Monday, June 27, 2005

Boppin' down to Megalopolis

I'm back in the old stomping grounds for a day or two, but I haven't had a chance to stomp on them yet. I do know that some of the old routes are surprisingly intact, while others have mutated alarmingly.

One of my old racing buddies told me a year ago that no one rides into Annapolis anymore. That seems like such a shame for so many reasons. Annapolis streets weren't big enough for the cars of the late 1970s and early '80s, let alone the barges of today. We cyclists used to slip neatly through the tangle. I haven't seen it for myself, but I hear the traffic is a meat grinder now. But maybe Dave just lost his combat edge.

He had no qualms about totally blocking traffic on a ride out onto what used to be country roads. I will claim the space I need, but I try to get along. Not everyone in a car is The Enemy. You have to work with them a little. And why is it worth the confrontation to ride more assertively than necessary on a pleasure ride, but not worth it to use the bike for practical purposes in a place that badly needs to promote that transportation alternative?

I should have brought the fixed gear for the urban assault, but I only had room for one bike and Laurie wanted to bring her Surly. Might as well promote the brand. I brought mine, too.

The bicycle started out as a way for the common citizen to go faster, to cover more ground. It was replaced by the automobile, so now it has come to represent a desire to go slower, to move more deliberately. The speeders would just as soon mow you down in their headlong rush to get to their next important destination.

Cars can go pretty fast in a confined space if they know nothing slower will get in their way, or if they don't care what they do to pedestrians, animals and children that bumble into their path. The ability to go fast confers the right to go fast. Stand aside.

The roadsides were littered with dead deer on the way through New Jersey. The suburban deer has become just a pest and a menace to navigation throughout Sprawlopolis, from Connecticut south. But it's no reason to slow down. Anything slower and softer than an automobile has no business out there trying to mix it up with the Master Race.

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