7.23.2005

another soldier down
it is a somber morning for many
more for some than for others
lives have been changed
futures have been altered
children have lost a father
a woman has lost her lover and her friend
somewhere a mother and father have lost their son
a cyclist will never ride again

I did not know Steven Gordon
I will never get to know Steven Gordon as he is no longer around to meet

Steven Gordon?
I am him and he is me
he was one cyclist
he is all cyclists
he is any cyclist that rolls on the street risks suffering the same fate
be that rider a racer, a commuter, a courier, a weekend warrior, or a child headed to the neighborhood pool
something needs to be done
behaviors need to change
an education needs to be instilled
car driver's need to understand the potential dangers of their actions

would a warning sign every 10 yards on the road side aid in making things safer?

WARNING: BICYCLIST AHEAD
SPEED LIMIT 25MPH
DO NOT PASS ON BLIND TURNS
BIKE ROUTE ON ROADWAY
CURVES AHEAD
SHARE THE ROAD

apparently not... many of these signs already exist
these signs do nothing to alter car driver's behavior

perhaps an IQ test should be administered rather than a driver's test?
maybe the Death Penalty for wreckless driving rather than a few points on one's license?

something needs to be done
something drastic

yesterday I went for a post work ride on my lead sled; Jamis Nova Cross Bike (at least 5 years old)
went up the Capitol Crescent Trail at a leisure pace to get some parts at the City Bikes shop in Chevy Chase
while saying hey to some of the folks at the shop I could not help but to be drawn to the projection screen playing that day's stage of the Tour de France
the screen was like a vortex drawing me in
I left the shop with Phil Liggett's voice echoing in my head

down the gravel Capitol Crescent Trail onto Beach Drive towards home I felt a little Tour inspired RUSH
with cyclist collecting at my side I waited for the Red Light at East West Highway to turn Green
like a racer at the line I stood poised and ready
the light turned green and I was off
with no concern of the actions of the other riders I raced ahead
at a good clip I cruised down Beach Drive towards home
motored up the small climb and the through the stop sign
dropping down the hill at a solid pace
yet not pushing it down the hill as it proves nothing to go fast down hill
the trick is to go fast up hill
once on the flats I held the momentum of the hill
unsure of my speed I felt secure that I was not far from the 25 MPH Speed Limit
maybe a little more
maybe a little less
yet within a reasonable standard deviation

a few cars collected behind me
following close and looking to make an aggressive pass
the first car behind me pulls out along side of me prematurely
nearly having a head on collision with an on coming car
I ride closer to the center of my lane in an effort to keep them from passing on the blind turns
this protects me and protects them from themselves
as the road straightens and passing becomes an option for following cars I glide closer to the edge
yet not too close as the road gets a little choppy as it is riddled with pot holes and debrie
one by one the cars zip past me
each car aggressively returning the lane right in front of me
it seems that none of these drivers are alert to the stopped car ahead
their speed on the pass makes no sense with stopped traffic ahead
with a left turning vehicle ahead I measure the passing space on the right hand side of the road
none of these drivers have given me any space to pass on the right
so much for SHARE THE ROAD
I am feeling punk
I am going for the hole shot
I am going to ride the tube
there is not much space
but I am going for it just the same
with no more than 20 or 30 yards ahead of me one last car sneaks in between me and this line of cars
the red SUV sees that I am not breaking speed
this SUV sees that I am going to shoot the small gap to the right of stopped traffic
I slow my pedaling
tap the breaks with a speed check
make a measure of my path
I am going to go for it
I am going for it with good speed
believe it or not the driver in the red SUV pulls his truck over the small curb onto the grass
so his vehicle is obstructing my ability to pass on the right
in a panic I pull my brakes
forced to come to a complete stop behind this short line of cars

then show some restraint
usually I would give someone the finger or a little lip
but I am trying to live for tomorrow
this driver has show that they are less than rational
they are aggressive and obnoxious and clearly not considerate of my safety or my rights
no need to learn how aggressive or obnoxious they are willing to become
so I keep it to myself
the car in the front of he queue makes its left
then all the cars move forward
I start up again never to catch these drivers again
adrenalin is pumping
I take the last miles at an anger induced pace
hatred is strong
blood is boiling
legs are pumping

then Phil Ligget enters my head again
the cars that created this anger are gone
gone from my view
gone from my mind
my legs are spinning at a fast rate
I slow as I make a polite run of the four way stop
no care about the officers getting in and out of their cruisers ahead at the Park Police station
they do not PROTECT OR SERVE ME
their laws do not apply to me as they do not protect me
where are they when I need them
each day thousands of cars speed dangerously past their station
each day cyclists are passed dangerously close and dangerously fast
HARASS and TICKET seem more appropriate than PROCTECT AND SERVE
I am taking what is mine
as nothing is given to me

the road is a slight grade downhill as I pass he Park Police office
this stretch along side the creek is a beautiful winding road
a tree canopy engulfs the road
a rushing creek flowing with the waters of the afternoon storm runs parallel to the road to the right
in the distance I see another rider
Phil Liggett enters my head speaking louder as I pedal harder
I am the one man CHASE.... the rider ahead is the BREAKAWAY
not sure what has become of the Peleton
I focus and reel him in
effortlessly I pass him at a rate where I am sure that he will not try to match
with an audible and a nod I pass safely on his left and am on my way
banking the turns with some speed and some caution
as the skinny tires of the cross bike never give me the confidence I need on the turns

from Beach I take a left on Park Road
no left turn 4-6:30
it is 6:31
I take the left aggressively past a car waiting to take a left in front of a police car
my pace drops as I hit the hill
this road is a mess
forced to take the whole lane to stay out of the pot hole ridden side of the lane
I block the car that just passed
it is not safe for them to go around me at this point of the climb
curious if the cyclist will over take me on the climb as my speed is less than impressive
I also think if officer friendly redirected his route to give me some instructions as to how to behave on the road
I roll forward
several cars make agressive passes
the road flattens as I cross the Park Road Bridge
then the road climbs again
I pass my house and at the light I pass a few of the cars that just passed me
the light turns green just as I hit it
I finish the Park Road Hill and head home
made it home alive again
another day of combat on the streets

it can be like going to war out there
when it shouldn't be
again my source of release has become my source of frustration

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