I was buzzed on the road the other day – and the motorist did it on purpose. I know this because I followed him home and had a conversation with him.
Here are the facts:
- I was not on the right edge of the road, potholes and road disrepair made that impossible, though when the road improved I moved over.
- Once I moved to the edge of the road (6″ from grass), that’s when the motorist moved to pass.
- The motorist, in a pickup truck, passed me within six inches without crossing the yellow line.
- I was riding at 21 mph.
- The speed limit on the small village road was 25 mph.
- On being passed so close I followed the motorist home.
I could have taken this two ways at this point. I opted for that which had the most potential for good results for cyclists. I chose to talk to the man. Maybe “appeal” would be a better word.
I stopped in the road in front of his house (rather than be confrontational and pull onto his driveway which would technically be trespassing if he asked me to get off his property) and asked, “How about you give us some room out there?”
His response was that he had to pass me that close because there was a double yellow line and he couldn’t cross that and he couldn’t be expected to wait behind me at 10 mph [Ed. Seriously].
I responded, “But I was going 21 mph, not 10”.
His response was priceless, “But the speed limit is 25 mph, what am I supposed to do, wait behind you?” [ED. He buzzed me over 4 mph].
I said, “Look, you could have crossed the double yellow to get around me safely and no cop in his right mind would pull you over for that.”
He continued his protest, “Look, man, you’re no cop so don’t quote the law to me. I couldn’t cross the double yellow and had to get by you.”
I don’t have to point out the idiocy in his thinking.
I said, “Look man, I’ll tell you this. What you did could have killed a less experienced cyclist and if a cop had seen what you did, that’s felony assault with a vehicle and you can take that right to the jail cell.”
At that point he started walking back toward his house and said something unintelligible about “seeing me on the road”. I responded by saying that he would be guaranteed to see me out there because I’d be there”.
This brings me to what I should do now.
First, I’m heading over to the local police station this morning to have a conversation with an officer about that wahoo. He’ll get a visit at, at some point, from an officer who will explain the law to him and that you can’t pass a cyclist within inches because he’s going four miles an hour under the speed limit.
Next, this whole thing was my fault – and I actually made it worse for future cyclists with that guy. I rode too close to the edge of the road – I gave the motorist just enough room to squeeze by me and he took the lane I gave him. It never ceases to amaze me that the rare motorist (and I do mean rare, in 8,000 miles I may see one or two guys like that in a full year – every single one drives a pickup truck) will buzz a cyclist simply to be an asshole. It’s not only that he’s risking the cyclist’s life, but he’s willing to risk prison time just to be a little penis (and I mean tiny). I should have kept my part of the lane, so that the motorist had to cross the yellow to get by me because eventually he’s going to see an average cyclist out there and do the same thing, thinking everyone can maintain control like I did. That motorist could leave this experience believing what he did wasn’t that big a deal and end up killing someone else.
So before that happens, and being the president of our cycling club, I’m going to use this Spring to make a public service announcement that seeks to simplify what the law is (at least in our State) and let’s motorists as well as cyclists, know what is acceptable and what isn’t. This is the main reason I’m going over to the local police station this morning, because one way or another I’m going to get law enforcement involved in this effort as well – so I can produce something that will help ease tensions. That’s what decent people do. They don’t whine, cry and throw temper tantrums. They find ways to make things better for everyone.
In the meantime, my friends, be careful out there. This is the silly season where motorists realize, yet again, that not only are we cyclists not going anywhere, we’re multiplying – and that seriously pisses some of them off.
One final point for the hateful motorists out there who would swerve for a chipmunk but not a father of two on a bicycle: Your hatred of cyclists is misplaced. Don’t hate us because we ride. Lobby your politicians for wide shoulders to get us off the road. It’s their failure that puts us on the same asphalt. Think about this long and hard; Do you really think we want to be on the same road surface as your ignorant ass?!
See that hole in the brake pad?
That little chunk of metal used to be stuck in it. This is why we regularly check the brake pads.
Imagine the damage that could have been done to my rim had that been left in there.
Now, there’s a tell that’ll let you know you have a potential problem but it requires you pay attention and recognize tiny differences in feel and sound.
Put simply, the brake will feel and sound as if you’re braking under wet conditions, without the wet.
Checking the pads is about one of the easiest things you can do as far as bike maintenance goes. Open the brake release, remove the wheel and shine a flashlight at the pads. If you see a piece or metal, simply dig it out with the tip of a knife or a razor blade. Then lightly sand the pad down with a piece of sandpaper.
It’s about as simple as you get. Unless you hail from Canada… Then it’s aboot as simple as you get.
Ride hard my friends.
My name is Jim and I am a cycle-holic. It has been, let’s see now… carry the one… twenty-two days since I took a day off the bike. If the weather and my schedule hold up, it’ll be April before I take another.
