Friday, February 09, 2007

Pics from the seat

It was a cold ride yesterday morning, -16C, but no wind so it was quite easy to be comfortable. So much so that I figured I'd stop and take a few pictures of nothing too exciting. On the ride home for lunch, the light snow had some very gentle ruts in it and made the bike zig-zag all over the place. I opted to drive my truck back to work and swung by the bike recycle rack by my work. I took two more bikes yesterday and there are two more tempting me.

The sky is kind of grey and flat for the last several days, but the great thing is that @6:00pm, even with he overcast skies, it's light out!! I love riding home when it's not dark. I ride to work early enough that there isn't much traffic, and morning drivers seem to be a bit more cautious than when they are returning in the evening after a hard day in the office and a miserable ride home stuffed into a car. Evenings seem to be death race 2000 where everyone is just trying to get home as fast as possible. It's nice when they can see you clearly from a distance rather than catching a glimpse of my blinkers as they're 10 feet from my rear tire.

All that being said, the drivers in Strathmore have been more than courteous to me lately. With the fresh snow, I've been opting to ride right in the car tracks in the lane and not on the shoulder. To my surprise, they have all given me more than enough room and most have pulled completely into the opposite lane and passed my slowly. Thank you Strathmore. It's much appreciated. I also think that people are getting used to seeing me on my bike, on those roads, at those times, which definitely helps. That's the beauty of more people riding bikes! The more people are on their bikes, the more the cars are used to it and anticipate it, making it much safer for all. In the summer I'll often see another cyclist or two riding to work, but in the winter, I've never ever seen anyone else spinning around town.

I also think that it helps having a bit of experience riding bicycles in traffic. It was the same thing when I first started riding motorcycles. (I've sold most of my motor bikes but still have two and still really dig them) It takes about a year to get truly used to driving in a manner that naturally assumes you're invisible and automatically adjusting your speed, lane position and constantly be looking for bail-out routes for every time you see a car on the rode. It's just the way it is, you can't change it, you can fight it, but if you loose, you really loose.

I used to run in a manner that enforced the fact that I'm a pedestrian and all cars have to yield to me. It was all fine and dandy until last year on the first day of training for my 3rd Marathon. I was crossing an intersection in the cross walk @ 5:30 in the morning and an oncoming truck had a stop sign. I figured that he would try to casually blow through it while only slowing down a little, and I was going to make him stop!! Only problem, he didn't see me at all and whack!! I was hit by a Ford 3/4 ton 4X4 truck. RIG PIG!!!

Oh no.

By God's grace I was completely unscathed, even through it threw me over 10feet and crack the plastic grill of his truck, I somehow landed on both feet. Adrenaline took over and I tried yanking him out of his truck and told him that I took the first hit, now he's taking the second whether he likes it or not. He took off and I filed a police report. Nothing came of it, but for his sake I hope I never see him again. Serenity now.......

The point is, that while I was completely right, I could have paid the ultimate price for being right. Being dead right isn't worth it. You can't change the way that people drive, you can't change the fact that people think they own the road and the most important thing is getting through the intersection first but you can change the way that you interact with the vehicles around you. Knowing that cars can and will be erratic and ignorant at times, lets you know how you need to adjust your riding style and mind set to ensure that biking is all fun and no danger. Biking is safe, if the rider is safe.


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