Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Biking Bozos

Yet another biking accident locally, this time up at Port Charlotte. The driver of the car fled the scene even though the mangled biker ran a red light and was clearly at fault.

After close observation these past thirty years I can state w/o hesitation that at least 50% of such accidents are the result of biker error and/or biker stupidity. Take night riding, for example. Any cyclist who wings it after sundown w/o lights or reflectors is an idiot and deserves being kicked from the gene pool. Bikers, I’ve noticed, are also in the habit of travelling in pods of twenty or more. Nice in theory; bad in practice. On narrow, winding roads a line of bikers can stretch out for hundreds of yards. Imagine the frustration of some motorist doing 50 mph, late for work, suddenly encountering some such line snailing along at 20 mph. It is a recipe for death and disaster as the driver anxiously looks for any window of opportunity to pass this slow-moving cavalcade. Additionally, bikers are in the bad habit of riding two and three abreast while they chatter loudly to one another. These people just don’t get it. Last time this old country boy looked it was:

Cars: 19,589,633

Bikes: 0

Although two bikers abreast may be the same width as an automobile passing, most car drivers are only vaguely aware of bikers; I’ve learned over the years that, for the most part, we bikers are pretty much invisible. That biker who dares the middle of the road consistently and “demands” his share of the highway is asking for an early grave (below). And for those chatty bikers who are all into socializing while on a ride, I recommend they pull over and do their networking on a park bench, not on the road. Few things are more dangerous for all concerned than windbag bikers.

This morning on my bike ride, I spied up ahead an old-timer I had met on previous morns. The old dude is originally from Boston, which is how we got to talking one day while resting in a park. Anyway, this gent ambles the length of this island every day on his bike doing maybe 10 MPH; that’s not very fast as bikes go—or anything else, for that matter--but I allow that this is a pretty strong stroke for someone who is age eighty-something. The man is in great physical shape, of course, but mentally he is totally batz.

“It’s a beautiful morning, ain’t it,” I offered as my bike swung up and I pedaled beside him for a few revolutions.

“Huh? Oh . . . How ya doin’? I didn’t see ya (laugh). I get slower and slower. Don’t know how much longer I can keep this up (laugh). My old legs, ya know?”

“Yeah, I hear ya (laugh). It’s really pretty this morning, isn’t it?” I persisted. “Really pretty . . . this road . . . these flowers . . . those. . . . ”

“Oh, yeah. . . . You do pretty good on that yourself (laugh). Your legs look in good shape. There’s this bald guy I see every day. . . . He rides a Trek and goes like a bat-out-of-hell. . . .”

By now, I’d given up on the "beautiful morning." The “bald guy” in question was me (I had my bandana on this morning). Like I said, the old fellow does not make much sense. After a few seconds of this insanity I bid my adieu and putting foot to pedal I pulled away. As I did, I heard the batty biker ask, “Is that a Trek you’re on?”

So many old folks are like that—very sweet, very friendly, very crazy. After a minute or two of talking with them you quickly realize they dwell on a planet far, far distant from your own. No matter your comment or question, your words never quite reach the top floor.

“Ma’am, do you realize your clothes are on fire?”

“Oh, yeah (laughing, looking down). She’s a good dog. I don’t know what I’d do without her. But she wets on the rug a lot. . . .”