On the road

There are times when I'm disgusted by road riders.

Doing some time behind the wheel, I'll stumble upon a swarm of lycra in various shades of neon. Riding four or five abreast, the cyclists make no effort to form a single file. Instead, I'm forced to bend, dropping the car into the sub-20 mph realm and waiting a hundred yards before I can finally get around. Usually, there's no wave and no gratitude, only helmets shaking side to side.

Two weeks ago, I had my first road bike run-in of 2004. Granted, it was nowhere near the intensity of chancing upon a mid-summer Tuesday night group ride. But the small collection of riders paid no attention as I jockeyed for a safe passing position. After I narrowly got around, none of the riders even looked up.


Now that I've done a little venting, I can also tell you that last Sunday, I took my road bike out of the garage, snapped on the lycra, hooked up with a couple friends and pedaled up the valley toward Tamarron. You see, I'm also completely enamored with cycling on the road. Most days of the week, I pedal my commuter bike roughly 12 miles, and on weekends, I'm often on my road bike exploring different stretches of road and highway.

And I confess that I have been that oblivious guy too far on the inside of the white line. I'm pretty sure it's never been deliberate, but occasionally I get so spaced out chasing asphalt that I don't hear the car behind me. When it finally makes the painstaking pass, I always do my best to give thanks with a wave. Sorry, but I'm not getting a mirror.

I've also been the guy with the dubious distinction of being hit squarely between the shoulders by an empty bottle. And over the last few years, I've seen more than a few middle fingers and had a few souped-up trucks decide they wanted to race me in close quarters. I can tell you first-hand that there is no more frightening feeling than having a dump truck, semi or Winnebago pass 10 inches from your left ear while doing upwards of 60 mph. And just as easily as I can relate my frustration with getting stuck in my car behind the group ride, I can relate my adventures pulling my 1-year-old daughter around La Plata County in a Burley trailer last summer. The magic of the ride tends to fade a little when a Dodge Power Ram decides to get as close as possible to the bike pulling the large, bright yellow trailer.

Chalk it up to a different kind of training, but I've come to expect that mouthful of exhaust, that car that just doesn't see me or the motorist that feels I'm using more of the road than I deserve. Likewise, before I climb behind the wheel of the car and venture down 203 or 250, I expect to come across that rider who feels he is performing at too high a level to use the side of the road.

After all, piston and pedal have a long history of local disagreement. As we move toward this and future seasons, they will continue to have a hard time finding middle ground on the roads of La Plata County.

However, whether we travel by bike, car or both, this is the world we all live in. And as temperatures continue to climb, there will be more and more lycra cruising around the Durango area. In spite of claims that Durango is a great bicycle Mecca, it is also very much a car town, and traffic is showing no sign of letting up.

And because I ride my bike and also drive, I'll continue to try to straddle that great divide with a little grace. I'll happily grit my teeth and keep my finger to myself as that truck carrying a "wide load" to the jobsite whizzes past my bike at high speed. And I promise that I'll lay off the horn every Tuesday this summer, even if I am stuck behind the group ride at 8 p.m. on my way back into the office.

-Will Sands




News Index Second Index Opinion Index Classifieds Index Contact Index