Thursday, September 20, 2007

Bastard of the Day

Today it's personal: the SUV-driving asshat who attempted to turn right in front of me as I crossed Route 59 on the Poplar Creek Trail.

I stopped at the busy intersection of Route 59 and Route 58. I waited for the "Walk" sign and pedaled halfway across Route 59. Then several of Mr. SUV-driving asshat's four-wheeled brethren on Route 58 turned right in front of me, never even looking at me in the crosswalk (and trust me, I'm too big to miss these days). I finally saw a gap and tried to finish crossing the highway before the light changed. Then Mr. SUV-driving asshat tried to turn, hesitated as I also hesitated (I err on the side of caution when I think I might be crushed like a cockroach and left to die in rush hour traffic), then finally let me go as he shouted and gestured toward the walk/don't walk light that was now flashing "Don't Walk," as if that meant I should have retreated to the corner I came from and waited for the next cycle of lights to try it again. I clearly had the right of way, but Mr. SUV-driving asshat seemed to think not (perhaps they should install signs reminding motorists turning right to yield to bicyclists and pedestrians). I wish I had read his license plates, but I was too busy watching his gigantic chrome grill creeping toward my Bike Friday.

Aside from that, I had a pretty nice ride. It was only my third visit to the trail -- the first was for Biking Illinois and the second was rained out before it started by a sudden summer thunderstorm. I did the loop in both directions with a little extra, probably 19 miles total (Bike Friday's cyclometer battery bit the dust years ago and I never replaced it). It was a beautiful afternoon. Many wildflowers (a.k.a. weeds) were in bloom, and everything else was green except the corn. I saw a lot of birds, plus a black snake slithering across the asphalt (and another who wasn't quite fast enough). I could swear the trail wasn't as hilly two years ago, but I know it's just that I was in better shape then (I haven't ridden more than 200 miles or so this year). That's okay; my Bike Friday is set up for touring, so it has plenty of low-end gears.

Aside from going anaerobic too many times and nearly being mashed by Mr. SUV-driving asshat, I had one other mishap. I approached an intersection and realized too late that I wasn't going to get across safely before the light changed. I hit the brakes, and my darn right cleat would not release. So I did what I had to do: I fell over on my side and sprang back up as if nothing had happened, cursing under my breath. At least I didn't fall in the street. It wasn't until I crossed the road that I noticed my handlebars had been knocked askew when they hit the ground. I rode a bit further, fueled by the adrenaline rush of my fall, and then it hit me -- this was one of those moments. I pulled off the trail, straightened the bars, and tightened the quick release (remember I was riding a folding bike) so it wouldn't happen again.

Is it just me, or are suburban cyclists less friendly than they were several years ago? It used to be that the biggest difference between city trails and suburban trails was that other riders would acknowledge me with at least a smile or a nod. Most ignored me today, even when I offered a greeting first (come to think of it, I'm friendlier when I'm on my bike than anywhere else by a long shot). Of course, they were still nicer than Mr. SUV-driving asshat.

1 comment:

Samantha said...

My husband and I think that SUVs should be banned. But if they're here to stay, then they should tax people who have them. Great article and I'm happy your bike trip went well despite "Mr. Asshat".