Wednesday, September 30, 2009
Not, by the way, fly ball as in a ball hit up into the air to be fielded but flyball as in a sport for dogs – kind of like doggie drag racing (without the cars, of course – that would just be silly.) If you have six minutes and 24 seconds to spare, this video does a good job of explaining it:
(Actually, even if you don't have six minutes and 24 seconds to spare, this video still does a good job of explaining it:)
I had the chance to watch flyball live recently, and it was a blast. There were several events going on at the fairgrounds, and the flyball tournament was waaaaaaaay away from everything else. I don’t know if that was for the benefit of everyone else there or for the benefit of the dogs.
We walked in, and it was loud. Imagine fifty dogs all happily barking away. There were also whistles from referees and people talking and other people shouting encouragement, all in a building with a concrete floor and walls and a ceiling that might have been designed to magnify noise.
But I forgot all about the noise as I watched the dogs. That was a treat.
I had wondered if it would be boring, watching race after race, but they were all different, thanks to the dogs, each with his or her own personality.
There was the large Jack Russell Terrier who didn’t want to play. He ran last on his team…well, he was supposed to run last on his team, but he simply wasn’t interested. In his first heat he jumped over two hurdles and then wandered off. In his second heat he jumped over four hurdles and then wandered off. They didn’t let him compete in the third heat.
There was a sheltie named Rachel. She got the ball but, as she started back, she dropped it right before jumping over the first hurdle, and then she froze. She simply stood there like a statue. You could almost hear her mind working. “Let’s see…I was supposed to get the ball and run back over the hurdles. I got the ball, but now I don’t have the ball. Where’s the ball? And what am I supposed to do now that I don’t have the ball? If I had the ball I would run back over the hurdles, but without the ball…hm…”
She did finally hear a voice behind her telling her to get the ball. She turned around, saw it, picked up and finished her run.
Rachel’s team lost that heat.
Most of the members on every team were excited. When a team's start dog came in and got ready to go, the other dogs on the team would look at him and then start barking at him, for all the world as if they were encouraging him. Go, dog, go. (I think there might be a children's book in there somewhere.)
It's a pretty high speed sport. Most of the runs took about twenty seconds or a little more, although one team was always under eighteen and usually under seventeen.
There were yorkies, shelties, poodles, boston terriers, German shepherds, labs, feists, salukis, and, of course, Australian shepherds and border collies galore, and every single one of them was friendly and happy. You’d see them between matches, and they were always ready to be petted or to lick someone. They were clearly having a great time.
I have to admit that I most enjoyed the border collies. They were ready to go, and they have a fluidty when they are in motion that is a joy to see. One team had both a border collie, who was a paragon of intense focus, and a springer spaniel who looked about as happy go lucky as a dog could look, leaping over the jumps with his ears flying foolishly about his head and a big grin on his face. They both seemed to have a good time, though perhaps in slightly different ways, and I couldn't help but imagine the conversation they might have had.
Collie: You need to be more focused.
Collie: I said, You need to be more focused.
Spaniel: Okey-dokey. Do you think that guy over there will pet me?
Collie: Focus. You're here to get the ball.
Spaniel: Flyball. Yep. Yep. Yep. What's a ball?
I want to play flyball.
Well, I want to have a dog to play flyball. I'd look rather ridiculous doing it myself.
Of course, I'm used to looking ridiculous. You should see me on the bike, after all.
See you on the road.
Tuesday, September 29, 2009
When I got kitted out I pulled on my replica of Paolo Bettini’s Italian National Champion jersey, presumably in the hope that someone would actually mistake me for Paolo Bettini. There are several reasons why this did not happen.
1. The odds are pretty good that no one I passed on the road today knows who Paolo Bettini is.
2. Unless someone is Italian, they probably wouldn’t recognize the Italian National Champion's cycling jersey.
(Oddly enough, shortly after leaving home I passed a guy who apparently was Italian. I base this not only on his appearance but on the fact that he was having a cell phone conversation in Italian. He didn’t give me a second glance.)
3. No one in their right mind would mistake me for a champion cyclist.
(The only person verifiably not in their right mind on the road today was me. After all, if I were in my right mind, would I have gone for a bike ride in a twenty mile per hour wind just for fun? I don’t think so.)
