This morning, laying in bed clearing the sleep from my eyes, I decided to begin a daily bike ride I’ve been planning since August of 2004. Last weekend, I pulled both my bikes out of the basement and inflated the tires, checked the chains, and tested the brakes. They’re now hanging out in the garage on hooks, where they should get more use and will be easier to access.
This morning’s ride took me southward to the edge of the Patapsco Valley State park, which is walking distance from the house here. The weather has been unseasonably cool and dry for June in Maryland, cool enough that I’m kicking myself for not taking advantage of it two weeks ago. Come August, I’m going to be getting up at 5:30 to get in a half-hour’s ride before I melt into a puddle of slag in the bike lane.
I used to be a pretty avid rider when I lived in the city and worked for Johns Hopkins—not a spandex peacock riding a $3,000 carbon-fiber spaceship, but an avid rider who biked to work every day and got in at least two mountain-bike rides a week at my peak. I haunted the local bike shops for used parts to upgrade my rides. I had a set of city wheels for my beater bike, and got to where I was pulling as much crap off the frame to lighten the bike as I could. I used to have rider’s legs and a decent cardiovascular system, which meant I could climb the hill from the Harbor to Eutaw Place without feeling winded, and I could hold my own on the hilly singletrack of Avalon. When I quit Hopkins and started working outside the city, my riding dropped off dramatically, and in the last two years I’ve been on my bikes a total of five times.
Today it felt like coming home, even though I was on my mountain bike for what is really a road bike’s ride. The air was crisp and fresh, the birds were out, and I explored a section of the park I’ve not seen yet. Along the way, I stopped to read a park map and spied a whitetailed deer and her foal creeping through the woods not 50 feet away. We stopped and looked at each other, and in the blink of an eye both were gone as quietly as they’d come. The ride back home is just right for someone as out-of-shape as me; lots of climbing with landings in between to catch one’s breath.
Along the way, I happened upon the only other running Scout I’ve seen in the area, a tan ’78 not unlike ours, parked in a driveway nearer the park, chocked with a 2×4′. If the time comes when I’m ready to give up Chewbacca, I know who to approach for a good home.
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In other news, I got an email from a fellow who publishes an online magazine, asking if he could use some of my Bimini photos to accompany a story he wrote about the island. He also mentioned that the Compleat Angler, a bar/hotel we drank at while we were there, and a historic landmark of the island (Hemmingway preferred to stay there when he was on the island), burned down in January. I can’t tell you how sad this news is, and how devastating this must be for the local economy—there aren’t more than five bars we saw for tourists to visit on the south end of the island, and the Angler was hands-down the one with the most style and panache. On the heels of the plane crash last December, this is just awful news.