Saturday, March 06, 2010

Winter's Toll

The creatures that die from winter's assault often do it at the threshold of spring. The weather may have become milder, but food is still hard to find. Each day closer to easier conditions still makes the animal a day weaker.

Cyclists who get fat and slow over the winter continue to get fatter and slower until the very day they begin riding again.

This has been my worst winter for physical conditioning in 30 years. My training regimen has consisted of one-handed curls with too many mugs of coffee, staring moodily out the window, and bad fiddle playing. Really bad fiddle playing, in case you think I'm just being modest. Somehow, the idea of learning to play the damn thing from a very late start in life has seized my interest. Many things encroach easily on the time once set aside for the weight bench, indoor ski machine and rollers.

We've shortened Sunday hours at the shop so I can fit a commute into daylight. Because so much of my route is on dark, hilly, rural highways I have not bothered to challenge the concerns of my loved ones by riding the commute in the dark too often. However, this schedule change will help me get several more rides before Daylight Relocating Time starts next Sunday. At that point only ice and snow will stop the commute. Those are hardly unlikely, even in a shabby winter like this one. We shall see.

I always have to retrain the motoring public to watch out for smaller road users during this part of the season. I'm considering getting a jersey that says, "honk if you love my middle finger." At least that way they've been warned.

I do try to restrain the digital reflex, since it doesn't really help. I'll really have made it to a higher plane when I no longer get pissed off at all. I can't imagine that happening very soon, but maybe if I cut back severely on the caffeine...

It's really weird to have early March look this much like early April. I've ridden in the snow in late May, so winter could draw a bead on us at any time. Meanwhile it's time to crawl out of the den as much as possible.


Anonymous said...

Flipping the bird is the best way to keep up foreign relations.

Steve A said...

IMHO, a five fingered wave is more likely to have an effect of making the perp change its future behavior instead of feeling righteous.

cafiend said...

I've tried a lot of different responses to The Horn. It doesn't happen often on my route. We're all mostly regulars except in the summer, when the population swells with people "from away." I've actually gotten pretty good at showing no reaction at all, or responding with an exaggerated shrug. That wouldn't work in heavy traffic.

I've always wanted to be able to throw lightning bolts. Not deadly ones, just a flash and a bang, leaving a soot mark where they hit. Engineers, work on that. Imagine the response of a motorist who feels smug and superior harassing a cyclist. Wa-bang!

Steve A said...

Actually, an "open carry" law and a 357 magnum strapped across the cyclist's back would probably eliminate aggressive motorist honks, via a perceived change in the risk-reward ratio. I think cafiend would agree this would beat the pants off of the lightning bolt development effort. No need for high tech!

I get honked at, nowadays I wave to acknowledge I heard the honk. I continue to ride how I was riding, and am less likely to pull over than if I had been treated as an equal on the road by the motorist. On my route, honks don't happen a lot, which really indicates that it is only the extreme "outer fringe" of motorists that engage in such behavior.

cafiend said...

I had an extremely pleasant ride through Annapolis with a machete slung across my back. I considered adding it to my normal kit, but decided the gendarmes might not be amused.

More recently I rode with a very realistic BB gun because I was dealing with a pack of undisciplined dogs on a narrow road where I had to deal with multiple target vectors and needed rapid fire. A water bottle or pepper spray wasn't going to do it. These playful pooches had a hunting pack going. After traversing their territory I would emerge onto the state highway with the gun holstered in plain view. Again I got plenty of room from passing motorists.

The down side of carrying a weapon is that someone might use it as an excuse for escalation. With no witnesses on a lonely road they could say you drew first.

RANTWICK said...

I waved to acknowledge a honker directly behind me this morning and the bastard nearly ran me off the road. No camera today, of course.

I am thinking of mounting an old, broken camera facing the rear... cams have a calming effect too.

cafiend said...

Any gesture could be mistaken for a challenge by the right lunatic. A guy pulled a gun on me when I was driving near Clearwater, Florida, years ago, because my passenger gave him a jaunty "thumbs up" sign at a stoplight. It obviously rubbed him the wrong way. Fortunately he was only interested in a little drive-by criminal threatening, not actual assault or murder.