Sometimes you just don’t know where your mind travels on any given day, or how one conversation will cause a thought to pop into your head. Today on FB I posted this picture from last night’s Seahawk game.
I didn’t see this personally, but given that it was a Thursday night game, with a 5:30 kick off, I could:
1) Believe this was true
2) Believe someone was dumb enough to pay it.
In the discussion I pointed out this is a good example (though extreme) of why I prefer to walk or ride to get places in town. My friend let me know she does NOT like riding in traffic at all, which is when I had my realization..Now to be clear, there is a good reason she feels this way. She once had someone try to run her down, which can, and will ruin anyone’s day AND desire to bike.
However, it did make me pause for a second. I think I have finally figured out the key thing that make’s one a cyclist as opposed to a bike rider. (Bike riders like to ride bikes sometimes on trails and residential roads, Cyclist roam far and wide)
OK, yes I know, there are truly many things that make a cyclist.
Slightly brain-damaged: As shown by the willingness to saddle up and bike for hundreds of hours and thousands of miles a year regardless of blazing sun, freezing wind, or soaking rain.
Child at heart: As shown by trying to pop wheelies still over bumps on the road, yelling out loud on down hills, sneaking between gaps of obstacles in the way, and regaining the feeling of freedom we first felt on a bike long ago.
Forgetfullness: As shown by the ability to block out the worst and most painful parts of a hard ride, and doing the hardest routes a 2nd, or yes even a 3rd time!
Being slightly bullet proof in our own minds: Pure and simple, sooner or later we are gonna crash AGAIN. (I say again cuz we have crashed, fallen over, or otherwise ended up on the ground unexpectedly in the past). We know this will happen eventually, and we plan to get up, brush ourselves off, and ride away from any witnesses. Then if need be, when alone, cobble together a band-aid from duct taped and whatever is in your pockets or bag. (Done that).
But, regardless of these items, and getting back to the reason for the post. The number one thing that makes the difference between cyclists and bike riders is the willingness to ride in traffic!
Time and time again, I hear people tell me they would ride more, but cars scare them. Bike trails are fine, but without them, especially on main or busy roads it’s not going to happen!
In my head I get this. I’ve been yelled at, cussed, honked at and had stuff throwed at me (Luckily those in cars seem to be terrible at aiming.) I’ve had Winnebagos pass me so closely (driven by an old guy in a hat I am sure) that I swear I scraped off a layer of paint. I’ve had people pull out and turn left in front of me.
But here’s the thing. Yes these things have happened, and will happen again, but unless you are willing to ride on roads with traffic, you will miss, well 99.999% of all there is to see.
When I cycled the Oregon coast, I was on Hwy 101 most of the time. Sometimes I had a wide shoulder, sometimes I did NOT.
Yep, there were cars, semis, AND the Winnebago I spoke of. Never once though was it scary. I am there to be seen. I keep to the right to make it easy to pass, and, at least here in the Northwest, people are used to us. I kept an eye on traffic, just as I do in a car, but otherwise I didn’t worry at all. Having a mirror is a BIG help!
Chinook Pass is one of my favorite rides, but take a look at the uphill road to get to the top (left side)
The cars were respectful, and I got quite a few thumbs up just for attempting this ride. I have also done Stevens pass, which had faster traffic and smaller shoulders. In both cases, I just kept going and let them pass me. No issues, and now I can say I did it.
Maybe the willingness to ride in traffic goes back to being bulletproof in one own’s mind. Every year (hell every week it seems like) someone does get hit by a car and get’s seriously injured or worse. I am under no illusions that it can’t to me. But working for an insurance company, I know it could just as easily happen in a car.
I am thinking it’s probably a good thing for those with a fear of traffic NOT to ride in it. I’ve seen people like that panic, overreact and cause their own problems. Even if this doesn’t happen, you really can’t enjoy yourself if you are tense and apprehensive the entire time.
For me though, shoot if need be, I’ll even ride on an interstate (which is legal and necessary in certain parts of the state to get somewhere) to get where I want. Why? Cuz I get to see things like this when I do!
Like the wind folks!