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
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