Cyclists are strange. An old family friend, when referring to these people, used to mockingly ask, “When did you start having to wear tight shorts to ride a bike?”
Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for people exercising and I don’t care what they wear. I exercise quite a bit and it’s actually when I’m running that I get particularly irritated with cyclists, or as I prefer, bikers. And it’s not about their obvious love for spandex, though many would do well to recognize that the 80s are long been behind them. Rather, it’s about attitude.
When I run, I almost always run against traffic. A biker, or a pack of bikers, rides with traffic. When we’re going opposite ways, we’re on the same side of the road.
I suppose that I’m a fool to think that in unfriendly New England, bikers, passing in close proximity to me, would say hello. Sure, I say hello, but from their crotch-killing perches, the bikers just stare at me as though I’m from a different world. No, I don’t expect people in cars to slow, roll the windows down, and holler a warm greeting, but these are people like me, people out to get exercise in the fresh air. Isn’t there some essence of camaraderie?
As soon as I spot the bikers, I can usually predict the likelihood of an ignored greeting. The more spandex, the more aerodynamic the helmet, the less likely a hello will be returned. If they’re wearing a jersey with a cycling club logo on it, it’s more likely I’ll get an intelligent reply from one of the cows I often pass than from the fashionable biker.
But, I’m used to the snubs. What really pisses me off is when they won’t move over. You know, you’ve seen them. These are the people that ride two or three across, taking up half the street. Yet, when a runner is coming the other way, they hug the side of the road with enthusiasm. Numerous times I’ve been running, had a greeting fall on deaf ears, and then been forced off the asphalt by a two-wheeled twit. They act like they’re entitled to all of the road. I imagine them saying, “Oh, little runner, you keep on running, but we’re fancy and we have fancy bikes, so jump off the road when we ride by.” And, not wanting to collide, I do.
Entitlement. They think the road is theirs alone. But, where are they when the mercury drops, when the snow flies? Their trusty rides can’t handle the conditions like my simple feet do. Even when it only rains, their ranks thin dramatically. They must be afraid of that muddy spray that would shoot off their rear wheels and give their spandex shirts unwelcome, racing stripes.
When you think about it, these brazen bikers, when they do venture out, wouldn’t do so well if I weren’t as accommodating. If I didn’t get off the road, they’d probably hit me. Sure, they’d have speed on their side and my right shoulder would feel it when the handlebars hit it. But, I would have a lower center of gravity working for me. After the collision, they’d be launched off their saddles to have head, elbows, knees, and fingers be quickly introduced to the road. I like my chances better.
Are there any cyclists out there who can explain your collective behavior? Are there any runners who have been run off the street?
Photo courtesy of Philms.