Despite the forecast for blazing hot weather, many local cyclists took the opportunity to ride this past weekend – and Kate and I did the same, riding through some wonderful parts of Baltimore in their 10th Annual “Tour dem Parks, Hon!” event. Sponsored by the Mayor’s Bicycle Advisory Committee , the Department of Recreation & Parks, and the Department of Planning / Office of Sustainability – this event has reportedly grown in attendance rapidly, and it is not surprising why.
There are four distance options, the shortest being 12 and the longest being a metric century – but given the forecast and our recent lack of biking, we settled on the 36 mile route, dubbed “Le Grande Tour”, which took us through all five major parks (Carroll, Druid, Herring Run, Clifton, and Patterson) and a handful of other small parks (and by the Ace of Cakes shop).
Starting from Carroll park we headed up the mostly quiet and shaded Gwynns Falls Trail (mostly quiet because we actually heard the loud crashing of a tree randomly falling in the woods), the incredibly cute historic village of Dickeyville. From there we traveled on road to Hanlon Park, then the refreshingly cool wooded paths of the Jones Falls Trail through Druid Hill Park (Droodle Park if you’re a Bal’mer native). After winding through the Johns Hopkins Homewood campus we found Lake Montebello and Herring Run Park, as well as Clifton Park. The final rest stop, in perhaps the most popular or Baltimore Parks – Patterson Park was a welcome chance to refill water bottles and have a snack before the final run through the Inner Harbor and Federal Hill, then back to Carroll Park for some relaxation, food, jazz and a couple of ice cold kegs of beer from the Brewers Art.
The crowd was a great mix of people of all sorts of cycling backgrounds, which made it fun as we all explored together. I’ve proclaimed love for Baltimore previously, and once again this ride proved my convictions. Though the city has a reputation for crime and poverty, it also has more civic infrastructure (and an accompanying sense of community) than many major cities. There are parks, amphitheaters, botanical gardens, zoos, playing fields, colleges and universities, informal meeting places – and more. I think it is a wonderful city, and was glad that we got to ride through it again. Much thanks to the organizers, they did a spectacular job.
Afterwards we tried to visit the new bar/store in Brewers Hill that was opened by the Stillwater Artisinal Ales folks “Of Love and Regret“, but alas it wasn’t open for the day. Instead we headed to Heavy Seas Alehouse for some snacks, brews and the final innings of the O’s game. What a great day!