Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Think-Fast Commute

In a break from humdrum routine, the motoring public tossed me a few challenges, starting just yards from my driveway.

A white Subaru wagon with Maine plates came up at a reasonable speed, but waited to pass me until we were entering the blind curve from which Elm Street leaves Green Mountain Road. The driver gave me a nice margin. It showed a little poor judgment, but that was mostly between him (or her, I didn't look) and whoever might come winging around that curve the opposite way. I figured the driver would complete the turn somewhat close in front of me, but that I could preserve my momentum and he could go on his way.

But no.

The driver abruptly slowed almost to a stop and swung wide to the left as he entered the turn.

Excuse me, but I am NOT going to dive inside a motorist in a turn. But I was still clipping right along, so I swung left, figuring the driver would hit the gas and get out of my life.

No, the motorist stopped dead in the middle of the road, forcing me into the oncoming lane to finish my turn in a wide, inefficient line. I gestured to the driver with a brushing motion widely recognized to mean "run along, run along," but they just sat there. So I had to sprint in front of them and settle back to the right so they could chug along behind me across the bridge. They couldn't pass because traffic really was coming.

I didn't ever look over at them. Just didn't want to get into it.

Most of the long stretch of highway passed without much excitement. Then, coming into the outskirts of Wolfeboro, I was rolling down the hill to the intersection with 109 East, a four-way crossroads where I (and all the other traffic on Route 28) have the right of way, when a bonehead in front of me stopped dead to wave someone through a left turn, against all legality and good sense. I was doing 30-plus. Fortunately the big standoff, with vehicles coming from all four directions and out of the convenience store, managed to break up enough to give me a clear shot without having to lock 'em up and lay it down.

The big dump truck that sounded like it would give me a comfy draft the rest of the away into town pulled off at a side road before it got to me. Damn. I was tired this morning.

After a quick adrenaline shot wondering if the blue-haired lady in another Subaru was going to pull out of a side street into me, it was "down the chute" on Center Street. I picked up a nice boost from an Electric Department boom truck, so I had nice speed coming into the only really good corner on the whole route. Ah, but the motoring public needed that space, too. A red car pulled partway out of the gas station occupying the inside of that corner, leaving me three choices: shoot in front in a wide slow line, stop completely and wait for the cars to clear the intersection, or dive into the little gap behind the car in a tight line and launch it off the sidewalk into the street beyond.

I'll take number 3 please. Remember, 51 is just 15 spelled backwards. To add interest, the guy in the red car appeared to put it in reverse as I shot into the gap, but I was committed by then. Speed up and jump.

It was kind of disappointing. The curb is low and I didn't get any air to speak of. But I kept my momentum. That means a lot at 51-15. The mind is immature, but the body has wear and tear.

On Main Street, opening car doors alternated with cars pulling out of parking spaces so repetitively that I had to laugh.

For the most part, I was better off than a motorcyclist would be. I could shoot little gaps and hop curbs with a lot less blowback than a motorized cyclist would inspire for those antics, and I didn't have to go at traffic speed.

I would never plan to shoot crazy holes and jump curbs. That's asking for trouble. But when trouble finds me, and the way out is through a rapidly-closing hole or over a manageable edge, I'll go that way and enjoy it.

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