Saturday, August 09, 2008


Outside the bedroom window I could see the morning fog had light above it. The sun would break through.

I rolled off the bed and levered myself upright to go in search of coffee and food. Once I had something in my stomach I dropped a couple of ibuprofen to take the edge off the creakiness.

As I left the driveway I saw a cyclist approaching from my right, still far off. I pulled out, but rode with no hands, sitting up, arms crossed against the morning chill. I rode that way through the right turn onto Elm Street before lowering myself to the bars as a truck passed me. Seconds later, the pursuing cyclist ambushed me with a loud "How ya doin'?"

"How's it going?" I said. He might or might not have given some stock reply before he grabbed a gear and stomped away.

Great. Congratulations. You caught me and you're blowing my doors off.

I continued to ride at my warm-up pace while the other rider pushed hard on the gears of his Marin road bike. He looked like a commuter, wearing a bulging day pack high on his shoulders. No geeky rack on his bike.

Interestingly, for all the effort he seemed to be putting into it, he wasn't opening the gap too rapidly. Since he hadn't made much of a social overture, I wasn't going to hurt myself to close in and try to get a conversation started.

He kept looking back. I kept looking casual. Every time he looked away from me I dropped a gear and surged forward a little. Every time he looked back I was a little bit closer, but managed to be sitting up. He would look ahead again and push a little harder.

These races are best controlled from behind. I had the biggest advantage because I didn't care if I caught him, but he obviously wanted to stay in front of me. Whether he broke his rhythm by looking back or just pushed too hard because he didn't know if I was gaining, the strain was still going to squeeze his lungs and bump his heart rate up by an extra six or eight beats per minute.

Two miles out I had nearly reached his wheel. Thing is, I didn't want to reach his wheel. But he lagged on the last little hill. We closed the formation in the final curves approaching Route 16.

An SUV had to pass us in the last yards before the intersection. Motor vehicles must be in front of bicycles. Drivers consider it an unalterable law of nature. We all clustered at the stop sign. The SUV peeled out into a dicey gap. The jumpy roadie made the suicide plunge with it. I waited for the sole vehicle coming south before making a leisurely entrance behind it.

The jumpy roadie had opened up 90 yards or so. I spun up a moderate gear and closed the gap, but the lead rider flung out his arm in a left turn signal. There wasn't really any place to go over there. He wasn't lined up with a driveway or street. Before I had long to wonder where he was pointing with that outflung left arm, he cut across the highway to ride down the left shoulder against traffic into an intersection with commercial driveways beyond. The maneuver made no sense. He even had the green light if he had stayed in the proper lane through the intersection. If he wanted to go left, the road was clear enough for him to do it properly. If the road hadn't been clear, he would have been in much more danger riding down the wrong side of it.

What a dope. I didn't know Marin was pronounced "moron." I lost very scrap of respect for him at that point. I doubt if he could understand my disapproving yell. It doesn't really matter. The road will deal with him eventually. Hopefully he won't torpedo me on one of his wrong-way jaunts.

Playing with his head for the first few miles got me up to a quicker pace than usual. I had one of my fastest commutes all season.

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