As a cyclist, it really hits home when I read headlines like ‘Italian cyclist dies in training crash‘. Why? Because it could have been me.
I bought my beloved road bike back in May 2013 (<3 my Trek Lexa) after 4 years of indoor cycling and a year and a half or so spent on my old childhood hybrid whenever I would visit my parents. Seeking the ability to climb hills easier and ride at a faster pace (and a bike light enough to carry into my apartment), I took the leap into road cycling and haven’t looked back.
The satisfaction obtained after completing a 25, 30, or 45 mile ride; the fresh air and wind in your face; feeling the sun on your back; the strength you feel building in your entire body as you push up that [what didn’t look like a] hill; the post-ride feeling that you are an amazing, strong athlete that you never thought you could be… these are the reasons why biking is one of my favorite things to do.
For me, a perfect day would be one filled with blue skies (at the perfect temperature), that included both a morning long ride and a leisurely (but still athletic) kayak ride.When I’ve envisioned my future in the past, that future contains a SUV with bikes on its back and kayaks on the roof while I go off on a weekend trip with my significant other. Other girls dream of their weddings or their kids, but I dream of my active weekends.
At this point in my life, I’m no longer waiting for someone else in order to achieve my dreams. So I now have that bike on the back of my car, but the whole kayak-on-the-roof is a little difficult alone so that one can wait! My kayak lives elsewhere, so I still get convenient, frequent access.
Despite all of these positives, there are downsides to being a road cyclist. And a lot of backlash.
I frequently hear and read people bitching about “those terrible cyclists”, “bikes shouldn’t be allowed on the road”, “I just want to hit one of them with my car”. Now let me clear something up: I have also complained about walkers, runners, and cyclists who do not follow the rules of the road.
Runners and walkers, you should be using the sidewalk OR walking on the road IN THE OPPOSITE DIRECTION OF TRAFFIC. I can’t tell you how often I see people not following this rule. There’s one person in particular that really pisses me off when I see them on my drive to the gym at 5:15 in the PITCH DARK who runs on the wrong side AND wears dark clothes! No, no, and no!
As often as runners and walkers piss me off, well cyclists do too. When driving through the city they’re weaving in and out of cars and not obeying red lights. In the suburbs they’ll sit two abreast on a busy road (though I can think of some runners I see frequently who do this as well), or ride after dark with no lights and dark clothes (this is, most frequently, non-athletic bikers – like kids).
But you need to understand something: not all cyclists are out to disregard the rules of the road or create a hazard for drivers. I also need you to understand the number of times I have almost been hit by a car while obeying the law.
To portray this, here are 20 thoughts that go through the head of a cyclist (or at least through my head on my long ride on Sunday)! I’ll add to this as I think of more. Warning: contains profanities.
- I hate this [side] street. This is where I slammed into that parked car three years ago and destroyed my knee. Man I wish it warranted surgery… I’m so sick of it STILL not being healed! Also… still embarrassed, so let’s get off this street quick.
- Darn. Stop light. Okay, position your foot on the pedal just like that so you can start up quick as soon as it changes to green, also so you don’t piss off the line of cars behind you. Hmm a little too far, re-adjust quick! Green! Alright, ready, wait for the car ahead to move a little more… okay, go!
- Hmmm I need another car to appear because I can never trip the light at this intersection. Score, here’s one coming!
- Jeez! They really need to repave this road… like yesterday. Pothole galore! Wait, did they really just patch up their road with a gazillion of those black strip things? UGH they are NOT smooth and this hurts my butt! This is dangerous! If I get hit I’m suing this stupid town.
- Shit! Damn it person, I could feel the heat from your car! Back off! Was that really necessary to drive that close when you absolutely 100% could have pulled further to your left???? Why do people always do that!!??!!??!!
- Shoot! Busy road and so many potholes! Okay focus. Car, car, car, bump, pothole, car, car, pedestrian, pothole, pothole, pothole, pothole, car, I see a shadow… do you think there’s a pothole under it? Nope. Phew!
- Damn it, everyone thinks I need to be so cautious and watch out for cars… but do they realize I’ve got to look out for people, animals, bumps, and potholes, too?!? If I hit one of those potholes, it’d be just as disastrous as hitting a car… in fact, it might make me fly in the path of an oncoming car. I really wish people understood that…
- Okay, do we think anyone is going to hit me if I swerve right here around this big cluster potholes in 1 second? If I look behind me right now I’m a goner either way so let us pray… Phew! Made it! I’m alive… this time!
- Oh no. Big hill with a stop sign before the top of it. No! Car coming up behind me. Please let me continue through the stop sign or I’m going to fall off my bike trying to start up again! Ugh I’m so tired, this hill is steep! Why do I bike? Please please please please…. THANK YOU PERSON FOR BEING SO KIND AND SEEING ME STRUGGLE AND LETTING ME CONTINUE WITHOUT STOPPING! I’m going so slow up this climb it’s the same as stopping anyway…
- Are they going to let me turn? Ugh I don’t like left turns. Yes, here’s a perfect opening! Hand signal up, turnnnnn.
- What street is this? Remember: left [street name], right [street name], left [street name], right [streetname], slight right [street name]. (Repeat this a couple of times.) Okay left, right, left, right, right. (Repeat.) Wait! Was it left, right, left, left, right?? Ah I’m getting confused! Where am I?!
- Here’s a good section to grab a quick drink of water. [Drinks.] Okay, now to put it back in the holder without missing and keeping my eyes on the road… yikes, this isn’t as easy as it looks! Don’t drop it…
- Ugh, again! There is literally NO ONE NEAR US and you had to drive within inches from me?? Thank goodness I didn’t swerve that far around that pothole. Crap!!
- Another cyclist behind me! Nooo I’m going as fast as I can, how are you passing me?! He’s like ancient compared to me! Man I’m so slow!
- My butt hurts sooo much. I need a new seat!! Man those people in those cars with those nice cushy seats, and they’re annoyed at me for delaying them a little bit?? THEY’RE THE ONES IN CUSHY SEATS! TMI jerks, I’m even getting saddle sores so why don’t you give me a little sympathy… it’s not going to delay you that much!
- Jeez! I almost jumped off my bike after that person honked at me. I HATE when that happens. Why are they honking??? I’m not doing anything wrong! Because I’m a girl? Gross.
- I’m tired, almost done. Oh man, why does it hurt so bad all of a sudden. I thought I was in shape! How do those people in my classes do 60 miles rides when I’m dying after 25?? I need to do more strength exercises. And a new seat.
- My abs are feeling the BURN. I really need to cut back some weight so that I can go faster and show off some of this muscle! My back too… it’ll look good, but DAMN I need to book a massage soon because I can feel a knot building up back there right now… oh and if they can massage my hamstrings that’d be fantasssstic because gosh darn they’re tight!
- Almost home. I’m getting hangry. I feel sweaty and covered in dirt and I’m tired and I’m ready for this to be over.
- Bike ride done! The feeling is slowly coming back to my butt. I feel so good! Dang, I burned some major calories. Hopefully I got some nice tan lines, too.
Cyclists: do you have anything to add to this list?