Celebrating in May

There’s plenty to celebrate in May. Mothers’ Day. Spring. Azaleas. Sunshine. National Bike Month. I declared today my day to celebrate it all. I started by sleeping a little later than usual and then making French toast (which John says was German toast before WWII).  It was sehr gut or tres bon. Given that we are likely to get rain later on, I made it a point to ride this morning.

This seemed the ideal day to check out a different route for my short but challenging commute to the local MARC station.

This is what I tried:

Leaving Catonsville is pleasant riding. Not much traffic mid-morning and this route takes back roads past a golf course, through the UMBC campus and Arbutus, former (thankfully) governor Bob Erhlich’s birthplace. It has a cute little downtown, with a restaurant or two, a Rite Aid and an old fashioned looking movie theater.  Right now you can see the new Vin Diesel movie there.

I got to Tom Day Boulevard (possibly the shortest boulevard in the world) and stopped to raise the seatpost a bit. I had my multi tool with me, but it doesn’t have a wrench of the right size. After a quick drink of water, I headed back. The return route Google directions were a bit off, but despite that I didn’t get lost.  It’s rare for me to be able to say that.  I went right past a branch of the bank I use. Wish I’d known it was there; I could have deposited a check. Mental note to remember this location.

The route home is challenging, starting with a steady climb up through UMBC to Hilltop Road. They aren’t kidding with that name. It could be called Alpine Road. By the time you get off the traffic circle and are going up toward the golf club you are doing some serious grinding. I was making it, tough as it was, when about 100 feet from the crest I ditched my pannier right into the road. An alert driver saw it happen and drove slowly around it. I tossed my bike on someone’s lawn and grabbed the pannier before the next vehicle reached it.  This incident was entirely due to rider failure. Having switched panniers several times lately, I entirely forgot to attach the bottom hook to the rack. Another mental note: always attach the Sackaroo’s bungee!

I walked  that last bit of hill  (no way to start from a dead stop at that point) and hopped back into the saddle. Not that the ride became easy from there. There were still 2 more hills, one of them quite steep, the second nothing much at all. Two young guys in a shiny white pick up passed me, shouting either derisively or encouragingly. I choose to believe the latter and feel cheered.  After making it home I found the right wrench, adjusted the seat post and think I’ve gotten it right now.

This route is longer and steeper than the scary one that takes you by the highway on/off ramps. Not sure it’s better. At any rate it was a good one for a beautiful day off. Happy National Bike Month!

Near Tom Day Blvd


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