Thursday, February 26

New Commute

Ok, I decided instead of riding the 20th route in the mornings I am going to start riding this route (26th). It's only slightly longer, and for a combination of reason took me the same amount of time as my "normal" route:

Tuesday, February 24

ARG!!!

It must be a full moon. I haven’t checked yet, but I just know it must be. So Obnoxious Cretin almost flung himself suicidally against my car last night…this morning I rode in to work along my normal route. I was cranking along, a good pace, feeling good and after I crossed Wadsworth headed toward Kipling another cyclist was ahead of me. I watched to see if she’d take the “bike path” or stick to the road.

Up until recently I had always stuck to the road myself, it being smoother and less horrendous than the “bike path” which parallels 20th between Garrison and Hoyt.

But then since I have started riding to work again I have mostly ridden on the “bike path” because I am usually lagging bad by the time I get to that point on my ride and I don’t want to be creeping along at 8 mph in traffic.

But since I was cranking strongly west this morning and another cyclist was in front of me I thought I might just go back to the old way and stay in the lane. Its smoother, doesn’t rattle your teeth out and the traffic isn’t usually bad at all. As a matter of fact, I have seen quite a few other cyclists on that section of my ride and they have always been in the road, and not on the “bike path.” The “bike path” is rough asphalt, poorly maintained and has roots protruding through it, sections that are little more than dirt and it crosses each intersection behind where vehicles habitually stop. It is dangerous, rough and hardly a feasible option.

The other cyclist stuck to the road, so I followed suit. It made my decision easy, especially since I’d rather be on the road anyway.

Once I passed Garrison a long line of cars passed me. Of the four that passed right together at least two were so close I could have seen my reflection in their sideview mirrors. After the last car passed and there was a gap I moved into the lane. I positioned myself 1/3 from the right edge of the pavement and I held on tight. Taking the Lane is a form of protection when motorists are behaving irresponsibly. But then I saw the shadow of a bus behind me. And there was a long string of cars coming eastbound in the opposing lane.

Unfortunately there was no where for me to go, and I wasn’t going to squeeze back over to the right so the bus could push me the rest of the way off the road so I held my ground.

Well, when a break came in opposing traffic the bus passed…close enough that I could touch the side with my arm bent, and he was angling across my path…cutting me off. I slammed my fist against the side of the bus as his rear wheel passed and he almost pushed me off the road. I yelled something incoherent and fixed the bus number in my mind (5261, route 20) and the time (7:20) and shook my fist, hoping he would see me.

As the bus got ahead of me some jerk on the other side yelled out his window: “USE THE BIKE PATH!”

My rage boiled over. It was really fortunate that no one else passed me for awhile. I was MAD. I was beyond mad.

The bike path is so rough that those drivers wouldn’t want to drive their cars on it, but they’d expect me to use it on my skinny tires and non-suspension. They’d probably be the ones that would pull all the way up, blocking the “bike path” at intersections and they obviously had no understanding of the laws concerning cyclists and motorists (THREE FEET!).

Luckily I had no other encounters with careless drivers. I have seriously debated writing RTD and the Lakewood police department to report the incident. I’m fairly certain nothing would come of it, but I think just reporting the incident would be enough.

I’d also like to find out who’s responsible for maintenance of that bike path and write them as well. 20th is by far the BEST option to ride from Denver to Golden short of riding the Clear Creek Trail (which is 30 miles as opposed to 15). If the route along 20th is going to be advertised as a “bike route” then it should be maintained as such with a better surface, better street crossings and regular maintenance.

I know, I know…I chose to ride that route, but that does not change the fact that motorists are supposed to (by law) give cyclists 3’ of space and that if they hit me they would still be responsible. I don’t understand what ails people.

Monday, February 23

Obnoxious Cretins

Ok, this isn't about a cyclist, or about biking really at all (except for the second part) but since I thought the Obnoxious Cretin was a cyclist I guess that's why I feel I should include this here.

Tonight I was traveling south on South Logan. I reached out building and had noticed that Mandy was behind me. I knew she would block traffic behind so I could parallel park. It's crazy on Logan trying to parallel park around rush hour. No one slows down, no one gets over to give you room, obnoxious cretins in SUVs almost take you and your door out as they scream past, obviously exceeding the speed limit.