The wind was fierce today. Within a couple of miles after leaving home and right after turning into a screaming headwind I came across a mail car. I will confess that, for an instant, the thought of trying to draft crossed my mind, but drafting off of a strange car is, to the least, unwise. Don’t believe me? Read “Heft on Wheels” by Mike Magnusson. You’ll find out. (Actually, drafting off a car supposedly driven by someone who knows what they’re doing can also be dangerous. Just ask Jan Ullrich.
I wandered down some roads that I had never been on before, including one called Forehand Road. I don’t know if that’s someone’s last name or they just really liked tennis. I later wandered into someplace called Pleasant Grove, and I remember thinking that Pleasant Grove isn’t really all that pleasant, what with that wind blowing in my face and all.
Most of the cars were nice, until one of the guys from Deliverance passed me. He was wearing sunglasses and a baseball cap done in camo colors. He had a toothpick hanging from his mouth and was driving a bright red pickup truck with a lot of ground clearance, and he laid on his horn and glared at me as he passed me. I have no idea why he did this, because we were on opposite sides of the road going in opposite directions, so I certainly wasn’t in his way at all. Apparently the fact that I was using his road vexed him rather more than a bit. Y'all.
I remember at one point thinks, “This is fun?” as I pushed my way into the wind as hard as I could go. Well, some parts of the ride were definitely fun, but even the hard parts were at least satisfying. I don’t know how to explain that. I guess you either get it or you don’t.
Steve says: You go out for a ride on a really cold winter morning – your face is numb and everything’s freezing, and you get passed by a guy driving a big car. He’s got his heater going and has a coat on and a cup of coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other, and he looks at you like you’re the crazy one, and you know that you know something he never will and that you’re alive.
Steve gets it.
I have to stay late tonight, because I have a meeting that doesn’t even start until 5:30, but while I’m sitting there, I’ll be able to think back on today’s hard, windy ride and that’ll get me through the meeting.
Life is good when you ride a bike.
See you on the road.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Of course, I had that pump for six years, and it certainly pumped up a lot of tires, so I shouldn’t complain.
I shouldn’t complain, but I still do, because, in expiring, the pump left my rear tire completely deflated.
A few days later I managed to get a new pump from a large chain department store that is famous primarily for being a large chain department store. They only had one pump that could be of any use to me – it had an air gauge and an adapter that would make it work on a presta valve, so I got it.
Here is how it works: first, you take the adapter and you screw it into the hole where the valve goes, making sure it’s a nice tight fit. Then you fit the nozzle over the valve on your tire and lock it into place. Then you start pumping, at which point that nozzle flies off of the tire leaving the adapter attached to your valve.
Repeat until you are certain that the pump is going to do this every time and your tire is completely defalted.
After you’ve repeated this enough times to realize that this is, in fact, all that this particular pump does, you take it back to large chain department store and get your money back.
This is very useful as an exercise in frustration, but when it comes to going for a ride, it isn’t much help.
After this experience, I waited until I could go to the bike shop and get a good pump.
Me on Friday as I watch sheets of rain falling outside the window: “If I get a pump today, I’m going for a ride tomorrow morning whether it rains or not!”
Me on Saturday morning: “Aw, man, it’s supposed to rain this morning!”
I am nothing if not inconsistent.
But, sitting up before sunrise, I decided to go for a ride anyway. I just made sure my cell phone was in a plastic bag and hit the road.
It was so windy I kept my eyes peeled for Dorothy. I didn’t see her or her little dog, too, flying past, but I did see a couple of friends go by in the opposite direction. (Just to make things clear, they were riding bikes, not being blown by the wind). I thought for a moment about turning around and joining them, but I already had a route mapped out in my head and decided to stick with it.
Since I set out just after sunrise (which isn’t as early as it sounds this time of year) I didn’t see many people on the road other than joggers and cyclists. It was peaceful. Or, it would have been peaceful if I hadn’t decided to go as hard as I could go for the whole ride.
There were some odd little moments. There usually are.
I passed through some cigarette smoke when there were no cars on the road and no people visible at all. I still don’t know where it came from.
I passed a field full of dead corn, the stalks withered and brown with white ears hanging from them. I’m sure there was a good reason for letting it die in the field, but I don’t know what it was.
I had a moment when I recalled what Jörg said about the difference between riding with the guys and riding with the ladies. The ladies notice all the scenery and the guys don’t. I don’t know what made me think of that, as I wasn’t noticing the scenery at the time.
The wind was pretty much a misery, but there isn’t much you can do about that except for keep pushing your way into it and suffer, and I did both of those things, but it was great to be on the bike even so.
