On Sunday we went to the Belmont Criterium for the second year in a row. In the Pro Men’s race there was one guy who led practically the whole race, even having a 22 second lead with 8 laps to go. On the second to last lap he disappeared and I’m assuming someone from the United Healthcare team who was leading the peloton/chase got the win.
Had an interesting “conversation” with a BMW driver today on my ride home from work.
He pulled out of a side street directly into my line of travel as I was crossing the intersection. He blasted his horn and then screamed “GET ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD!” while waving towards the grass.
At the stop light he, of course, got as far right as possible and I continued to wait in the middle of the lane behind him like I would at any light whether a car was present or not. An argument ensued with him hanging out of his now open door, in which he yelled “If you’re going to use the roads, ride like a car!”
Confused by this statement, I said back “I am trying to!”
"MOTHERFUCKER I’VE SEEN YOU PASS CARS ALL OVER THIS ROAD!" he replied. With his two young children in the car, no less.
Light turned green, he continues to yell and cuts his “I should’ve run you…” statement short when he realizes it’s green. He shuts his door and begins to accelerate before suddenly brake checking me.
The video of my always-on-when-commuting GoPro would have made an excellent aggressive driver report, too, if I hadn’t had a few choice words in response to his ranting. Shame that my words nullifies his violent actions and intent.
Finally cracked one of these open. Been saving it because I was only ever able to buy 2!
This is something I never encountered until I moved to Charlotte and I still don’t understand. Whether there’s a bike lane present or not, at least 50% of the people that get behind me at a light stay so far behind me. It’s particularly frustrating when I’m the first one at the light and not heavy enough to set off the sensors to trigger a light change (which is common at the intersection in the second image with the little Ford).
Hooray for people driving in the bike lane while texting.
I feel like I need to follow up my first post a little bit before this blog becomes too much of a “look how bad drivers are to me!” blog.
This year I have done twice the miles I have done last year (from January 1st to mid-April) already, but the amount of incidents I have which I’d consider to be outright aggressive, rather than just negligent/distracted, have reduced dramatically. Coupled with the fact that I have been commuting far more (over 50 commutes already, compared to 80-85 all of last year), and commuting is when I have the most incidents, it’s pretty impressive.
Charlotte seemed like a road cycling haven when I moved here, and judging by the amount of cyclists I see I’d still like to believe it. But anyone who’s been here a while will tell you that Charlotte is terrible for cyclists. New construction has been booming the last 10-15 years but very little has been done to roads to help the increase in load; some have said it’ll become the next Atlanta. Drivers are impatient. Speed limits are high. Bike lanes are minimal and most roads don’t have even small shoulders, never mind ones large enough to become a refuge on highly traveled roads.
After my accident last May I was incredibly eager to get back on the road, but the instant I went on my first ride after my physical therapist approved some light riding I was terrified. Only a few miles left me with incredibly tense neck and shoulder muscles and my blood pressure was probably through the roof. I couldn’t stand cars being even remotely near me, and after another near-miss incident in July I swore off road bikes for good.
That lasted a month. I couldn’t stand being off the bike anymore and decided to change my approach to riding. On the multi-laned roads which I commute the lanes are narrow, shoulders don’t exist, and traffic is heavy. For my anxiety’s sake (and safety’s!) began to embrace my right to take the lane and started riding farther into it, sometimes on the right tire track and sometimes directly in the middle (depending on amount of traffic, speed limit, how many blind corners there are, etc.). I thought drivers would be furious and try to run me off the road, but to my excitement I was wrong. Generally the worst that happens is I get a horn blasted at me, but even that is a once every week or two type of thing. Gone is the high-speed buzzing and getting cut off. I’ll take the occasional horn blast or yell any day over that.
Granted, having a backpack while I commute might help because people know I’m going somewhere and not just riding in traffic to piss them off.
While road position is part of the problem, my attitude has been the harder aspect to fix. I started commuting in August, and as the months went on and the miles racked up, my anxiety started to finally lessen. Slowly. But I found that as it did, anger started to come back. I confronted many a driver at a light or a stop sign for passing like a complete asshole. I punched someone’s mirror at a stop sign who threw something at me farther down the road (and immediately regret it). And if I had kept my mouth shut today I likely wouldn’t have been brake checked by that BMW, or even had an argument at all.
I’m working on it.
Traffic in general is a mess, no matter what vehicle you’re driving. Cars are assholes to other cars, bikes are assholes to cars, cars are assholes to bikes. Hell, even on the Booty Loop I’ve witness plenty of bikes that are assholes to other bikes! But I’ve been changing my approach, changing my attitude. Hopefully it’s contagious. I do my best to ride predictably and safely and hope that cars understand what I’m trying to do.
Now after re-reading this post multiple times, I realize I’ve meandered a bit and don’t really have a point or conclusion (hey, I never said I was a writer!). But the best point I can make is that I love bikes, and have always loved bikes, and I do my best to not be the disgruntled and self-righteous cyclist that everyone expects me to be. :)
Vegetarian sloppy joes from the crock pot. Got the recipe from one of those free magazines that comes in the Sunday paper. BBQ isn’t how I’d describe them but they’re still quite delicious (and easy!).
The weather has been fantastic the last few weeks and I’ve put a ton of miles on the bike. It’s in full summer mode now with the Profile Design Aqua Rack installed on the seat post so I can hold four bottles for long rides (which was crucial when I rode my century).
A few weeks back (and about 500 miles ago) I bought a carbon Ritchey fork with a much longer steerer tube so I could jack my bars up more than an inch to help remedy back and neck pain on long rides (and I still have over a quarter inch of steerer above the stem if my back ever gets worse); as a bonus it stiffened the front end a ton which makes high speed cornering more comfortable, something that I noticed immediately on my first ride with it.
I’ve already put 1200 miles on the Sram Force group and I’m quite pleased. Shifting isn’t perfect, but I’m also a self-taught home mechanic so you can take it for what it is.
I’m on track to hit 12,000 miles by this weekend (I crossed over 11,900 this morning), and Sunday marks 5 years since I bought this bike. I’m pretty pumped!
I spent the last three weeks or so flying through the last two Harry Potter books as fast as I could because they were just too damn good to read anything else. Comics have been neglected, and being Wednesday I, of course, just added even more to the pile.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: too much to read is a problem I don’t mind having.