On the Roads Again

February 16th, 2011 by Harrumpher Leave a reply »

happybike

I didn’t see my shadow on the road. Maybe like Punxsutawney Phil I can be Bike Mike and predict a pending Spring. Back in the saddle after hiding from the road ice was like coming home again. Yes, I believe you can go home.

At the Y, Barry and I have been sheepishly admitting to each other that we were off two wheels during and after our relentless bounty of winter. He said he was buying T passes for the first time in many years. I can pretend that my thin-wheel bike gave me more excuse than his fat-tire one, but we were pretty much the same. With harrowing, narrowing streets and roads, and drivers inattentive as their washer fluid worked, we were wary of riding onto a patch of ice and going down into or under a bus, truck or other motorized thingummy.

I don’t mind the cold either. I can layer for that. The ice though…

Today the relatively warmth and brightness seemed to have many in Spring spirits as well. A couple of toddlers in different neighborhoods called out to their indifferent moms, “Bike…bike!” Hey, it’s an image and word they know and likely an aspiration.

Bookend idiots on River Street at and just beyond Webster reminded me to still be careful, that frozen patches were not the only dangers. A self-entitled bozo in an F-250 floored it and cut right in front of me in a left turn onto Webster, but I was paying attention and braked and turned so he didn’t get me. Then almost immediately beyond the intersection, and old fool suddenly left her parking place, swinging her sedan sideways in front of me. Here, only my quick reactions and pretty new brake pads kept me from hitting the side of the car, stopping maybe two inches from the driver door, as she blocked the full lane and half the other one. My face under two feet from her closed window, but I kept my temper and just said loudly, “That was so illegal.” Rather than apologize or even acknowledge her recklessness, she looked solidly into her steering wheel and after 10 or so seconds finished her U turn. She looked really old and I bet doesn’t have much peripheral vision. If that’s the case, one would think she’d compensate a bit by looking where she intends to go. Meh.

The rest was pretty nice, headed over to the heart of South Boston to meet a friend for lunch. On Blue Hill Avenue, I got a shout out from a man on a bike. “This is the only way to travel!,” he proclaimed, grinning widely. Down on Columbia, a limo cut across three lanes of traffic to turn onto a side street. I had the right of way, but more out of self-preservation than graciousness, stopped short to let his pass. In contrast to the River Street demons, he gave me a big smile and thank-you wave. We can share the road.

Maybe the pending melting will help biking a bit soon. Many of the alleged bike lanes on American Legion, Columbia and elsewhere are blocked by SUVs and cars. The curbs are still squalid-ice covered and parkers would have to rub right against the mounds to leave the lanes open. They don’t even try, so cyclists (I didn’t see others beyond the nice elderly man on Blue Hill) were into the  travel lane.

Way back when I learned to drive on the mountain roads of West Virginia, motoring could bring some real pleasure. Sliding a stick-shift car around curves where 25MPH means just that was a oneness-with-the-machine feeling. I can’t really say that about chugging along from Hyde Park to Davis Square in a car.

Biking though is often pleasurable. Physically that makes sense, but emotionally too, there’s a feeling of being in charge instead of at the mercy of everyone else on my road; what are all these cars doing on my road?

I didn’t even mind the final push up Fairmount Hill at the end. Let the season begin.

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