Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Things I'm Learning on My Bike

It has been an eventful winter at the Rootchopper Institute of Bicycle Education.  Last week I learned that even when riding into a gale force wind, it is a good idea to look where you are going. Oddly, I now catch myself staring at the ground in front of me as I ride. I've never noticed that before. Riding into the back of a parked car and going ass over tea kettle is a rough way to learn. So is the prospect of losing my 19 year old steed to fatigue and stupidity. (What was I doing riding in a wind storm anyway?)

Today I learned that runners on the Mount Vernon Trail have their own personal relationships with God.  As it goes by National Airport, the Mount Vernon Trail is pinched between the airport fence and the George Washington Parkway (which, unlike the airport, was not renamed after the host of Death Valley Days, but I digress).  I was heading south, plodding along on Little Nellie like a prospector on a burro in the mountains of the old west. Coming toward me on the opposite side of the trail along the fence was a fit female runner. She was cruising along with ear plugs, lost in her running trance. Behind her came a man, about my age, a bike commuter with a head of steam.  He had just come off a bridge that carries the trail high over an airport access road. No warning. Zoom, right past the runner just as she was about to step to her left for some reason known only to her and her iPod. The cyclist just missed her.  "Jesus Fucking Christ!!!"  she yelled as she cringed toward the fence. She was lucky she didn't get hit. The passing cyclist was lucky he didn't crash into her. I was lucky they both didn't collide into me. Just about the only good that came of the whole situation was that I learned that Jesus has a middle name.

It's nearly spring time folks.  Time for all of us to pay attention (me included). Slow your roll (as Nici on WHFS used to say). Chill. Take the ear plugs out. Give a warning when passing. If we all don't exercise a little common sense and pay attention to our surroundings, we're going to have a miserable March.  And having your own personal Jesus, with or without a middle name, isn't going to do you a damned bit of good as the EMTs disentangle our mangled bodies and machines.


  1. My pet peeve about the MVT and other trails is cyclists who do not give an audible warning when passing. If a jogger has earplugs, make the audible warning extra loud. I also agree with you about slowing down. If it's multi-use, it's not a raceway.

  2. ha, ha - funny re the middle name. :) yea, I've seen a number of near-misses in the past. People waking from their winter's slumber and not quite "with it" yet in being around others on the trail.

    1. I was passed several times this morning by regular bike commuters who didn't give a warning. How hard is it to say "LEFT"?

      BTW, it occurs to me that it takes some effort to get "Jesus Christ" out with the middle name. My mother used to say "Jesus, Mary and Joseph." Less vulgar, I suppose, but it's lacking in shock value.

    2. I get passed several times, period, by cyclists who don't give warning. Unfortunately, it tends to be the rule rather than the exception.

      Meanwhile, the area where I'm most worried about getting "entangled" (and almost did about a month ago) is on the wetland bridge just north of Slaters Ln. There's a reason you don't go two-abreast on that bridge, and I both left skidmarks and screamed at the idiots who did so coming in the opposite direction on a training ride.

    3. Froggie: I'm *SO* thankful for my rearview mirror so I can see other cyclists racing up and can prepare to be overtaken. Having spent an evening in the ER strapped to a backboard after being hit by another cyclist, I'm extra sensitive about potential collisions. (On the upside, I came out of that experience with merely a concussion while he dislocated his shoulder and broke a collar bone. Tank of a Schwinn cruiser versus super light roadbike. Yeah...)