As I neared home, I passed the same two riders I had passed on my way out (Hey, Scott!) and then the wind kicked up and I was not aware of much aside from the pain of trying to keep my pace up despite the wind. Who would have guessed that a few air molecules could have so much effect. I mean, they’re so light, right?
As I got back into my subdivision, I passed an elderly lady riding a bike with a basket on the front and what appeared to be a blanket in the basket. I have no idea where she was headed or what the blanket was for.
I made it back home to find that everyone was still asleep and my legs were toast.
It was a great ride, though. Here's hoping I get the next one soon.
See you on the road.
Friday, September 25, 2009
“Cancellara’s still from earth, but he was the best today. I tried what I could, I really happy with my performance.”
I like this quote, and it made me think of some of my other favorite quotes relating to bicycles:
"I thought of that while riding my bike." — Albert Einstein, on the theory of relativity
As a cyclist and confirmed science nerd, I like that one a lot.
" I've read that I flew up the hills and mountains of France. But you don't fly up a hill. You struggle slowly and painfully up a hill, and maybe, if you work very hard, you get to the top ahead of everybody else." — Lance Armstrong
It’s kind of nice to know that it isn’t effortless for anyone. I can remember those days struggling along, gasping for air, sweating and being happy to hear the guy next me start gasping too. It made me feel like I wasn’t doing so hopelessly badly after all.
"I still feel that variable gears are only for people over forty—five. Isn't it better to triumph by the strength of your muscles than by the artifice of a derailleur? We are getting soft... As for me, give me a fixed gear!" — Henri Desgrange
Said the man who came up with the Tour de France. Ouch.
If you brake, you don't win." Mario Cipollini
Ride lots." — Eddy Merckx
Good advice from two of the greatest ever.
Get a bicycle. You will certainly not regret it, if you live. -Mark Twain
That one just makes me laugh.
Here are quotes from two people I don’t know (of course, they don’t know me, either) who’ve really got something.
The best rides are the ones where you bite off much more than you can chew--and live through it. -Doug Bradbury
Predawn ride, I pass my neighbor on a run. "Why are you riding a bike?" he asks. "Running gets you in shape faster." It's not about that. It's about how riding makes me feel. The speed. Leaning into gentle curves. Charging up hills. How strong my legs feel. Riding gets me fit. But thats just luck. I don't ride to get fit.-R. Todd Barker
Every time I see an adult on a bicycle I no longer despair for the future of the human race.-H.G. Wells
Never use your face as a brake pad.-Jake Watson
"Finishing a ride is mandatory. Finishing a ride fast is optional."- Anonymous
Been there. Done that. That was me at the end of the club’s double century ride. I didn’t finish pretty or strong, but I did finish.
And let’s not forget everybody’s friend, the wind. "
Wind is just a hill in gaseous form."-- Barry McCarty
"You never have the wind with you. It is either against you or you are having a good day."-- Daniel Behrman, The Man Who Loved Bicycles
"Friends Don't Let Friends Drive"
I don’t recall where I got this one, but I have to admit that I like it. I wish I had a T-shirt with that quote and a picture of a bicycle on it.
“Cycling has encountered more enemies than any other form of exercise.”-- 19th-century author Louis Baudry de Saunier
So it’s not just a modern phenomenon!
Well, my Lovely Lovely gets off work early today, and I believe that she’s going to swing by the bike shop and pick up a pump for me. I had a chance to go a nonbike shop and buy a pump that turned out to be a useless piece of junk, so I returned it, crestfallen, to wait out my long period of no air in the tire, but soon I’ll be on two wheels again, and then I’ll be a better person.
See you on the road.
Thursday, September 24, 2009
Naked Woman Carjacks Van After Hitting Bicyclist, Say Florida Police
Bicyclist Not Seriously Hurt
Well, at least they thought enough of the cyclst to put that at the top of the story.
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Police arrested a woman in Jacksonville, Fla. they said deliberately hit a bike rider and crashed two separate cars, and then ran off naked.
We have seen a few examples lately of first sentences of stories meant to grab the reader. This is a strange one. It pays to know your audience, I guess.
Police said the incident occurred Sunday evening while Holly Highfield, 34, was driving three children, ages 10 to 14.
And let us remember that all persons are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. Yeah. One wonders if they were her own children or if she was babysitting someone else’s.
Just after 8 p.m., officers were called to a report of an accident involving a pedestrian and a naked woman in east Jacksonville.
