A couple of cycling’s little ironies:
1) I commented before about the “convergence” factor, in which I approach a slow object on the trail going my way, be it a slow cyclist, a rollerblader, a jogger, or an elderly couple ambling along. Just as I get ready to pass–even if I haven’t seen another bike for 15 minutes–sure enough one emerges from the distance on the opposite side of the trail, coming straight at me. The timing is just wrong, so that I have to slow way down, sometimes almost to a stop, and wait for the onrushing cyclist to go by before I can pull out and pass. Ah, the lost momentum! Oh, the pain of getting rolling again! The other day this happens, except I am the approaching cyclist forcing the other guy to slow down just because I show up at the wrong moment. He’s behind the ambling elderly couple. As I pass he says to me with irritation “move over!”. He wants me to hug the right edge of the trail so he can get by easily. Wait! Excuse me? I am not obligated to make way on my side of the trail so you can squeeze by the couple by riding on my side without colliding with me. I own my side of the trail. You can use it when nobody’s there. That’s the deal. More to the point, it’s the deal because I don’t know you. I can see you’re going much slower than I am. Maybe you’re not such a good bike handler. Maybe the couple is hearing-impaired and will step to the left despite your warning, forcing you to choose between hitting them and hitting me. I reckon there’s a pretty good chance that either you’re a dodgy bike-handler or would prefer to hit me or both. So the last thing I am going to do is enable your impatience and potential ineptitude. It’s just not worth it to me to save you ten seconds and some added effort.
2) Another earlier blog had to do with the steep ascent of Hunter Station Road. After that climb, I loop around on Lawyer’s Rd., Twin Branches Rd., South Lakes Dr., and Sunrise Valley Dr. to rejoin the W&OD Trail. Twin Branches features a swift descent past Lake Audubon and then another middling climb to South Lakes. The whole road is very wide for two lanes, allowing for safe bike passage on either side. But for some time, about halfway up the climb, a single parked car has become a permanent fixture. Since there are seldom any other vehicles parked along the road, I am not looking for it. When I see it looming up I have to pull to the left, out into the traffic part of the lane, check my rear for approaching vehicles, all the while making sure I am following the winding curve of the roadway and keeping up tempo on the climb so that I will expose myself to drivers for as brief a time as possible. The vehicle’s VA tag is BIKE4FN. Anybody who will pay $20 for a vanity plate is evidently sincerely committed to the cause, and I appreciate that. But for those moments that it takes me to pass his or her vehicle, I am unable to bike for fun. Ah, the irony!
©Arnold J. Bradford, 2010.