As often mentioned in this blog, pretty nearly every day I tool this island from tip to toe on my self-mobile (bike). In all, it’s about 11 miles. There is only one road on Manasota Key (above) and it is a paved, narrow, windy way framed by Lemon Bay to the east and the Gulf to the west. Speed limit is 30-35 MPH; there are no shoulders. Anyway, the ride, though scenic, fragrant and canopied by tropical trees and flowers, has pretty much become rote for me and I hardly notice it any more.
Funny, but hardly a week passes without some motorist trying to flag me down in the middle of the road to ask for directions. When we first moved here I made it a practice to stop and answer what questions I could for any and all. And I was happy to do so.
Mom and Three Kids: “Can you tell me where Blind Pass Beach is?”
Me: “Um . . . yeah, just keep going . . . it’s about a mile ahead. You can’t miss it.”
Two Hot Babes: “Hey, where is the best place to party around here?”
Me: “Hmmmm. . . . My place in five minutes!” (just kidding, Michelle)
Senile Man: “Do you know where a post office is?”
Me: “Over on the mainland . . . at Englewood. But there is a mailbox here up at the roundabout.”
Senile Man: “Where is it?”
Me: “Which one, the post office or the mail box?”
Senile Man: “Post office? Mail box? What are you talking about?
Me: “Oooookay then . . . just remembered that I’m late for a balloon ride. Good luck, and once you get there, remember: Your brake is on the left side and the gas pedal is on. . . .eh . . . Oh, just forget it.”
But any more, when someone tries to flag me down dead in the middle of the road, I do not stop. Nope. First of all, it is too dangerous. Thirty MPH may not be much, but on these narrow curves it is something, especially with so many old people driving and me hanging out there to dry on a bicycle. Also, there is the matter of physics and the problem with momentum. Lost souls looking for help, spot me, the biker, and imagine that I am pretty much the same as a pedestrian; or maybe a slow-moving information center pedaling up and down this island just to aid visitors. What motorists don’t realize is that it takes a ton of work to get a 21-speed bike going after you stop. Now, stopping is not that big of a deal early in a trip, but later, when you are blowing sweat from every pore and sucking wind like a beached sucker fish on the shore, it’s a chore. Thus, much as I hate to seem unfriendly, when someone stops in the middle of the road waving their arm for me to stop, I just blow on by.
I just blow by, that is, except when a couple of swell-looking dames ask for directions; then I always slam on my brakes to help (again, just kidding, Michelle).