I bet they don’t have one of those numerical codes for that particular type of incident.
The children in Highfield's car told police that she was driving north when she turned to them and said: "Do you think this biker is going to get hit? Do you have faith? Are you afraid?" They said she then steered her SUV across the road and struck 55-year-old Cathy Giury riding a bicycle.
When a couple in a van stopped to see if the bicyclist needed help, Highfield allegedly got out of her vehicle, jumped into the van yelling that she was going to jail, ordering the man behind the wheel to drive her away.
Did she want the guy to driver her to jail or was she trying to get away?
Police were told than when the driver refused, she got out, took off her clothes and began running around.
Well, she was stressed and didn't have any worry beads with her.
According to the police report, when the bystander got out to help the bicyclist, Highfield yelled at the passenger in the van to get out, then attempted to drive off, rammed her own vehicle and struck a fence.
You have to admit that she’s an equal opportunity collider.
When police arrived, Highfield was placed in the back of the patrol car. Officers said she became increasingly violent. When a female officer attempted to cover Highfield with a sheet, she was kicked.
The arrest report indicates Highfield "appeared to be under the influence of some type of drug."
It said she also urinated in the back of the patrol car.
I should have something to say about that, I suppose, but I think some incidents just speak for themselves.
Highfield was arrested and charged with battery, carjacking, DUI while accompanied by a minor and DUI while causing damage to property. She was transported to Shands-Jacksonville Medical Center for observation.
The bicyclist was transported to Beaches Baptist Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries, where she remained in stable condition.
I'm glad to hear that the cyclist is okay, and, since they aren't mentioned again, one assumes that the kids are okay.
Well, I guess you can see why I had to share this one. It was too peculiar to pass up, even though bicycles weren't exactly the main focus.
See you on the road.
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
2 Seattle bicyclists shot with darts in Ballard neighborhood
By Jennifer Sullivan Seattle Times staff reporter
Avram Dolen was riding his bike across the Ballard Bridge when he felt a strange sensation in his left buttock.
Now, how can you not read more of an article that starts with a sentence like that one?
He looked down and was startled to see a 4-inch steel dart sticking out of his rear end.
I bet he was startled. Who wouldn’t be?
Dolen, 29, and a 39-year-old woman told officers that they were cycling on or near the bridge Monday evening when they each were shot with a dart in separate incidents. Neither cyclist saw who shot them.
"I heard a little pop sound, which was followed by a stinging sensation afterward," said Dolen, of Ballard. "My first thought was I got hit by a rock but then it kept stinging. I went down to feel what it was and there was a 4-inch dart sticking out of my left buttock."
4 inches. This man is very precise.
The female bicyclist, whose name was not released, was shot in her right thigh while cycling in the 5000 block of Eighth Avenue Northwest, according to a police report.
Police spokesman Mark Jamieson said that it appears both bicyclists were shot with a blowgun. He said there have been no reports of additional attacks.
Blowguns are tubular weapons, which are used to fire darts or other projectiles propelled by breath.
And there you have it. You even get a definition of what a blowgun is. Now, I don’t quite remember this sort of thing happening in any of the Tarzan movies, but maybe that’s just because there are no bike paths in the jungle, I don’t know.
But, in the interests of fair play, let it shown that it isn’t just that things happen to people on bikes. Sometimes people on bikes make their own difficulties.
Cyclist arrested for giving alligator a shoulder ride
Thu, 13 Aug 2009 1:14p.m.
The meter-long alligator on a bicyclist's shoulders was a real attention-getter.
Not as good a first sentence as in the previous story, but still good, and, you have to admit, accurate. That would certainly get my attention.
St Charles Parish, Louisiana sheriff's deputies stopped the cyclist. He allegedly ran, leaving both wheels and his toothy little rider. Capt Pat Yoes, a spokesman for the sheriff's office, said deputies booked 38-year-old Terron D Ingram on Friday with resisting arrest, possessing drug paraphernalia, and cruelty to animals by abandonment.
You mean drugs may have been involved in the man’s decision to wear an alligator and go for a bike ride? !!
Alligator Control Officer Kenny Schmill said he released the gator into the marsh near Bayou Gauche. Ingram remained jailed in lieu of US$15,000 bond Wednesday, five days after his arrest. Yoes said he didn't know where Ingram got the gator or what he had planned to do with it.
And do we really want to know what he planned to do with it?
