Wednesday, January 19, 2005

Some biking observations

First off. Today Chicago had a reprieve from the cold weather and the temperature actually went about freezing. This was cause for several delightful 'new' experiences including:
  • No Balaclava--yippee I don't feel like a ninja or a bank robber!
  • Fewer layers (I still wore my steel-toed boots & thick wool socks--but it was by choice and not necessity)
  • No worries about my lock freezing up

I don't think I mind the cold of winter so much as all the bundling and layering that I need to do to deal with the cold. After I change into my 'work clothes' my office looks trashed because there are clothes everywhere. I seriously can't wait for the day that I ride bare-legged and sandaled (barefoot is fun, too) again. The layers sort of sneak up and I become accustomed to them. Every year on the first warm day of spring I feel so free and unencumbered without pounds and pounds of clothing on. I am very much looking forward to that day in 2005.

Another thing that I noticed because of the warmth was the smell of the city. I don't think I noticed any smells besides car exhaust (and that is more like a raw taste in the back of the throat than a smell) for quite a while. But today there were lots of smells including a fantastic minty-smelling cigar/cigarette. At first it brought memories of my mom's mint x-mas tree chocolate candies, and then morphed into an image of a den-like place with books and leather. I normally hate the smell of tobacco, but every once in a while the smell triggers this very pleasant image. I don't know if it is memory or imagination. The chocolate factory and the bakery were also pumping out yummy smells for my sniffing pleasure. I'll guess that six months from now I will have far fewer good things to say about Chicago and its smells.

A final observation is that over the last weeks I have dealt with several aggressive, angry, dangerous drivers--even though I think my behavior has remained constant. A theory I have is that now while riding I look androgenous--my hair is covered, I wear bulky, shapeless clothes and the balaclava completely disguises my gender.* Years ago I spoke with my big bro, equipoise about the harrassment that we received while biking. Interestingly, it took different forms. He seemed to experience more dangerous, aggressive drivers who could actually cause him harm, whereas I think I heard more icky comments, but it was more along the 'hey baby' or other sexually laced line of jackassery comments: super-annoying, but basically harmless. So now I wonder if I am experiencing biking as boy when I am all bundled up? Maybe boys should try wearing wigs and looking girly to hear some of the foul, foul shit that women have to deal with.

Acne, cockroaches and impotence to those assholes who yell nastiness to random women.

* Whether or not my hair is revealed causes motorists to treat me very differently. When I used to hitchhike no one ever stopped when my hair was hidden, but once it was down and showing it was quite easy to get a lift. Also, two years ago I was fixing a flat tire on my car with my sweatshirt hood up--no one stopped for about 40 minutes. In the last five minutes of tire-changing, I pulled the hood down because I was too warm, and two cars stopped to offer to help me. One guy even profusely apologized for not being there earlier when I informed him that there wasn't anything left to do. Apparently the damsel in distress is still a viable role. Sad but true.


At 9:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read a story once about a female cyclist who saw in her rearview mirror that a pickup truck driver (it's always a pickup truck driver) had his arm out the window, presumably, to slap her on the ass as he drove by. At the last second as he was about to do the slap, she mashed her brakes and broke the guy's arm at the elbow. I'm not sure I totally believe that one, but it reinforces your point about the harrassment cycling ladies receive.

At 5:29 PM, Blogger jojo said...

I've heard that other women get their asses slapped by men in cars. Completely unacceptable. First of all, the impact could totally knock her off balance and cause a crash--or just being startled could do the same. Second, this is sexual assault.

I think either my steel-toed boots or super-heavy U-lock would end up making contact with the vehicle. I have absolutely no tolerance for this type of behavior.


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