe? My most unusual would be a pair of tuxedo dress shoes at a friend’s wedding.

Last weekend, especially, I noticed something regarding the two-wheeling adventures of my fellow Charm City residents:

A big increase in people riding their bikes on the sidewalks, even in Hampden/Roland Park where there are nice bike lanes.

Now, mind you, I’m not talking about twelve year olds on BMXs.  I’m talking about people on hybrids and old road bikes, some with helmets and a bike rack.  While I’d be hard-pressed to explain exactly how I get this impression, but most of these folks strike me as new cyclists, or, at least, new commuters.

Don’t get me wrong.  I get annoyed when some jackass comes barreling down the sidewalk while I’m walking somewhere, and they expect me to move.  Unless I’m actually going to get run over, I don’t move.  In case you live under the proverbial rock, everyone has to yield to pedestrians in Maryland, even cyclists on the sidewalk.  Read the law.  I mean, I often think to myself, “You sissy, get in the road!”  More often, I get a sigh or a nasty comment from the person who is actually being rude and doing something that is both dangerous and illegal.

But there’s something different about some of these new-seeming folks.  For one, they are polite.  They ride around you or excuse themselves and wait for your response.  That’s just plain nice, no matter how you are travelling.  They are on the sidewalk, so they ride at walking speed.  And they seem like they are paying attention to traffic, people on foot and where they are riding.  In other words, they seem like conscientious cyclists.

I know, the topic of riding on the sidewalk gets people fired up.  I’ll own up to riding on the sidewalk on some scarier parts of Northern Parkway, when traffic is bad and when no one’s walking on the sidewalk.  I’ll also admit to speeding on the sidewalk from the corner of my street, twenty yards or so to my apartment building — and that I once scared the crap out of two of my neighbors doing that at night (for which I apologized).

I don’t know what my point is, except maybe to relate some new commuters in Mob Town and how happy that makes me, even if they are not using the sweet new bike lanes in North Baltimore.

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