But surely, I hear you ask, this is not the only alligator involved cyclist incident…
GATOR LUNGES FOR YOUTH AFTER BICYCLE COLLISION
Merritt Island – Phillip Barrett, 15, was riding his 10-speed bike on a dirt road when a five foot alligator darted from the shrubs toward a pond. Barrett’s bike had no brakes, and he collided with the gator and flipped over, the young boy said. Barrett said he landed on bike and then slipped and fell again when he tried to get up and run.
See why you need brakes on your bike? Everyone out there who is riding a fixed-gear bike on the road, beware of alligators.
He said the alligator was on the other side of the bike “making a hissing kind of sound with his mouth open.”
When he got up the second time, Barrett said, he turned around to find the alligator “heading right for me. He lunged for me and almost got my foot. I didn’t stop running until I was well out of range.”
“If I had slipped again I wouldn’t be around to tell about it,” he said. “He was coming after me, but I don’t know why."
Hmm. Let's see if we can figure it out.
"Maybe he didn’t like me running over him.”
And....there you go.
Those bicycles can be a menace to wildlife, and have been for a long time:
SNAKE UPSET WOMAN CYCLIST – Massapequa, Long Island – July 28, 1899.
Yes, that did say 1899. In the interests of finding ludicrous stuff, I have delved deep into the archives here.
So, the snake upset the cyclist. Does this mean that he knocked her down or that he ruffled her emotionally? As it turns out, both.
Mrs. George Lathrop of Brooklyn was coasting down a hill here yesterday when a snake darted out of the weeds and attempted to cross the road. Mrs. Lathrop was unable to stop and ran into the snake. The reptile became tangled up in the spokes of the wheel and Mrs. Lathrop was thrown off. She fainted but was unhurt and beyond the bending of a few spokes in the wheel her bicycle was uninjured.
I bet the snake was pretty darned upset, too. I can't get the image of the snake becoming tangled up in the spokes out of my head. I think I saw something like that in a cartoon once.
I guess I'll just have to keep a sharp eye out for wildlife on my next ride. That and people with tubular weapons, which are used to fire darts or other projectiles propelled by breath.
It's a weird world out there.
See you on the road.
Tuesday, September 22, 2009
Colo., Sept. 10 (UPI) -- A freak bolt of lightning struck a 56-year-old cyclist in Englewood, Colo., even though no electrical storms were reported in the area, authorities say.
Perry Schellpfeffer, an Englewood police spokesman, told The Denver Post the unidentified victim was hit by the lightning Wednesday afternoon. His injuries were not considered life-threatening. "There were some clouds and it was thundering a little, but there wasn't any kind of lightning storm," Schellpfeffer said.
Wow. You’re riding along minding your own business and lightning hits you. Of course, it wasn’t out of a clear blue sky. After all, if it’s thundering, even a little, there must be some lightning somewhere, but I still wouldn’t have been expecting it.
Now, seeing something like this, I wondered what other kinds of things have happened to poor souls on bikes.
Dateline: JACKSON, Wyo. - A mountain biker on Togwotee Pass fought off a grizzly bear that repeatedly charged him until a companion drove the animal off with pepper spray. Kirk Speckhals escaped his encounter without a scratch; he had only four dirt marks from the bear's claws on his forearm, a punctured bicycle tire and a bent rim. He said he hopes others learn from the mistakes he made during his ride around Pinnacle Buttes including not making enough noise to warn bears, not riding together and not carrying pepper spray.
Not making enough noise to warn bears…not a safety precaution I normally take, I have to admit. Another store about a bear attacking a cyclist included this line:
The girl was lucky she was wearing a bike helmet because the bear had bitten her head.
Now, I am not making fun of someone who got attacked by a bear, but I have to admit that I found the last sentence kind of odd. I am all in favor of bike helmets, but I never considered them useful in case of bear attacks. Perhaps that should be part of a campaign to get people to wear them.
It turns out that the whole bear-cyclist thing (and who would have imagined that there was a bear-cyclist thing?) goes both ways.
Bear vs. Bike: Cyclist Hits 300-Pound Black Bear
57-year-old Jim Litz, a science teacher in Missoula, Montana, t-boned a black bear while riding his bike to work.
He was traveling about 25 mph when he came upon a rise and spotted a black bear about 10 feet in front of him. “I didn't have time to respond. I never even hit my brakes,” Litz said.
