Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Single Combat

When I bike on the streets, I am scrupulous about following laws and regulations. Not because I'm some sort of goody-goody; I enjoy breaking rules as much as the next 8 year old boy. But a few close calls in my past convinced me. If I get in front of a car, they might get their paint scratched. I get my legs broken. Risk assessment has to account for probability AND degree.

And it isn't enough for me to just follow the rules myself. I want everyone else to follow the rules, too. For a two main reasons: 1) If you follow the rules, you're less likely to directly endanger me, and 2) drivers often don't respect bikers since so many bikers break the rules. If there is a stop sign, put your foot down and stop. You wouldn't drive right through, right? So drivers learn to disrespect bikers, making it more likely they'll endanger me, no matter what I'm doing.

So it pisses me off when a cyclist rolls through a red light, or doesn't give me a bell or an "on your left" when they pass. And some guy did _b0th_ of those things, one after the other, this morning.

I often mark other cyclists as my goal for that particular ride. Usually, I see them up ahead, and make it my target to catch them before a particular point, or when our paths split. But this guy cruised by and built a big lead, and I knew I had my target for my morning ride.

Problem was, this son-of-a-bitch was fast. He was bigger than me, and riding a mountain bike vice my road bike. And I had to push to catch him. Our paths were almost identical - I trailed him from the intersection of Glebe and Commonwealth all the way to the 14th Street Bridge. And he drafted off me until Maine Avenue. About 4 miles or so, all told. Not much of a race, but it was a regular duel, exhausting. But I gained satisfaction. I made sure to yell "on your left" particularly loud, over the interstate traffic, as I passed him.

That was when a grey-haired gentleman passed me like I was standing still. Without making a sound. Damn it... He went the other way at the Jefferson, so I never had a chance to return the favor. I'll see you tomorrow, old man.

Of course, the locker room was unbearably hot, and the cold water ran out (how does that happen?) so I was overheated all morning. And the forecast reads "scorching" for this afternoon. I sure wish my big A/C unit was working right now.


Ryan Eling said...

You should never bike in Boston because...

"It's Thunderdome!"

Weaving, honking, crisscrossing chaos. But I kind of like it, in a Evel Kenevel-type of way.

Matt Boulanger said...

I feel you, Dan...

I have to deal with the red-light-running headphones no-hands on the bars crowd here in Missoula, all mixed up with plenty of Rednecks who'd just as soon not see you and your silly little bike between them and that front-row parking spot at the grocery store.

But put my foot down? Not since I learned how to trackstand. Of Course, if where I am going necessitates a hand signal or I feel in any way that my trackstand is confusing the motorist next to me as to my intentions, I stop and put the foot down. I never run red lights, and I don't understand why sanybody thinks that is acceptable.