Friday, January 11, 2013

Miss Me!

Yeah, I've been away. My excuses were good -- moving into a new house, unpacking, getting stuff turned on, getting stuff fixed, more unpacking, holidays -- and it was frankly easier to just not blog than post a blog about why I wasn't blogging.

Another reason for me not to write is that I barely rode my bike 50 miles each of the last three weeks of 2012. Then there was one ride where I decorated my bike with Christmas lights and reindeer antlers and went into downtown Franklin from our new house on Christmas morning, and I thought about writing a blog about that. But somewhere during the move, my camera took a hard ding and the lens aperture will no longer open. Somehow, that blog without pictures was just not worth writing.

Anyhow, I'll try to write more regularly in the next few weeks ... even if the weather outside is frightful and I don't ride as much here as I could in Florida. In part, I'll blog more because a number of friends have asked for it, but mostly because I miss the artistic release of blathering on about my favorite subject: Me.

Speaking of Me ...

RandoGirl and I were at a party during this past holiday season and were talking to some co-workers about bike-riding in Nashville. One of the people that we were talking to said that she often encounters bicyclists when driving around town, and went to great lengths to stress how she always slows down and waits for a clear spot in the traffic before passing.

"I always remind myself that the person on the bike is probably someone's father or mother," she said. "It's someone's son or daughter out there."

What she meant was, "You all are real people, too."

I got what she was trying to say, but it kind of rubbed me the wrong way. When she's out in her car and comes across a bicyclist, she should just be able to say, "Oh, look. A vehicle. It's moving well under the speed limit." Then, she should deal with that vehicle exactly as the law says, waiting to pass when it is safe and leaving at least three feet when she does. She shouldn't need to remind herself that we are, technically, members of the same race as she.

Think about what you do when you come upon a postal worker delivering the mail. Yeah, you know that mail truck is probably going to stop at the next mailbox, and so you may roll your eyes and sigh and eventually zip around the truck as soon as you get an opening. But you don't have to tell yourself, "That mailman is somebody's son. Somebody's father. It's a real person." But I hear this kind of crap from car drivers all the time when they talk about dealing with cyclists on the road. It's as if they need to justify law-abiding tolerance.

What brought this back into my mind today was me thinking about how I have been riding ever since we moved to the new house. Now, whenever I ride somewhere I wave at the cars, smile, and make eye contact. Subconsciously, what I'm doing is personalizing myself -- and, by proxy, all other cyclists -- to my new neighbors. I want them to see all two-wheeled, spandex-clad travelers as good, friendly folks ... so that they will (hopefully) not run me over.

What I'm doing is one of the things that you're supposed to do if you are ever taken hostage. According to expert, you should personalize yourself, so that you are RandoBoy and not just that tall dorky guy who smells like old cabbage. If you do that, the bank robber is less likely to evacuate your brains from your skull when it comes time to make a point to the police negotiator that "he is serious, dang it!"

I know that, as a cyclist, I've been taken hostage. Instead of being tied up and locked in the vault, I'm only fettered in that I'd best ride single file and as far to the right in the lane as I can, and that various roads are all but forbidden to me. It's okay -- I've come to accept it, and I'm willing to shuck and jive so that the two-ton SUVs with which I regularly share tarmac around here will suffer me to exist.

But don't tell me at some party how enlightened you are because you don't run me down every day. Telling me that you allow me to live because I'm human just like you is insulting in ways that you cannot possibly imagine.

1 comment:

  1. RB, bit of a highjack but I had a couple of very energetic dog attacks recently and I would not mind if the owner thought - Hey, that could be my pastor my dog is trying to kill.