He tumbled over his handlebars, planting his helmeted head on the bruin's back, and man and beast went cartwheeling down the road. The bear rolled over Litz's head, and its mass cracked his helmet. As the duo toppled over one another, the bear clawed at Litz's cycling jacket, scratching his flesh from shoulder to buttocks before scampering up a hill above the road, where it stopped and whined.
I would have stopped and whined, too, if I was minding my own business and got hit by a guy going 25 mph. Clearly that guy wasn't making enough noise to warn bears, either.
Well, after finding all of this, I decided to be utterly silly and typed “Cyclist hit by fruit” into a search engine, certain that nothing could possibly come up. Shows how much I know.
A cyclist is in hospital with eye injuries after he was hit in the face by a tangerine thrown from a passing car in Oxford.
Pc Chris Reilly, based at Cowley police station, said: “This may not seem too serious an incident, but the piece of fruit was travelling at high speed and it has left the cyclist in a lot of pain.
Okay, I’ve been hit by a bottle thrown at me by someone in a car, so I know how something like that feels, but the phrase “the piece of fruit was travelling at high speed” just sounds funny.
What else? How about:
Kangaroo breaks cyclist's arm
A RAMPAGING roo has knocked a beach-bound cyclist off his bike and left him with a broken arm.
Yes, indeed, I couldn't make this stuff up.
Well, it’s a crazy world out there, gang. We have to worry about cars and lightning and fruit and bears (although the bears also apparently have to worry about us) and kangaroos and who knows what else.
Well, I’m still going for a ride.
If you have any stories or comes across anything else this odd, feel free to share.
See you on the road.
Monday, September 21, 2009
Well, in this world, I guess an angry blogger is about par for the course. There are a lot of blogs out there which are impelled by anger.
This isn’t one of them.
Until today. Now I am, if not angry, at least miffed and possibly even vexed.
I have managed to do something today that I haven’t managed to do in a very long time – scrape out enough time for a really good afternoon ride. So picture me if you will getting kitted out (actually, don’t picture that, just take it for granted), filling up my bottles, grabbing my RoadId and my phone and taking a couple of salt tablets because it’s warm out there.
I had a sort of presentiment of disaster, so I double checked my bag to make sure I had a spare tube and any other little necessaries and then pumped up my tires.
Actually, what I ended up doing was letting all of the air out of my rear tire. My pump was not so much something that inflates as something that sucks.
Now, you have to picture me in my kit, helmet, gloves, everything, waddling around the garage looking for another pump. There isn’t one. Then I think that maybe I’ve ridden so little that I’ve forgotten how to use the pump.
How the heck can you forget how to use a pump? It isn’t that difficult, Looney.
Well, I gave the pump a try on a different tire. I let all the air out of that one, too.
What can I say? It’s a gift?
I experimented with the pump. I could feel air blowing out of it. I tried it on another tire. I did not let the air out of that tire. Of course, I didn’t put any air into it, either. Well, that’s an accomplishment of some sort, I suppose. I’ll have to take what I can get today.
I can tell you what I’m not going to get today – A RIDE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
And I can tell you what I am going to get today – a new pump.
Once I get it home, I’m sure I’ll discover that the old pump was fine, I’m just doing something wrong.
Am I bummed out? Yes. Yes, I am. Thanks for asking.
Well, see you on the road.
I might not have any air in my tires, though, so watch out for me.
Tuesday, September 15, 2009
That definition is not sufficient. I know it’s not sufficient because I’ve seen quite a few people riding bicycles the last couple of days, and none of them were cyclists. I don’t say this in a superior fashion. I’m not saying that a cyclist is better than a guy who rides a bike, I’m saying a cyclist is different from a guy who rides a bike.
Perhaps this does not make sense to you. Well, you should be used to what I write not making sense by now. Isn't that how this work?
Yesterday I was driving the 2000 pound beast down the road and saw a guy riding a bicycle. All I can figure from watching him is that he was trying to commit suicide, but you can judge for yourself.
Imagine an intersection where two busy roads meet. Now imagine that a lot of cars are turning right from one road onto the other. Now imagine that a guy on a bike who is in the midst of all of these cars is also making that turn but is doing so by taking an irregular and serpentine path so you can’t actually tell where he’ll be from one second to the next.
Is this a cyclist?