I ride each and every day unless the weather or my schedule makes a ride impossible. Let’s just say that’s rare.
It has also been approximately five years since I had any kind of injury that forced me to take time off as well. The issue was a saddle that was too wide. Once I had the proper saddle, I was back to riding in a matter of hours.
This doesn’t mean I don’t do rest, I do. According to everything we hear the body must be given its rest time. The trick is in your definition of rest – to bum a line from an ex-president, though he was questioning the definition of the word, ‘is’:
Rest (rest) – N0un:
noun: rest; plural noun: rests; suffix: -rest; suffix: -rests
an instance or period of relaxing or ceasing to engage in strenuous or stressful activity.
An instance or period of
relaxing or ceasing to engage in strenuous or stressful activity.
As they say; Bingo. My rest days are slower, easier rides. They’re the bike rides I use to look at the world that I usually ignore because I’ve got my head down and I’m trying like hell to catch my hair on fire with the effort. Where my hard days are often spent well north of 20 mph, my easy days are spent cruising around with my wife at 16-ish.
While I realize 16 mph is still very fast to most, to me it’s not. I actually have to concentrate so I don’t speed up. This is, of course, all relative. What may be fast to me will be slow to many others – the point is not to get into a pissing match to define “fast” (because nobody can win that, everyone ends up wet). The point is that we find our own “rest” pace that’s significantly slower than our best effort.
Now, one important point to note: I do not count the calories burned on rest days toward what I eat. See, because I’m faster than average, my tracking software tends to look at a 16 mph ride as an actual cycling event. It’ll suppose that because I rode 16 miles in an hour, I burned 800 or 900 calories. The reality is, my heart rate barely gets over 100 bpm on a slow day so I therefore maybe burned half that suggested by my app. Doing this helps keep me lean.
Also, and this is a really important point, I time my slower “rest” days to work with my fast days. For instance, I rode a double on Sunday – 32 miles in the morning, 17 in the evening. On Monday my legs were tired so I took it easy because I knew I’d be full throttle on Tuesday at the club ride. In fact, even if I’d felt good and strong I’d still have ridden easy on Monday just so I could have a full tank for Tuesday.
The point is, a rest day doesn’t have to be a day spent laying on the couch doing nothing. Actually, I recommend against doing that for cyclists… It takes too long to spin the legs back up after a full rest day. Active rest, or “not being lazy” is actually where it’s at for me. One thing’s for sure: I can’t argue against what I do – five years is a long time to go without an injury of any kind. It works if you work it. I won’t if you don’t.
Now here’s the why: The more I ride, the harder it is to come back quickly after a day off. My legs feel sluggish the day after a true day off. So much so that it actually takes a day to get my normal strength and power back. If, on the other hand, instead of taking a day off, I ride very easy with a relatively quick cadence, the next day my legs feel fresh and revived. I imagine there will be purists out there who will argue that “the body needs its time off”, that I need days off, etc. etc.. I get it. I just leave that for the winter and off-season. Or rain days. Rain days are good for rest.
It was 52 glorious degrees when we rolled out for the seven mile warmup. It was a fast warmup at that. So fast we had 20 minutes to spare before the ride so we added a couple of more warmup miles.
It was sunny but the wind was starting to howl pretty hard from the NNW. When the clock struck Six, we rolled but the wind had really picked up – and the temperature headed entirely in the wrong direction.
Within five miles I thought about turning around and heading home. It was dangerous – 20 mph sustained with gusts up to 30. Instead, my buddy Mike and I decided to drop for safety’s sake.
We waited for a couple of guys who had dropped and ended up with a neat and tidy four man echelon. Eventually we caught Phill, and Mike and Diane on their tandem. The wind continued to pick up in intensity…
Now, many will be familiar with the fact that if you increase the heat slowly on a pot of water, you can boil a frog, yes?
Well, cyclists work on the same principle, but substitute cold air for boiling water. We tested the theory to perfection last night. It is now an irrefutable Law.
Even cutting ten miles off the normal ride we still only managed a 17.5 mph average. It was the slowest Tuesday night I was ever a part of – 4 mph slower than our normal average. We never got a true tailwind. Best case was a cross-tailwind from the NNW and NW as we headed SW.
Oh, and the Temp? When we started it was a balmy 51 degrees (11 C) with 15-20 mph winds. By the time we finished, it was 35 (2 C) with 20-28 mph winds. It was so cold, my face was numb, along with my feet, legs, hands, arms, and… well, pretty much everything. It was, without a doubt, the most brutal, sunny ride I’ve ever taken part in. I can’t ever remember working so hard to go so slow. However I slice it, and especially if I consider the fact that it took a shower and two more hours to warm up, the ride pretty much sucked – except for one redeeming factor: I was on the Venge. Every year, after a long winter of riding my Trek (and now mountain bikes), I get to fall in love with my bike all over again on Venge Day.
