Saturday, September 17

Car School Almost Gets Gumby

It is time to take a little break from bike school discussions. It may not be well known, but just as people that think they know how to ride a bike go to bike school, people that think they know how to motor go to car school. This morning, I made a pilgrimage to bring y'all secret spy shots of a motoring CAR SCHOOL in action. Since it seems that some people on bikes are sure motorists are out to get them, I focused on actions that might support their contention. Specially, I took a look at parking lot drills, and especially dooring practice, debris creation, and what, in less scrupulous hands, might look like a photo of Gumby about to be run down.

Without further ado, here is the story. I elected to write my story about the local Jaguar Club event. They call it a "Concours d'Elegance," but it really serves the multiple purposes of giving them practice opening their doors, arranging debris, and encouraging self loathing (it is an event where you PAY people to tell you how lousy your car is). Some say this fosters road rage, but I haven't ever seen a connection myself. Perhaps it is a motoring version of one of the cycling myths I occasionally talk about.

When the motorists arrive, they are checked out to ensure the cars meet minimal standards. This is called a "mechanical check." In the photo below, you can see a Jaguar XJS being checked out. Its motorist is asked by the mechanical judge to put her cell phone aside and do things like prove her horn and lights work properly. Contrary to what some believe, the motorist is NOT encouraged to yell at the judge to "get off the road," though I have read the rules very carefully and there is not any actual deduction established for yelling at a judge or even for running one over. As when dealing with a real judge, it seems most motorists err on the side of being nice to the judge. You might wonder about the ambulance in the background. It is possible the driver was merely interested in watching the car show. However, my own theory was that it was there in case any of the Jaguars with a V12 engine suddenly burst into flames. None actually did so while I was there, or I'd have included it with these pictures.

I did Not See Any Motorists Yell at the Pedestrian Judge. Lots of Smiling.
As you can see, some of the motorists don't have the dooring concept down properly. This Jaguar Mark 9 owner only had his door open on the curb side. Chatting with the owner, he got that Jaguar on the roof at a garage sale for $2. It keeps watch in case any show judges are lurking around nearby. The cone is near the boundary of the street side door zone if he'd wanted to open the door on that side. For those that have never seen one of these cars, they are very much like the Mark 8 car that is featured in the old Hitchcock film; "Vertigo," which starred Jimmy Stewart.

Big Cat Keeps Watch on Top of Another Big Cat
Other motorists elected to try all ways to get those doors out in the breeze. The blue car is a Mark 2. The Mark 2 was a more compact model than the Mark 9. In the UK, they were much favored by getaway drivers.

This Door Opening Strategy Would Catch a Cyclist on EITHER Side.
Some of the motorists adopted an entirely different approach. The owner of this XK140 didn't have any doors open at all. Instead, the debris, cleverly disguised as trunk contents and cleaning supplies, would be SURE to entrap any cyclist venturing too close to the left hand side of the car.

1955 Jaguar XK140
Now, some people on bikes like to ride closer to cars than would be prudent if a door actually opened. Perhaps they imagine all cars have tiny doors like the 1968 Jaguar E type Open Two Seater in the photo below. My own E type is a coupe version of the same car, though mine, being a year earlier has covered headlights, more power, and a tiny ding in the bonnet where a bike crashed into it. THAT will be a story saved for another day. Not that I pay any attention to such things, but I'd say that Jaguar looks an awful lot like it is painted Silver Opalescent Blue.

Notice How Visible The Spectator in Green is, Even Though She is Not in the Foreground
Some motorists decided to team up and have a whole ROW of open doors. Somehow, I think this tactic would not be very effective at snaring even a dumb person on a bike. I also think these guys lowered their chances by parking on the left side of the street. Even in North Texas, the majority of people on bikes ride on the RIGHT side of the road. Perhaps they were trying to remind the cars they originally came from the UK. It didn't occur to me to do an in depth interview on this phenomenon until after I got home.

Unlike Toyotas, Jaguars Seem to Hang Around FOREVER. The Ones on This Row, On Average, Would Be Old Enough to Vote if They Were People
However, completely unexpectedly, I saw a little green man on the pavement. My initial reaction was that, somehow, John Romeo Alpha's Gumby had migrated to Texas. Closer examination revealed that it was nothing more than an action figure that looked somewhat "Gumby like" from a distance. I named it "Almost Gumby."

"Almost Gumby." Smooshed a Little But Unbroken!
Careful perspective and zoom choice created an impression that "Almost Gumby" was about to get creamed by a powerful, late model Jaguar. No doubt, someone trying to sell cycling by scaring people (is that a real good marketing technique?), would claim this car was driven by a raging maniac. In truth, the driver was a very nice lady who was getting coffee before she got down to seriously preparing her car for the judges to tell her how she failed to measure up.

And such is one form of CAR SCHOOL. I have to say, those that tell you all vehicles are the same are NOT telling the truth! Cars really ARE different, and some cars are different than the rest.


Anonymous said...

It seems to me that the Jag owners are doing a good job showing how they get in cyclists' way, a few just need a few more pointers.

Didn't Morse drive a Jag like the red one in the photo near the top of your post? His was all red though.

Did you save the gumby to put on one of your bikes??

John Romeo Alpha said...

Steve, alas! Actual Gumby jumped off my bar a while back, and I haven't seen him since. I have considered renaming my commuter "Spirit of Gumby" in his memory. Seeing Almost Gumby taunting Jaguar drivers who are already near the edge after having judges badger them about how inadequate their Jags is perhaps the best memorial Actual Gumby could possibly have.


Steve A said...

Actually, those Jaguar owners WOULD impede any cyclists passing by.

Morse? Are you referring to the legendary John Morse of the Vancouver Jaguar Club? For those who are untutored, John Morse, in his red Jaguar E type, was the first human ever to complete the JCNA slalom course in less than 40 seconds. He was one of the smoothest drivers I ever saw.

Sadly, rescuing "Almost Gumby" did not occur to me and he was a bit small for a bike decoration. He might have made a good trunk bag good luck charm, but I don't seem to think of these things in a timely fashion.

Steve A said...

Perhaps Gumby really is what some claim for Elvis, or for Yeti.

Chandra said...

That's one very entertaining post. I could only recognize one of the Jaguars. No, I am not referring to the one on the roof!

Peace :)

PS. For some reason, I thought you guys were talking about Inspector Morse, until I read your response to PA's comment!

Steve A said...

Unless PA clarifies, Chandra, we may never know. I do not know about Inspector Morse, and PA may not know of John Morse. On the other hand, perhaps John lives around the corner from PA and W, and they all take tea together at the Empress when they take holiday in Victoria. I was amazed to discover in the CS class that Amy Cole Wharton not only went to the same junior high school as I did, but my mom worked at her elementary school, we belonged to the same swim club, and she actually lived two blocks from me for some time. It truly IS a small world at times. Amy, however, was on the swim team and I was not as hard core.

Anonymous said...

... ah, yes I was actually talking about the Very Great Chief Inspector Endeavor Morse, who lived in Oxford England, who loved his red jag, a pint of beer and fine classical music, but hated his first name, and paying for his rounds, to which he left to his Sergeant Lewis to look after... ah, a great series of British TV.

...sorry Steve, I have never heard of "John Morse" before!! Chandra, you are indeed correct!

limom said...

I loves me the E type.
A D type would be nice too, with that cowling in back.
All aero don't you know.
Something I didn't know, there's an E type in MOMA's permanent collection.
It is a work of art.

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