Or how about the two guys who were riding along the shoulder of a busy two lane road wearing dark clothing near dusk? (Yes, that’s a sentence fragment. My high school English teacher would not be happy.) In true ninja fashion, these two guys had taken all of the reflectors off of their bikes and had no lights. Or helmets. Deciding to change sides of the road (and apparently believing themselves invulnerable) they suddenly swerved into traffic and shot across two lanes of impending doom. Fortunately for everyone concerned, these two guys were endowed with more than their fair share of luck.
Are these cyclists?
And let us not forget the guy who cut through a parking lot allowing hiM to squirt out into the road (apparently without looking) directly in the path of several rapidly moving vehicles that had to swerve to avoid making him the object of a physics experiment.
Is this a cyclist?
How the guy I saw on my way back to work after lunch? He was riding along the side of a busy two lane road. He was wearing brightly colored clothing and a helmet and was riding hard in a straight line and in a very predictable manner.
Is this a cyclist?
Well, that guy, yeah. He's was a cyclist.
I don’t disparage anyone for simply riding a bike. If you don’t want to buy a pair of shorts that shows off your every asset or a jersey that looks like it was painted by Salvador Dali with a hangover, then don’t. If you don’t way to drink Endurox or chew on Cliff Bars or suck down Carboom, then don’t. You don’t have to wear a heart rate monitor or have a computer on your bike or buy fancy shows that work great when you’re pedaling but which make you walk like a duck on ice skates when you're off the bike. You can just get a bike and ride, and that's great. (I know, it isn't as if you needed my permission anyway. I'm just trying to make the point that, just because you don't shave your legs and talk about gear ratios doesn't make you a bad person. You can just get out there and ride, and more power to you.)
Well, buy a helmet. That would be good. And wear it, of course.
But don’t ride like you have a death wish. You know why? Well, aside from the obvious fact that, if you ride like that, someone may grant your wish…don't do it because most people who drive cars don’t make a distinction between people on bikes and cyclists, and a driver who sees one person riding a bike poorly will assume that all people who ride are just the same.
And, yes, I do know that you can have all the fancy gear and still ride like you don't know what you're doing.
Don’t be that guy who makes it harder for the rest of us.
See you on the road.
Monday, September 14, 2009
You see, the thing about new year’s resolutions...bear with me here, I know it’s not new year’s…unless of course you’re reading this long after I wrote it…which you might be, I suppose…let me start again.
You see, the thing about resolutions is that 83.12% of them don’t get kept.1 (I can hear someone now: What? Footnotes in a blog? Really? I don’t do footnotes.2) So that will be last foot note in this blog.3
This is precisely what happened to my recent resolution to ride more. It didn’t get kept. Well, not until today. I got up bright and early…well, early anyway. It was a little chilly out, so I put on my snazzy new Seyboro Cyclist vest.
It’s not new.
I put on my snazzy-
It’s not new. You’ve have that vest since the summer.
Okay, so technically it’s not new, but this is the first time I’ve worn it on a ride, so it’s kind of like new. I hadn’t been on the road more than a minute when I decided that the vest had been a good idea.
It was a little windy. The windy season here is from January to December, so of course it was a little windy.
There were a lot of dogs out this morning, but since they were all behind fences, I was not trouble. That said some things to me as I passed that sounded rather rude, but I’ll let that go.
I also encountered some road kill. First was a raccoon. Then I spotted a container of McDonald’s french fries. While the raccoon (not that I subjected it to a close inspection you understand) appeared to be intact, the french fries had clearly met with a car. I also spotted a grapefruit. The grapefruit actually didn’t look so much like road kill as it did someone waiting for a bus. It was just sitting at the side of the road minding it’s own business. I had an image of a truck full of grapefruit pulling by and this one hopping on board.
It was a strange morning.
I passed a small cemetery which was being mowed. There was a gray truck sitting there with an empty trailer behind it. A man on a riding mower was circling the graves.
Now, I know that somebody has to mow graveyard’s but it still struck me as a little creepy. I wondered if odd things ever happened to him. Ten seconds after I passed the graveyard, what appeared to be the same truck with riding mower now on the back of the trailer, sped past me.
Not that it’s possible, of course. I’m just telling you what I saw.
I passed a group of people setting up a yard sale. Well, it was more of a portable flea market in a parking lot. One woman was leaning up against her SUV watching everyone else work. The she saw me. Her head slowly turned to follow me as I rode past, as if she had never seen anything like me before and was trying to figure out what I was. I have seen exactly the same look on the face of a curious cow.
This is not intended as an insult to the woman who may, for all I know, be quite personable. She just had that same look on her face.