So I was glad to have her behind me, stopping traffic that would not normally be stopped.

So I started to ease back into the meager space between two vehicles and I saw a light, a single light barreling between Mandy and the parked car next to her. I thought it was a bike, so I hit my brakes, but then the OBNOXIOUS CRETIN ON A MOTORCYCLE blasted between me and the car next to me.

If I hadn't stopped, thinking the guy was a cyclist I would have blocked him, he would have hit me from behind and it would have been his fault.

So congratulations genius, you made it! Barely...

PART II

Yesterday we were on our way home heading NW along Speer toward Logan. I could see up ahead a flashing red LED bike light in the left lane of Speer. I couldn't believe a cyclist was riding in the lane of traffic on Speer as opposed to the wide sidewalk or the Cherry Creek Trail.

Now, I'm not a big sidewalk rider. I don't unless the sidewalk is slash bike path or unless it does not make sense to ride in the road (like on Speer) or I've got the kids along a busy road.

So as I approached Logan I saw the guy turn onto Logan and then stop at the red light at the SE bound side of Speer.

I pulled up behind him and we waited for the light to change. I decided I would pass him as soon as the light changed where the road was wide (and since there was nothing coming northbound on Logan) and as it changed yellow on Speer he started across. I went when the light turned green, tried to get off fast so I could get around him, but I gave him a wide berth, plenty of room.

But after he was across Speer he veered to the right into the parking lot there and HE FLIPPED ME OFF.

I'm still not sure why. I never got close to him, I didn't gun my engine, I gave him much more space and consideration than I am used to getting on my bike. And when he flew the bird I wasn't even abreast of him, I was still behind him and he had never even glanced over his shoulder to look at our car.

I then noticed the tattoo on the back of his calf, his messenger bag and knit hat.

He wasn't riding a fixie, but he had the ragged attitude that fixie riders dream of having.

Still not sure what I did...

Saturday, February 21

Mr. Mountain Biker

On my peak bagging adventure today I came across a guy along Raleigh Peak Road.

I was dressed for hiking, not riding, wearing my sticky rubber approach shoes, button up Columbia shirt and my fuzzy hat instead of a helmet. I definitely looked like a noob or a gumby for sure. Didn't care at all...I was bagging peaks.

I had cut cross country from Colorado Trail to RPR because I really wanted to be on the road instead of the trail. I hit the road a few yards from a buy with a full suspension MTB and he was pumping furiously on his tire.

"Need some help?" I asked.

He looked up and replied: "I've got a slow leak."

He pumped a few more strokes and then added. "This is my second pump in two rides and this one has broken too."

I walked toward him slipping my pack off. "I've got a pump."

He sort of half heartedly looked up and said, "It's probably not set up...do you have...Presta valves?"

"Yeah." I replied.

He sort of stood and started looking intently at the ground but threw me a glance too late as he said: "Usually more serious cyclists will have Prest...uh." And he cut off.

I just grinned.

He was still looking for the part that had come out of his pump, and I happened to see it.

"Here you go." I said as I handed it to him.

"Thanks." He replied without meeting my eye.

After a minute or so he finally said: "I guess I will use it...while you're right here."

"Oh," I said, realizing he meant my pump, "OK!"

I dug it out of my pack and handed it to him. He pumped furiously for a minute or so and handed it back to me with a thanks. We had exchanged a little more small talk before both of us got on our bikes and headed the same way, out toward Raleigh Peak. I hung back a little to let him, the "more serious cyclist" go on ahead.

On the third hill I passed him as he weaved all over and within a few minutes I realized I had left him far behind.

Seriously...

Sunday, February 8

Attack of the Clones

Saw a couple fixie clones on the way home from the park this afternoon. Identical dark, stiff jeans rolled up to the same point on the calf, messenger bags, "cool" hats and of course...each were riding a fixed gear bike. The guy (maybe both were guys, hard to tell) had the Bleeding Heart Liberal scruff on his face too.

I love how individuality is most often expressed by conforming to the most recent formula for cool.

I had to chuckle.