Monday, February 14, 2005

Random Biking Babbling

Frozen Snot Century: I am totally unprepared for this and haven't put in any serious miles. Oops. I also learned that most of the people who do this ride are messengers and treat it like a race instead of a group ride. Sorry--not for me. However, I learned that Becky plans to go and she hasn't done any long rides recently either. She has no inclination to race to Milwaukee and would rather ride along with others instead of it being a solitary ride of many people. We were both excited to learn that the other was doing this ride and decided to ride together at whatever pace feels comfortable, stop to pee and warm up whenever we want and basically create a completely different experience from the messegers' frenzied ride. I also know that Hui Hwa will join us in this plan.

Road Bike: I really want to do the FSS on a road bike instead of my beloved tank of a hybrid. Unfortunately, all of the women who in the past offered to lend me their road bike are tenuously thinking about doing the ride themselves. Great for the ride--boo for me getting a road bike. A guy overheard me mentioning this and offered to let me use his bike and while we were talking pick-up details another guy offered me his newer, faster road bike. So I have gone from road bike famine to feast. I never even thought about asking guys to borrow their bikes, but these two guys are about my height, so it shouldn't be a problem. I love, Love, LOVE that people are so generous about lending out their expensive bikes to me.

Helmets: At the Auto Show protest the dogwoman had the mike to speak about her bike safety advocacy. She mentioned that she was successful in persuading a young man to wear a helmet and stated, "Another life saved, another accident avoided." This makes no sense. How does wearing a helmet prevent an accident? Even though I currently wear a helmet (I'm getting sick of it and will likely stop wearing it for daylight riding in the summer), I am annoyed by the reverent way people seem to think that helmets are the best way to ride safely. The best way to be safe on a bike is to know how to ride in traffic. I know how to do this. In a 'street riding' test I only made one mistake and have since corrected my behavior. [lane position when making a left turn--stay to the right of the lane, otherwise cars will weasel to your right, creating a situation where the bicyclist and motorists paths will cross to achieve proper lane positioning at the completion of the turn] Slapping a helmet on a person with no skills to ride in traffic does not make them a safe rider. Yet this seems to be what most people concentrate on when they discuss bike safety. What about teaching them how to ride predictably, visibly and defensively? But most importantly, would be teaching, expecting and requiring motorist to drive safely in general and specifically around bikes.

I ride almost everyday and almost everyday I almost get into an accident because of a driver's carelessness or aggression.

Almost everyday.

The only thing that saves me from a daily collision is my ability to anticipate the stupid things drivers do and quickly respond. This is super-defensive riding that becomes second nature to urban riders. It is seeing a car slow down for an intersection and recognize that they will turn right at the next street, even when they don't signal. It is approaching an intersection with an oncoming car hoping to turn left and realizing that they may not see me--and then evaluating the situation and taking the best course of action to prevent the possible collision. It is recognizing the behavior patterns of taxi-cabs: does it have a fare, or will it pull over suddenly by that group of pedestrians up ahead hoping to lure one inside? It is riding in gridlock and constantly scanning for cars that might cross my path to take an alley shortcut or pull some other jackass move. It is always knowing what vehicles are around me and what they will do next so I have an 'escape route' to use when I need to react to avoid a collision. It is always knowing that even if a driver is looking straight at me, even if we seem to be making eye contact I shouldn't expect that they both see me and will respect my right of way. Instead I have learned to ride as if the streets were filled with half-blind crackheads searching for their next fix alternating with Tourettes-afflicted narcoleptics.

Ok, done with the random babbling. Caffeine is too fun.


At 9:03 PM, Anonymous Erin said...

The description of motorists as "half-blind crackheads searching for their next fix alternating with Tourettes-afflicted narcoleptics" is completely unfair. Just kidding! I thought it was absolutely hysterical. I ride in New Orleans where most of the time the drivers probably are crackheads and or narcoleptics as well as boozed up.


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