Everyone was still asleep when I left, and everyone was still asleep when I got back home. I think it’s going to be a quiet morning.
See you on the road.
- The accuracy of this statistic may be somewhat doubtful in view of the fact that I simply made it up.
- Neither do I.
- Except for this one.
- This is the Will Cuppy Memorial Footnote. If you’ve never read Will Cuppy’s work, then you don’t know what you’ve been missing. Of course, if you don’t know what you’ve been missing, it probably doesn’t trouble you much. Oh, what the heck, look him up anyway. You’ll thank me later.
Friday, September 4, 2009
As I stood in the garage pumping up the tires, I heard the ululating threnody of the wind and I thought to myself, “It’s windy.” I can pick up on subtle clues, you see.
Since I had such a small amount of time, I decided I would simply go as hard as I could go for the entire ride, and I had a great time. I was quick out of the blocks and set up a hard pace right from the beginning, even up the two hills I have to climb before I get out onto the main road.
About a mile in, a very large man watched me sedately as I passed him. He had a look of puzzlement on his face, but it wasn’t the full blown freakshow look – the one made by the person who says “What the…” as their head slowly turns to track you as you ride by. I got that look later.
It was definitely windy, but I was pushing hard all the time. I hit a moderately steep hill and stood up to go harder. It was at that point that I got the real freakshow look from a guy who was loading a truck. Getting that look again made me feel right at home on the bike.
People are looking at me like I’m weird! I must still be a cyclist! Yaaaaaaaaah!
The route I took had a lot of turns in it, so the wind was constantly changing, but, somehow, it also seemed to be pushing against me. Funny how that works. As I neared my turn around point, I saw what appeared to be a father with his young child, both of them on bikes. The father was teaching the child some important points about riding a bike: don’t wear a helmet, ride against traffic instead of with traffic and, when a car approaches you, make a big swerve to the other side of the road to get out of the way and then swerve back to where you were after the car goes by.
I did not offer any advice as I swept past them. After all, they don’t know that I’m a blogger with hundreds of…scores…dozens...some readers. I did not feel that my advice would be welcomed.
I hit my turnaround point and came back, but they were gone by the time I got back to where I had seen them.
I heard a dog barking at me, but, when I looked, all I could see was a big corn field. Hm. Dogs of the Corn. No. I don’t think there’s a market for that kind of movie these days.
I’ll be honest with you – by the time I got back to within three miles of home, my legs were tired. I was having so much fun, though, that I didn’t listen to any complaints my legs might have had (and, believe me, they had some) and kept the pace up as high as I could. Go as hard as I can go. That’s the goal today.
I stopped at a stoplight and I could feel my heart beating in my face. Well, I was almost home.
I turned for the last mile right into the teeth of the wind. Push hard. Push hard. Okay, so my pace is dropping. All I want to do now is to keep it up above ninetee…um…eighteen…seven….sixteen. Yeah. Let’s keep it up above fifteen in spite of the headwind. No, that’s too silly. Push harder.
I had a giant rubber band attached to my back. As I rode, it stretched tighter and tighter and tighter and then, all of a sudden, it was at full length and contracted and I went backwards. That was what it felt like. All of sudden, I popped, and my speed plummeted. It was kind of depressing, really, but I did have the satisfaction of knowing that I had gone as hard as I could go for nearly the whole time.
After a moment of rest, I picked the pace back up some and cruised home, tired and happy.
I turned into my subdivision and a child on a bike turned onto the road ahead of me. She looked back and saw me and then proceeded to turn in wide circles, taking up the entire road. I managed to get past her without incident and then came upon a car taking up nearly the entire road. The driver had stopped to check her mail and, instead of pulling into her driveway, had simply stopped across the road.
Well, if you’re going to have problems, I suppose it’s better to have them there than out on the road where people are going 45 or 55 mph, right?
I got back home tired and happy and hungry for me, and today’s another day.
See you on the road.
Thursday, September 3, 2009
I wonder what you're supposed to do with that thing. I have this vague memory...
Do you sit on it or something?
You know, between life and work and the ever shortening days, the bicycle has been gathering cobwebs in the garage.
No more, I say!
Of course, I can say it all I want. Now I have to do it. Well, today is Thursday, and I am going to go for a ride this afternoon. I don't know how I'm going to work it, but I am going to work it. You just wait and see.
Actually, do wait and see. If I don't post anything on Friday, you'll know I was wrong.
See you on the road.