It really is that big a difference going from one bike to the other. My normal stance on high-end bikes still holds firm: Anyone who tells you there’s no difference between a $5,000 bike and a $750 bike has never ridden a $5,000 bike. There’s a mountain of difference, and that mountain is all good.
I’ve been trying to stick to an every other day posting schedule but Venge Day has to take precedence over a silly schedule!
Technically this is a little early but the first club ride of the year is this evening and it’s been, what, something like four months since I’ve turned that cank. Too long.
So this evening will be the continuation of an annual tradition – when the local weather is finally good enough to let the good bike loose, at least for one night.
I’m under no delusion. We’re not out of range of snow until we get into May but I will celebrate Venge Day with a smile on my face nonetheless…
The weather Friday and Saturday, put simply, sucked. Rain, cold, snow and eventually ice. We had it all. Well, technically hindsight being what it is, my wife and I did have a window we could have snuck a ride into on Friday, but the trainers made more sense with snow looming in the forecast.
Saturday I slept in till 5 and it was the most glorious sleep I’ve had in some time. It looked like this outside:
Cycling without a fat bike would have been foolish so my wife and I hit the trainer early… What could possibly make a trainer ride more bearable?
“Negative Ghost Rider, the pattern is full.”
“Damn that guy!!!”
Yep! A little good old-fashioned Top Gun! Best surround sound movie ever made. Still.
Then the real fun started… My friend James picked me up a little after 11 am so we could head down to the Joe Louis Arena for one of the final Detroit Red Wings games to be played there…
A little history about me, the Red Wings, and my buddy James… I have a Red Wings tattoo that I got the day before they won their second Stanley Cup in my lifetime, their second in a row, in 1998. My wife’s cousin was the physical trainer for the Wings for three Cups – ’97, ’98 and 2002. I got to attend three Stanley Cup parties. I have a Brendan Shanahan sweater that he signed. While I was wearing it. I met, from a distance, Chris Chelios, Darren McCarty, Kris Draper and a few of the Russian Five. To say I’m a fan is a ridiculous understatement.
My friend, who would be giving his first Open Talk later that evening, and I went to our first Wings game with Eric S., another friend of ours, almost fifteen years ago. As my friend described his experience at the game on Saturday, that was the first time he attended a sober sporting event and he knew he would be able to repeat it without worrying.
With the Red Wings leaving JLA for good, my friend and I will have a good deal of our 20-year history closing as well. He wanted to see one last game now that he’d made it in recovery.
I picked Saturday because of the Colorado Avalanche being in town… They were the only team left in the season that had a worse record than the Wings and if you weren’t aware of that rivalry…
It simply was a perfect capper.
My wife met us for dinner and after shuffling the restaurant twice to avoid waits, we called a favor in to my brother-in-law and traveled from Hartland to Brighton and ate at my brother’s restaurant, The Wooden Spoon. Spectacular is the only word for that. Steak, blue corn grits, salad with fresh-made ranch dressing, coffee and a perfect piece of pecan pie.
A perfect dinner was followed by my friend’s Open Talk and he nailed it – and I was able to run interference all day so my friend wasn’t obsessing about having to give his talk.
If Saturday was mainly about recovery, Sunday was about unadulterated mileage. 32 miles in the morning with my wife, Matt and Chuck. Now, many of you would rightly say that, considering my normal mileage that isn’t all that impressive – and you’d be right. My regular cycling buddy, Mike was unable to ride in the morning due to a family obligation so I went back out with him for another 17 later that afternoon.
The morning ride was chilly but the sun was shining so even though we did have a little bit of ice on the road to start, it wasn’t enough to hurt traction and it melted off as soon as the sun hit it anyway. Unfortunately that made for some rooster tails early on but as long as we kept it out of the main tire channels in the road, it wasn’t too bad. The most enjoyable part of the ride for me was that I got stronger the farther we went. My turns at the front got longer and faster. There’s no doubt I pulled into the driveway with a smile on my face. Mrs. Bgddy, despite protesting through some of the ride, hung in tough and did awesome.
The afternoon ride was a little trickier, but only because everything had dried out – I almost took the Venge out for its first day in the sun. I didn’t though, in the end. Mike called me shortly after four and we were rolling by a quarter after. We did a (mercifully) slow 17 miles (21 for Mike). I think we ended up with a 16-1/2 mph average. It was one of those rare rides where nothing matters but turning the pedals over and talking with my friend – and fortunately with Michigan and Michigan State playing in March Madness, we didn’t have to worry about traffic much. We spent all but three miles side by side talking life over.
That brings me to today… Today is my 8,888 consecutive 24 hours of sobriety. Good times and noodle salad indeed.