Thursday, June 24

Cycle Therapy

Lately, it seems to me I’ve been reading a lot of stuff about motorist scofflaws and close calls and Left Hook/Right Cross (or is it the other way round - I forget). It’s gotten to the point that I’m starting to feel left out. On the other hand, the little aches and pains that seem to appear when one rides a lot have assumed a giant significance. “Is that a cramp or deep vein thrombosis – oh, it’s on the leg OTHER than the one the doctors thought was the problem.” All this stuff has me concluding that a little “cycle therapy” is in order to put things in perspective.

All in all, I’d have to rate the behavior of my motorists as pretty darn good. As near as I can figure, I’ve rolled about 5300 miles in my commute to Fort Worth Alliance Airport. I average about 10 motorist interactions per mile, so my commute has produced something in excess of 50k interactions. In all those, the only time I can honestly say I felt seriously nervous was when my “OU Buddy” threatened to back over me in his red pickup truck. One bad apple out of 50k encounters really doesn’t support the theory that motorists are out to get cyclists. Of course, the very best motorists seem to be those in the big trucks, with my concrete guys getting the title.

This is not to say my motorists are angels. I’m amazed at the number of them that have cell phones glued to their ears, it wouldn’t upset me if they’d drive with both hands on their steering wheel, and a lot of them drive entirely too fast in marginal conditions. I’ve seen a few pulled over so they could be given field sobriety tests. I’ve also seen motorists crash into each other, but somehow they manage to put all that aside, and they almost always treat me better than I probably deserve.

Perhaps it is the bike, but somehow when I ride, I don’t dawdle. I imagine I belong to the HG Wells Wing of cycling. This morning, I noticed my left shoe was soaking wet from the sweat I’d dripped on it. Previously, I’d gotten fascinated with the way sweat flew off my helmet strap whenever I did a head check to the right. THOSE behaviors might have something to do with the little aches and pains. Cycling to work gives me lots of time to contemplate trivial things. Like how sweat flies, and how often I get passed by motorists when I stop for stop signs. It is a little known fact that the speed differential between a motorist and a cyclist is far greater (on a % basis) at a stop sign than when that same cyclist is passed while going full bore down the Alliance Gateway Freeway. All of this trivia somehow settles the mind, or maybe I’ve just ridden too far on too many hot days.

The therapy comes when my motorists treat me kindly, and it is neither boiling hot, nor frosty, nor too windy. And I reach that last ridge before work. Sometimes I just stop and savor the moment, or maybe a bit of coffee on the way home. On exceptional mornings, I’ll see an unusual aircraft in the skies above. I think I saw another DC-3 this week. On balance, the bike ride beats the heck out of driving in and walking in from the parking lot. Where’s the therapy in THAT?

It's especially theraputic when I ride home on a day with a predicted 20% chance of rain, like today, only to have the LAST photo occur less than ten minutes after I walked in the door. Priceless.

Yup, the Downpour Had Those Gutters Overflowing. It'd Been Dry When I Walked In


Rantwick said...

Holy rain! If it has been so damn hot, wouldn't you have enjoyed getting caught in it?

Nice to see a reminder of how good so many motorists are... my experience is similar, if a little more urban and much shorter.

John Romeo Alpha said...

My cycling therapy at work this week is that for some mysterious reason the parking garage has filled up so fast that not everyone can find a spot. That is, not everyone who drives a car. The three of us who bike have a nice shady rack right near the door. And agreed about my motorists, the vast majority of them are pretty decent.

Big Oak said...

I'd have to agree with my motorists also. But the ones I keep an extra eye out for are the crossover SUV drivers on their cell phones.

Speaking of DC-3's, each spring the DNR here hires a guy with a DC-3 to spray Bt (a non-lethal bacteria specific to moth larvae) over woods with outbreaks of gypsy moth larvae. It's something to see that big, loud, graceful machine flying 300 feet above the trees.

Oldfool said...

A driver showing courtesy is something I seldom see here. When it does happen I am shocked and show a lot of gratitude as best I can. I almost never see a car being driven without the driver having a phone growing out of its ear. Last week while coming home from town I was passed by 9 cars in a row on the phone. I doubt that any saw me.
We have two or three DC3's at the air base here and I see one fly at least every 90 days.

Ham said...

10 Motorist interactions per mile. Wow. That's on your commute, not a Sunday ride?

Steve A said...

Ham, the interaction count is a product of the way I count interactions, as detailed on my post of June 30, 2009, and a route that takes full advantage of the road network to enable me to create a low conflict (mostly) route that is a full six miles shorter than my drive to work route. On my way in to work, I will often have less than an interaction per mile for the first half of my commute. The low total is one reason the last time I got honked at was nearly 1000 commute miles ago. Obviously, there are some segments that are much livelier.

Anonymous said...

On friday I was riding home, waiting at a stop light (next to a semi, and I agree; they're total professionals, probably because they actually understand how difficult and dangerous driving a big motor vehicle is - though my only recent near death experience was near that same light when a semi-driver without a trailer decided he was tired of waiting in the queue of drivers in the left turn lane and suddenly merged right - into my path; when un-laden by a trailer those puppies can really accelerate! at least I knew that it had been unintentional...) (whew that was a long parenthetical!) anyway there I was waiting when from behind buzzed a P-51 on final to "Boeing Field" I clapped my hands and raised them above my head like I'd won somehting, and the motorist kitty corner from me across the intersection laughed, because he'd seen the Mustang approaching and knew that I knew how cool and unexpected that plane had been.

So in 50,000 motorist interactions you've only been Threatened With Murder one time, gee that's great, I guess...

JAT in Seattle

Steve A said...

Some motorists are harder to train than others. I've encountered this guy twice since then and, while he's clearly tried to intimidate me both times, he's less nasty each time. Since it was the same guys three times, I figured it wouldn't do to inflate the situation.

A Mustang! Wow, I've not seen any of those our way. Maybe this year when the air show comes. Last year we had the Blue Angels parked ouside our building's ramp.

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