Large amounts of rain mean no dirt for the local crew - bad for them, good for me as it forces the Wednesday night ride onto the pavement. A half dozen of us head out - larger than usual once the colder weather hit and the clocks got set back, but smaller than the days of warm. In actuality it's probably the group that makes up the core.
We are off to the BWI trail, first time I've been there since the asphalt dive that is featured in many recent posts. The temps have dropped and it's getting chilly, forecast to be in the low 20's (F) later tonight. Nothing like that yet, but plenty cool once the sun has gone down - plus we've got a nice wind working. It feels like winter as we stand around waiting for the last riders to get their gear together. My comrades in the American tundra of Minneapolis would probably laugh because it's not winter here yet with a daytime temp of 50.
We head out on the loop and the air is crisp and clear. I dig this ride for the twinkling lights of the airport and the planes coming in and taking off. Two parts of the loop go directly by runways and when the timing is right - which it is more often than not - a jet blasts right overhead on it's way in or out of the airport.
Tonight, when I'm behind another rider I make sure to keep my distance - I want no repeats of my last ride here. High winds during the day have scattered branches all over the trail and make you stay on your toes too. Instead of doing 3 loops that turn to monotony, midway through we peel off onto the B&A Trail, an old rail bed that connects Glen Burnie to Annapolis. A nice diversion, we clock an hour of riding, then turn around, backtrack the B&A and finish off the BWI loop. Probably a bit over 30 miles.
Post ride half of us hit the little authentic Mexican joint right off the train and top the night off w/ cheap eats and beer. Tacos, burritos and beer - Oh my!
The Train Waits For No One //
Wednesday - December 1, 2004
Monday morning I'm running a few minutes late - it doesn't take much these days and ever minute counts. The train waits for no one. I'm practically kicking the door down as I maneuver the bike outside. Activate the flashing LEDs, swing a leg over the Blue Falcon and burn down the alley.
It's still pretty dark out, official sunrise is not for another half hour. I crank through the neighborhood and start my descent. The train is a bit over a mile away and the morning ride is almost all downhill. I quickly run out of gear and freewheel it down the hill, crouching down to get a bit more aero and eek some extra seconds from my trip. The air is cold and crisp and, like every morning, wind generated tears are streaming across my face. At the bottom of the hill I bang a quick right, start turning the cranks again on the flats, then a quick left onto Tom Day Blvd. Despite it's name, it's only one block long. From here I have a straight ahead view of the train tracks and I breath a sigh of relief as I don't see the train yet. It's short lived. As I'm halfway down the block I see it pulling into the pickup area. Shit, I don't want to miss it. Next train isn't for another half-hour and there's not a damn thing to do if I've got to sit around. I stomp on the pedals and rail through the merge ramp that spits me onto Southwestern Blvd., almost taking out a pedestrian running for the train and not checking for traffic. Good thing I wasn't a car. Another couple of cranks and I almost nail another late commuter who fails to look to her left. Wake up people! Almost there now, I sprint for the parking lot, swing it in the entrance and make a wide arc to the bike rack. The train is loading, looks like most people are on board. Unhook the lock, fumble with the key, get things secured and slide in with 30 seconds to spare.
No Title Today, will anybody notice? //
Tuesday - November 30, 2004
The holiday weekend starts off with a thundering boom with heavy duty rockers Clutch laying down an hour and a half set Wednesday night, swollen with cuts spanning all of their albums. It was a sold out show but with a little luck Aaron and his girl scored tix out front and six of us proceeded to bang our heads.
Turkey day I pop early, ears ringing and the stench of last night's show clinging to my body. Time to ride. Bleary eyed, gulping coffee, I hear staccato tapping at the window. Heavy rain coming down. It was supposed to pass through last night but must have been late arriving. Radar shows it moving out, so the ride is on. I grabbed the fixed and my gear.
We are off to hit the Gwynns Falls trail, an urban greenway they've been piecing together for some time. Old fire road, crushed gravel and pavement running parallel to the namesake of the trail. A beautiful slice of geography marred by massive amounts of trash from flooding and runoff. Welcome to consumer culture - disposable and plastic. As it stands now, the area is like a super model with 2nd degree burns on 50% of her body - you can still see the beauty and hope it all heals, but right now you are looking at a distorted picture. Don't get me wrong dear readers, it's still enjoyable even if it does go through some urban wasteland and not always the best neighborhoods. Lots of cool bridges, rocks and waterfalls make this a small oasis in the concrete jungle. We need more of these.
Saturday I fly solo, fixed again, out to Patapsco, further upstream than I usually ride. In search of flattish fire road type riding. A steep and rocky jeep road connector on the T-day ride confirmed there is no real off-road action for me for a while, even if I want to disobey the doctors orders. I find what I'm looking for, but mileage-wise it's only about half of what I need to begin to be satisfied. On the flip side, with all of the leaves down I get spectacular views of the river valley and spot some cool rocky cliffs I've never noticed before. Cool enough that Julie and I return on Sunday to hike to them from the other side of the river. A nice long slog to get to them on trails that are barely visible when not covered and almost nonexistent when under the leaves. The highlight is a wide open view of the river. Not a bad way to spend the weekend at all.