Came out of the driveway a week ago for the ride in – as I swung onto the work route, I looked back to see a flamingo (i.e. a road biker with colorful plumage) coming up the street. Quick calculations – the only reason someone would come that way is if they were running my route.
Sure enough, when I got to the bottom of the hill at Merritt and slowed for the stop (it’s a blind intersection), I could see the guy leaning into the turn behind me, not even looking. When I got to the spot where the road T’s and I turn right, I suddenly saw a shadow coming down the left side. So, yeah, if I’d gone left instead of right, bent bikes and road rash for everyone. He rode down my left side, overtaking me in the turn – an old guy (looks like “Uncle Martin”) and pops me a “Good morning.” And off he whirled, probably a smug 60-year old AARPer, slowly pulling away (granted, my touring bike is heavy, what with fenders, gear and computers slung all over it. And he’s out in his aquamarine racing garb in twilight without so much as a taillight, the old nub).
And that’s why I hate riding with other people.
Either they go too fast and you feel blown out, or they go too slow and you feel like you are towing an anchor. Why cyclists ride together, I can’t tell you since its all about competition (speed and distance). Put two cyclists on a road and the one in back will have something to aim at and will overtake and pass, only to be overtaken and passed in return. I, myself, have swapped places with one cyclist four times on the Cady Way Trail.
Today an article in the Sierra Club’s mag mentioned the antics of cycle-commuters running into San Francisco. I’ve seen them myself in London, running along Bayswater road past misty Hyde Park, one after the other. I’ve always wished more people would commute by bike. Me, I hardly see cyclists while peddling to work in bike-hostile Orlando. But as I watched the flamingo pull away, it hit me – maybe I like it better that way. Maybe I like rolling down 1792 without another bike around. No competition, no distraction, just me and everyone else, one bike and a thousand cars.
I parted with the duffer (he was 150 yards ahead and accelerating) and took my little short cut over to 1792. Popped out behind another racing bike, this one with a young kid with Ibuds in his ears. He wasn’t pushing it and of course I rippled past him, dropping cleanly back into the path and keeping the speed up (so he wouldn’t overtake) for the next few miles. And I was very aware of the little burst of pleasure I got while overtaking.
A little later, while sitting in the left turn lane at Lake for the leg west to I-4, gramps hummed past on the right side of the road. I figured he’d wandered into Mead Park and around that way, which had put him behind me again.
So I won.
I hate this.