12 June, 2009

Cycling misadventures

This is not turning into a cycling blog. I can't promise that this will be the last thing I write about biking but hopefully I won't have any more exciting stories to share. Wednesday morning I woke up and went for a ride out to Olmsted Park in Jamaica Plain. It's about 4 miles from my apartment and the loop around the park is another 3 miles. There are biking/walking paths going around the park and I thought it would be a nice ride before going to work that afternoon.

At times there are separate paths for walkers and bikers around the park, but in some places they merge and the path must be shared. I was riding hard and whenever there were walkers or runners I would shout out, "passing on the right!" and the people would move to the left and allow me to pass. I had lost my voice on Monday and was still hoarse but I had enough of a voice for people to hear me shouting. About halfway around the park the biking and walking paths had converged and shortly beyond that were two women walking side by side, just distant enough from one another to block the whole path. I called out, "passing on the right" and kept pedaling towards them, only they didn't respond. I shouted it again and louder, but my voice was failing me and they didn't seem to hear.

To my right was a rocky embankment and to my left was the pond. There was no way I could go off the path. "Fuck," I thought, and hit the brakes hard and yelled "RIGHT!" as loudly as possible as I skidded towards them. I was as far right as I could be on the path, as I hoped that the women would hear my shout and respond. With my last cry they finally noticed. The woman on the right looked back at me, paused, and then moved to the right so she was squarely in front of me. My bike skidded straight into her ass and then everything slowed down.

The back of the bike lifted into the air and I was thrown off head first in slow motion. The ground was above me somehow and I had an upside down view of the bike as I flew through the air. It was a very surreal experience until I hit the pavement. My left foot was still hooked in the pedal but I smashed my right knee into the ground and caught myself with my right palm. I bounced back up immediately to check on the woman I had hit. We were both apologizing to one another but she seemed to be fine. Her rather large ass had cushioned most of the blow which probably helped both of us in the end.

I knew a a crash was inevitable in a big city and I feel better knowing that I got my first one out of the way quickly and without serious injury. I'll definitely be more wary around walkers and runners in the future.

There was almost another incident of a different variety that afternoon. I had ridden my bike to work and was feeling more comfortable in Boston traffic. Most drivers are actually pretty courteous and try to give bikers as much room as possible. On the way home from work I noticed a driver behind me driving slowly instead of passing me. I was as far to the side as I could be but it was a one lane road and I can understand if drivers don't want to risk passing close to bikers. I had had a few others do the same and while I'm sure it's annoying to be stuck behind a bike there was nothing that I could do about it.

After following me for a block the driver honked at me. I looked back at him briefly but again, there was nothing I could do about it. The street finally widened into two lanes and he pulls up along side me with his window open and shouts something at me. I couldn't hear what he said with the wind blowing past my ears but I was pissed. There was no reason to honk at me and even less reason to shout at me as he drove past. The driver sped up as we approached a light and I screamed back at him, "share the road fucker!" The car hit the brakes and stopped at the light as it turned red. "Fuck, why did I have to say anything?" I thought. I road slowly up next to him and the guy begins yelling at me. Stories of road rage shootings flashed in my mind and I realized what a dumbass I was to have shouted back at him. The light was red but there was no traffic. I figured it was better to run the red light and get away from this asshole than risk whatever might have happened had I waited at the light next to him. He continued to scream as I rode away. From now on I plan to ignore any assholes on the road.

1 comment:

  1. Helmets save.

    Try screaming "passing!" at the last second once you've picked a route around those folks. Faced with an asseritve voice, pedestrians typically stiffen instead of hopping to one side or another. Scare tactics are better than confusion.

    Road rage in the Northwest, by contrast, is a peculiar institution. Between cellphone yapping, acting like they're in a hurry, sipping their latte, and trying to hypermile the Prius your typical Northwesterner is either too high or distracted to be bothered with rage. More than rage, ignorance comes to mind as the augmented blond driving her husband's white Escalade passes me in my lane looking slackjawed at me through the passanger window.