The local cycling scene is abuzz with the news that the Alexandria cops are giving cyclists tickets for running stop signs and wearing ipods and stuff. I’m pretty much a law and order candidate myself so I’m going to come out in favor of what they’re doing. I will have to be aware, though, as we have acquired a beach cruiser for the site in order to make short trips around town. There’s too much traffic and parking sucks too much to deal with a car, so whenever someone needs to run an errand we just whip out the cruiser and have at it. Accelerating the thing from a dead stop is a chore, though, so I have been known to make a Hollywood stop or two on my way through town.
We need some sort of law and order initiative on the bike paths. Sunday morning, I took the Georgetown Branch from River Road to the boathouse. I was late for the team ride (that I’d scheduled), so I took the short cut on the path. My speed was probably a bit higher than optimal for the trail, but I’d like to think that my bike control renders that a moo point (cow’s opinion – who cares?). Anyhow, people’s behavior on this thing is ridiculous. First you have the four women “power walking” 4 abreast (mmm, breast – except these breasts, not so much). Doing the whole arm swinging “girl power” bit. You know, I think it’s wonderful that you’re out there instead of stuffing your head with blintzes of a Sunday morn, but don’t look at me like I’m being an ass when I maintain my six inches of pavement, making you think I’m going to hit you head on. “We are woman, hear us roar.” Look, I’m sorry you caught your ex-husband banging his secretary and now you’re out in the market looking for a little cougar bait, but if 3 cyclists wearing team kit took up as much of the path as you do, they’d be hunted down and shot at dawn. The knife cuts both ways. Can you please get the hell back into your own lane? Then you have parents teaching their straight line challenged little kids to ride their tricycles on the path. Freaking brilliant. Did you teach them to walk in the mall on Saturday afternoon? Future Darwin Award winners of America, stand up and be counted!! The runners running in the oncoming lane? WTF? You’re a good man, Charlie Brown, just be a good man in the freaking right lane, m’kay?
I saved some love for my fellow two wheelers – most cyclists on the trail act like asses. What is the attraction of trying to dodge between two people running in opposite directions? I can’t wait to see two of these geniuses pull the same move at the same time from converging directions and, as it were, kill two birds with one stone. Has no one ever heard of the brakes? They’re these great things, you see, you squeeze them, the bike slows down, and then you start going again! Will they never stop thinking up new and ingenious devices?
Sometimes the wisdom extends onto the roads as well. Saturday afternoon I was doing some Ridge/Ross/Beach loops before going on a bigger loop. On one of the runs up Ridge, there’s a guy in front of me struggling pretty hard. He’s way overgeared at about 35 or 40 rpm, pedaling perfect squares, despite having a whole new shiny chainring inside the one he’s on - pride’s a bitch, huh? Anyway, he’s staying pretty much out in the middle of the road, by the yellow line, occasionally and randomly dodging to the right. As I’m catching him, I’m trying to calculate his swerves. Are they truly random or is there a patter? Geometric or arithmetic progression? I got to him before figuring it out, and there being a blind turn directly ahead of us, passed through the 7 or 8 feet between him and the right curb with a “hey, coming up on the right.” Of course, this makes him swerve nearly straight into me. Ay ay ay. Then he starts yelling – “that’s a pretty stupid thing to do, man!” Whatever, he gets the “buddy wave” and I’m outta there.
You see, all of us spandex jockeys are real easy to throw sticks at – we’re visible, we generally go pretty fast and we act like we know what we’re doing. Which is of course because much of the time WE DO. Lesson learned, leave the house earlier and stick to the busy city roads, where it’s safe.