zoethe: (bike)
I almost hit a cyclist with my car last night in Lakewood. Why? Because he was riding on the sidewalk, and shot out into the crosswalk from behind parked cars just as I was turning right. He had the walk light, but he was in the blind spot caused by the pillar between my windshield and the passenger-side door, and I simply didn't see him. Fortunately, my passengers saw him and yelled for me to stop. We were all shaken by the close call.

Following that, we were walking on the sidewalk and almost got hit by cyclists three times. They weren't riding recklessly, they were just riding on busy sidewalks, and trying to weave around pedestrians.

This would all have been avoided if they had all been riding on the street where they belonged. It's great seeing so many more bikes out there, but the education of both motorists and cyclists needs to continue. I'm seeing more bikes, yes, but I'm seeing a lot of them on sidewalks, which is dangerous to pedestrians and dangerous to the cyclists.

Sidewalks were okay for bikes when they weighed 40 pounds, had only one gear, and traveled about 8 miles an hour. Now, I can easily be flying along at 15 miles and hour, and I'm not a very fast cyclist. I know people who regularly ride about at 20+ mph.

Do you really want that barreling down on the small children playing in your yard? On your grandma?

Additionally, cars pulling out of side streets or onto the aprons of driveways are not going to be prepared to deal with a bike shooting toward them at 15 mph. Most of my close calls have been caused by the times I foolishly rode on the sidewalk and almost collided with the side of someone pulling up to the intersection from a parking lot. Bikes simply move too fast to be safely on sidewalks.

I'm tempted to counter-program the people who honk at me and yell for me to get back on the sidewalk. I'm tempted to honk and yell at sidewalk cyclists and tell them to get in the street where they belong.
zoethe: (bike)
Today was the first true long-distance ride in my training: riding out to Vermillion, Ohio, and back, a 60-mile trip. Erin, who has now signed up for Pedal to the Point and is planning to undertake this crazy ride with me.

We chose today because the weather forecast was for cooler temperatures, and in fact the worst of the heat did break last night. We planned on a 7am departure, riding along the shore to Vermillion, where we would stop for brunch before turning around and coming back.

But before we left, I wanted to make sure that there would be something for dinner this evening. And I knew that I wasn’t going to be in the mood to start cooking something after 60 miles of biking. So last night I got a nice roast out of the freezer and this morning I got up at 6 and chopped onion and garlic, then seared the roast, sauteed the aromatics, and added broth for a potroast.

Erin and I got on the road at about 7:30. The ride out was going well, but we got a little confused in Lorain we suddenly found ourselves getting cheers and encouragement from the people along the street. I mean, Lorain is certainly a friendly town, but this seemed a bit extreme.

It turns out that we had biked right into the middle of a triathlon in which the biking segment was well underway. So well underway, in fact, that we appeared to be stragglers in dire need of encouragement. We had no choice, really, but to keep biking along, returning the smiles of our supporters as bikers in sleek jerseys, leaning heavily into their drops and also giving us a sideways glance of pity.

When we started running into cops who asked if we’d taken a wrong turn, we realized how pitiful we appeared to everyone. But when we reached the turnaround, we were only a short distance behind the last turners. We waved off the last of the helpful police, explaining that we were on our way to Vermillion.

The rest of the ride out was uneventful. What I hadn’t taken into account was how quiet Sunday morning is in Vermillion. We managed to find one little place open and got some breakfast.

Then we started back. Into a headwind. This is when the fun started draining out of the day.

We eventually made it back, tired, sweaty, legs hurting, and pretty much beyond moving. Now dinner is about done, thanks to the addition of veggies. And I am very glad I took the time to start dinner this morning!
zoethe: (Default)
I felt sick and tired leaving the office today, but a warm breeze played with my hair as we walked out the door. The breakover has arrived and spring weather is here. Jeff put the top down on the Beemer. The sunshine made me sleepy and calm. I got home, ate dinner, sat down at the puter (no Ferrett tonight--off in Ann Arbor).

The sun glare on the screen made me squint. Sunset out the western window. I thought about my bike.

Too late to ride, really. Sun is moving toward the horizon, and twilight is pretty brief. I should wait, I decided as I walked out to the garage.

The front tire was really flat. Well, definitely want to take care of that before Saturday! There's a bike shop only half a mile or so away. I put on my helmet and climbed aboard and cruised delicately on that flat tire, easing over curbs and watching for rough sidewalk. By the time I got there the sun was definitely sinking below the horizon. As I pressed the air spigot against the stem I realized that I needed to go right back home. But even as I said it, I knew that when I got back on the bike I would be turning right instead of left. Rode down through the little shopping district, past scents and sights that I miss in the car. Turned up past the grocery and rode along the rim of the canyon. (Even I was not foolish enough to venture down there in the gathering gloom when raccoons and possums waddle forth. It's not an Anya-like terror of lagomorphs or rodentia, but they can be hard to spot and hitting one would be disastrous all around.)

Got past the part with the view and into the part with the traffic. From here there are two barriers to my return home: the canyon and I-90. I could just ride with traffic and come around, but where's the fun in that? I turn onto a neighborhood street that doesn't have a "No outlet" sign.

When I was in junior high school I used to miss the bus on purpose so I could make the 4-mile walk home down the increasingly narrow and wild back alleys of 8th Street. I was pretty much guaranteed at least one adrenaline-pumping encounter with a dog, but I braved it anyway. The final section of alleyway was an almost vertical cliff with a steep and slippery dirt trail. The whole four mile walk was about scrambling down that trail.

So the fact that I love finding he back way into things, the back road method of getting somewhere, means that my weaving through school parking lots and walkways behind stores was the best part of the ride. It was only an hour, but it changed the whole day.

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zoethe

September 2012

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