10.22.2003

yesterday I was doing a post work spin on my Kona Humahuma-nuka-nuka-
apoha-ah out on the Mt Vernon trail
I was spinning the single speed gearing around as fast as it could
go, which does not propel the bike all that fast
but manages to give me a pretty solid work out in a very short time
this is how I try to get a four hour ride done in only 45 minutes out
on the bike
the view along the river was epic as usual
and the post work traffic was getting thick, again as usual
I rode out past the airport and turned around at the wooden boardwalk
just before the beginning of Old Town Alexandria
my turn around was to the outside and not on the trail, as I know how
dangerous a blind buttonhook can be
people are always button hooking right in front of me
if only they could repeat after me...
"look before you buttonhook!"
"look before you buttonhook!"
"look before you buttonhook!"
or even better button hook onto the grass and take a look before re-
entering the grass
but my lectures are for another time and another group of people

[that mantra is as close to my heart as "pass bicyclist, don't harass
bicyclists", but this is not for trail users but a subliminal message
that I want to be implanted in people's head, hidden in subliminal
frequencies that could play over their car radios, or perhaps in the
background of the elevator music played at the MVA/DMV so each
licensed driver walked away with an updated license and an updated
sense of respect for the cyclist ((more realistically this would make
for a great red bumper sticker to be placed on STOP signs, using the
word STOP and the sticker reading HARASSING CYCLISTS, and in small
letters...pass cyclists don't harass cyclists))]

the ride was business as usual
there were many people riding too fast
all sorts of people drafting/racing/being all out reckless
very few people were giving any warning to the other trail users
walkers/runners/and other cyclists were all being harassed as much as
being passed
showing each other basic disrespect
all the while runners were stopping at inopportune times and doing
that buttonhook thing that can be so dangerous

knowing how much I hate to be spooked by a rider passing closely
without warning
I was ringing my little frog bell as I passed each other trail user
and often saying excuse me as I felt can often lessen the effect of a
close pass
sure there were some passes that offended a few, but I tried to be as
safe and pleasant as possible while still getting a workout
and when I am quasi-dangerous, I want to at least be pleasant

then when approaching one of the road crossings I was passed by a
women on an old school Bridgestone with mustache bars coming the
other way
then following behind her was a women on a generic department store
bike outfitted with tri bars and other equipment
she crossed the road, over the curb, and onto the trail
soon she realized she would not be able to hold her lane and make the
winding curve without having an head on collision with me
she opted to go straight, off the trail, over the grass, and into the
airport service road never checking to see if a car was coming from
either direction
clearly out of control she went off the curb and got thrown from her
bike
stuck in the tri-bar position, out of reach of her brakes
by this time I was at a standstill watching it all
as she tumbled on the asphalt and the bike crashed riderlessly
against the curb
I went to her aid, as well did another cyclist
she seemed okay and it was clear that she wanted me to retrieve her
friend
I took off spinning, hectically spinning
lucky for me this other rider had slowed down, the maximum speed of
my cruiser is slow
when I caught her she was frightened and excited that her friend was
seriously hurt, which she appeared not to be
we rushed back
the other cyclist was reviewing the condition of her bike
the cyclist who had crashed was back
with everything under control I figured I best be off before I chewed
her out
as she was out of control and could have seriously hurt someone,
namely me!

it was a wake up call
the trails are not really any safer than the streets
and the best place for racing is at the races
one thing I love about doing a race on a Sunday is having a trail
marked off
knowing I can take a turn or downhill fast and not have to worry
about a horse or a dog or a blue haired lady to be coming up the
other way
the likelihood of a cyclist coming the opposite way is rare
and the other riders may be more knowledgeable about courtesy and
safety
or maybe not

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