Friday, July 01, 2005

Megalopolitan Holiday

Laurie wanted to take one more quick ride before we packed the car to drive home, so we set out around 3:30 p.m. Rush hour was already starting.

I'd started every ride the same way, bailing off General's Highway to the left on a small road called Honeysuckle Lane. Cars do use it as a shortcut, but not many.

This time we decided to go down a road on the other side of General's Highway, River Road. It drops down a fabulous twisty descent, for which I discovered I no longer have the sack. I hadn't gone down it in at least a few years, possibly 18, and always on a racing road bike.

Unfortunately, River Road goes toward communities with water frontage. Strings of cars kept whooshing by, too fast for the road. Alone on a racing bike I might have gone fast enough to be able to herd them, but at sedate touring speeds we depended entirely on their skill and generosity. What I used to rate a great training road I would now call only a good training road. The sports drive too fast on the narrow road full of blind curves. If I only drove, I would drive it exactly the same way.

That's the major problem with overpopulation. Unless we make it legal and downright casual to kill each other, we can't help but restrict each other's freedom. The motorists can't blast along as if I'm not there. I can't ride at whatever pace suits me, taking any part of the lane I need. Neither party comes away satisfied.

Rush hour makes drivers impatient, too. But that's when a lot of people have the chance to ride their bikes.

I would try to ride anywhere I lived. But I have also tried to live in places where it's nicer to ride. I moved back to Naptown from northern Virginia because the roads in NoVa were already choked with impatient drivers by 1980. By 1987, the Annapolis area was well on its way to the same crowding. It's all that and more, now.

Ironically, just when the population gets so large that cycling is somewhat unpleasant, the percentage of the population that rides becomes a large enough number to get some attention. "Share the Road" signs are all over. Most drivers appear to try. There are just so damned many of them.

It's good to be home. Summer brings a taste of megalopolitan population density to the Lakes Region, but I just put on my "Screw You, I Live Here" tee shirt and slap them around. It's fun.

No comments: