Monday, May 4, 2009

To Stop or Not to Stop

I don’t know how it is for you, but if I’m cruising along at a high pace, I hate to have to slow down. I’d much rather keep the high pace going, even if it hurts, than to slow down and then try to work my way back up to speed again.

I thought of this on a recent ride because I was keeping a good pace going, then the road curved and the wind changed, and I knew I could kick the pace up even high. Unfortunately, not too far ahead of me was a stop sign.

Should this be a moment of decision or should there be no question about what to do?

(This is like being in class on test day and hearing one student ask another, “Did you study?”)

Of course, with a stop sign coming up, I should stop. What’s more, this particular stop sign was at a blind intersection, so I should definitely stop, and I did, but I didn’t want to.

I can remember riding with a group when our road crossed a major four lane highway. There were cars coming, but they were some distance away, and each rider had to decide for him or herself whether to stop or to dart across. I was not one of the darters.

The prudent members of the group stopped and watched the reckless members dart across the road. (Or the wimps stopped and watched the real riders dart across the road. Take your pick. Because I know which side of the road I was on, I’ll go with prudence.) After the traffic passed, we crossed to the other side. (No jokes about chickens are needed here, thank you very much.)

The riders who had darted across had waited for us, riding in slow circles on the road, and, when we arrived, one of them said, “I’d almost rather get hit than stop.” I think the key word in the sentence must be “almost”.

This made me think of another point where a road we ride crosses the same highway. As the story was told to me, Bobby had just purchased a brand new and very expensive titanium framed road bike and was on his maiden voyage on the new ride. As the group was crossing the road, he hit a patch of gravel and laid the bike down. Cars were coming, and Bobby prudently (there’s that word again) jumped out of the way, leaving his brand new bike lying right there. He danced up and down at the side of the road in fits of agony as car after car whizzed past at fifty five miles per hour (we’ll assume they’re all law abiding citizens) and one after another nearly (but not quite) plowed into his new bike. At the first opportunity he dashed into the road, scooped up his bike and pulled it to safety. He reportedly didn’t ride that particular route again for many many years.

See why you wait?

I also think it was Bobby who nearly gave a dog a heart attack. This came up because of the stealth dog.

The stealth dog lived near a big red house. He would see us coming from quite some distance away and would then hide himself before some bushes right next to the road, his legs braced just like a sprinter before a big race. Then, as we rode by, he would burst out of cover and pursue us, barking his head off. If you forgot that you were in the area of the stealth dog, he could scare the bodily fluid of your choice right out of you. After an attack of the willies induced by the stealth dog had passed one day, Bobby proceeded to tell me about another dog that had chased the group and then turned around and given up. Bobby turned around, leaped off his bike and chased after the dog, barking at the top of his lungs.. With one look of mingled amazement and horror, the dog had tucked its tail between its legs and taken off like a scared jackrabbit.

I realize that has nothing to do with stopping at stop signs, but I never claimed to be organized.

See you on the road.

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