First Day of Classes

So today, I rode the upper Grist Mill Trail through Patapsco State Park, took River Rd. to Ellicott City, then rode up Oella Ave. and into Catonsville via the No. 9 Trolley Trail.  No issues at all until I went to turn from Bloomsbury Ave. onto Asylum La. to cut through Spring Grove.  Asylum was blocked by a large fallen tree, and apparently they’re not in a big hurry to clear it out.  No way around it on either side, so I had to drag the bike through a bit of foliage, but it was passable.  There was a small section that looked more beaten-down than the rest, no doubt from other riders doing the same thing, so I did my part and helped tamp it down some more.

Other than the tree, there was not much to report.  There was a big fallen power line on Oella Ave. right near the Oella Mill complex.  I’m guessing some people there are still without power.  River Rd. was clear and dry, with no mud, and only one little area with a bit of runoff.  Lots of friendly riders, walkers and joggers out in the park.

Today is the first day of fall classes at UMBC.  Traditionally during this week, I’ve always come onto campus via Poplar Ave.  However, ever since they started the new zoned parking plan last year, the traffic on Hilltop Circle has increased quite a bit, particularly early in the semester.  Today I decided to try coming in via Walker Ave. instead, and it wasn’t too bad.  There was a bit more traffic on Wilkens Ave. than in the summer, but the traffic light at Wilkens and Valley Rd. does a good job of metering the traffic.  When I come in this way, I don’t have to ride on Hilltop at all.  I just cross it, then take the access road behind the library parking garage, and follow the trail over to the Engineering/Fine Arts building area.  It looks like Walker will be a viable way to come onto campus, so the only route I’ll need to avoid is Hilltop Rd., which I’ve been riding less and less anyway.

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That time of year

So, in the past week, central Maryland has weathered an earthquake and a hurricane.  Now we get to weather the first week of fall classes at UMBC, which is always exciting, and almost never in a good way.  We’ll see what this year has in store for us.

Took my first post-Irene bike ride to work today.  The goal was to scout out Patapsco State Park, to see if there were any downed trees or debris to block my passage.  Today I rode into the park on the Howard County side via River Rd., past the Avalon day use area, out to the swinging bridge, and back via the Grist Mill Trail.  Figuring there’d be lots of debris to negotiate, I took my mountain bike.  This part of the park turned out to be in great shape.  There was definitely evidence of recent trail maintenance, which must have taken place yesterday or Sunday.  There were no fallen trees blocking the road or trail, and no more debris than you’d expect after any average summer storm.  Tomorrow, I’ll ride the upper section of the Grist Mill Trail out to Ilchester Rd., and check out how River Rd. fared in the storm.

Howard County schools are back in session starting today (one day late, again thanks to Irene) which means that for the next couple of weeks, I’m going to avoid riding on Montgomery Rd. in the mornings.  I’ll start my rides by going down Lawyers Hill Rd., and then vary the routes from there.  If I’m feeling adventurous, maybe I’ll even attempt a few climbs up the notorious Ilchester Rd.

It seems like the biggest fallout from Hurricane Irene has been the power outages.  Apparently it’s going to take until the weekend to get power restored to everybody.  Irene’s track was very similar to Hurricane Floyd back in 1999, and I remember Floyd causing a lot of power outages.  It seems worse this time around.  It might just be because the area has gotten so much denser and built out in the 12 years since Floyd.  The more electrical infrastructure you build, the more you have to support, and the more vulnerable it is to storms like Floyd and Irene.