Ruminations of a Red Dirt Hussy

March 15, 2012

How to avoid becoming Asphalt Butter

Filed under: General — Vadasmaker @ 6:30 pm
Tags: , ,

I know I always say it’s all about me, and that hasn’t changed. I’ll get to me in a minute. First I have to say this: Hey. Cyclists—those of you on the non-motorized variety. You know what? I have a message for you in case you want to use the same road as, oh, I don’t know, cars? Sharing the road goes both ways. I signal. You signal—yeah, you can actually do it manually, and I’m sure the majority of you do. I stop at the red signs that say Stop, you stop at those red signs, too. Somebody didn’t today, and I very nearly turned him into asphalt butter. (And he flipped me off. That wasn’t a biker thing. That was a jerk thing.)

Before you become outraged, please know I’m not picking on you. I used to ride a bike, too, but I wasn’t very good at it, so I quit. But before I did, I obeyed traffic signals and signs even when motorists didn’t. I’ve also driven for ten miles behind groups of people on bicycles traveling well below the speed limit because going around would have been dangerous for all of us.

Here’s where it becomes about me: If I ran over you, whether it was my fault or yours, whether I killed you or just maimed you, I would never get over it. And I’ve got way too many things in my sack of dead cats to include your death or dismemberment.

So ok. Rant over. I’ll go back to making you laugh about how lame I am. These are the reasons I quit riding a bike. First, though, in my defense—it’s my only defense and not a good one either—I never had a bike growing up. When I was five I “borrowed” one from a neighbor’s porch and taught myself to ride. That lasted until the neighbor came out, knocked me off her bike, and chained it to the porch post.

When TBL started riding a few years ago, we thought it might be something we could do together. He bought me a much less expensive bike than his, just in case I didn’t stick with it. Wise move, as you’ll soon see.

We were riding on a nice, hilly path that ran alongside the turnpike. The downside of this trail was that riders had to stop at a number of traffic signals, push a button, and wait (See? That’s how it’s supposed to be done). We were in the last few miles of a 25 mile ride and stopped at the signal. My bike was just a little bit too tall to allow me to put both feet on the ground, so I just put one down. After about thirty seconds, I apparently forgot which leg I was resting on and leaned the other way, with predictable results.

I’m really, really not stupid. I do have a tee-tiny problem with my ability to focus. Read on.

Another time, we were riding on a different path that cut through midtown. We crossed a busy street, and as we set out on the path again, I noticed an elementary school on the other side of a grassy area. The parking lot was filled with cars. Since this was on a Sunday, the presence of all those cars set me to wondering. Why are all those cars over there? I wonder if somebody’s starting a new church? Like we don’t have enough churches. And of course my attention left what I was doing and settled on what I was thinking about. My eyes, of course, followed.

So. You know those barriers meant to keep motorized vehicles off bike paths? They’re about three feet tall, and from the way it felt when I hit one, made out of something really, really hard. I hit it with my knee, flew about ten feet from my bike and landed on my side. I had bruises so deep they didn’t show up for two weeks. To my credit, though, there were three of them, and I only hit the one.

What I finally realized is that obeying traffic rules and wearing a helmet would not help me a bit as long as stuff like that kept happening to me (see how I took the blame off me? I know, right?). And if there is one thing I understand about me, it’s that as I get older, I’m not going to change. I’ll just get more like me than I ever was.

That could get me killed. Even without a bicycle.





  1. It’s a dangerous road out there….


    Comment by you know who — March 15, 2012 @ 8:18 pm | Reply

  2. I understand. I keep buying bikes and helmets and making resolutions to bike all over town and then within a day or two, the bike becomes a coathanger. And I mosey over to the couch and quilt. Or daydream or wonder what is on the yoga DVD that I have never watched.
    Funny post and sad because it is so true..


    Comment by lottie — March 16, 2012 @ 8:31 am | Reply

  3. Your rant is well deserved. When I turned 50 (a VERY long time ago), I decided to go on the famous week long cross state bike event. I trained for long distances, I bought the appropriate safety equipment and I attended all the bike info meetings where the experts gave us rules of the road. And I followed all of them even after I completed the bike tour (I went again for my 51st b’day). But over time I too have noticed all the snotty little bike people with their overpriced 2 wheelers and their pricey bike outfits DON’T follow the rules! They DON’T ride single file, they DON’T stop at lights, they DO cut in front of cars…the whole thing. So I agree: Sharing the road does go both ways. Where these snobby (and they really are) little people get the idea because they’re biking 50-75-100 miles that everyone should genuflect is beyond me. Just another group of groupie elitists who think their sweat doesn’t stink.


    Comment by Norm Rourke — March 25, 2012 @ 5:34 pm | Reply

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