Ever think back to when you were new at something? How much you did NOT know, and invariably how you ended up doing things the hard way? That was me on my first ever organized group ride. It was the Seattle Salmon run. It was the longest ride to date I had ever done, 60 miles through different neighborhoods of Seattle.
I had the turn by turn instructions ready, but either 1) they were incorrect, or 2) I messed up. I think 2 is more likely! At the time, I had never heard, nor did I notice, the Dan Henrys. Those road markings that tell you exactly where to go.
While on a ride, simply keeping an eye on the road will lead you right where you need to go! On quite a few rides I am in an area I have never been before. Without these, the ride would be much less enjoyable. So, when I got an email from Phil, the organizer of Sunday’s century ride, I was pissed off!
When I did this ride last year, it was Auburn Liz’s first group ride. I took it upon myself to point out the Dan Henrys. It was hard, though, as it wasn’t the most well-marked route, and the white paint they used was fading quickly. It was a great “training” ride for sticking to the route. If she could follow this route, she could follow anything and she has.
Fast forward to this year. Orange paint was used, making it much better. It had rained a lot since it had been marked, so at times it was hard to see, but they were there when they were needed, no problems following the route at all.
So there I was about 10 miles from the finish, getting pelted by rain, kinda zoning out, and keeping my head down. I suddenly came upon a giant orange arrow telling me to turn left! Good thing it was there, I could still be traveling north on Military RD otherwise. I’d be approaching Canada about now!
I noticed after that though, that the direction markings were much less consistent. I was familiar enough with the area that it wasn’t a big deal, but I remember thinking, “Wow, they slacked off at the end of the route!”
During the pie feed at the end, I thanked them for the big arrow. Turns out, the lady I was talking to had gotten reports that people were missing that turn. Evidently the marker had washed out. She rushed over, stopped her car on a busy road, put the painted the big arrow, and then jumped back in the car! Saved my bacon I tell ya.
That night I emailed Phil, the rides organizer, to check on the pictures that were taken and to thank him for the great ride. I also mentioned the washed out markers. This was his response:
As I drove the route home to SAG for the end of the ride I stopped to investigate the missing marks off of Military Road. The marks did not fade away, they were covered with black spray paint. Someone covered 30+ marks from Military and 372nd all the way to the left turn on 344th. It really pisses me off that someone would go to that extent because they do not like cyclists, or they just don’t like them in their neighborhood. My Wife and I had spent 11 1/2 hours marking the route but I guess moving forward we now have to go and re-check the route for another hour to make sure it was not vandalized.
And here is where I got mad!! Seriously? There were less than 200 riders on the route, strung out over a 100 mile course. I never saw any group larger the 3 or 4 throughout the day. There is no way they would’ve caused any issues. Plus, Phil did his best to keep us off the main drags. This means cars would have had NO problem getting around us.
I know there are drivers out there that really dislike cyclist. I had one guy up in the mountains yell at me “This is a #$%#$^ highway, get off the road!” But to go to the trouble to get a can of spray paint, drive along the route (I assume drive, as in my mind this person is a cigarette smoking, pot-bellied, big mac eating out of shape jerk) to cover the markings is pure evil.
There were some tired people on this route, wet and miserable. They had just conquered most of 50 – 100 miles (depending on the person) and all they wanted to do was get somewhere warm and dry. Covering these directions would probably have resulted in putting people on much busier and unfamiliar roads. This made it more dangerous and less enjoyable for them.
The evil part of me would be tempted to let the air out of their tires or use spray paint on their car or both. But that of course would be wrong. However, there is nothing preventing me from hoping that they end up being in a car, stuck in terrible traffic and suddenly having to use the restroom NOW! While herds of bikes pass him time and time again!
I know there are crappy cyclist just like there are crappy drivers. But I like to think in most cases people do NOT go out of their way to make other people’s life rough. This person did just that. And I get mad every time I think of it!
Thanks for visiting!