Friday, August 9, 2013

Theory 12: Bicycle guys are selfish and make other people late for work.

Readers, I warned you in my first post that I will vent from time to time. Delicious cautioned me not to write this theory because (and she is probably right) I will certainly offend some folks by griping about bicycle guys.  I like to complain in detail, so let me be specific so as to identify who “bicycle guys” are and who they are not. They are the guys who ride bicycles at rush hour, on the road, in school zones, in the way, and make us all nervous and late.  They are not the men and women who ride in parks and on back roads, on weekends or at night, for exercise or pleasure.  They are not the college students who choose frugal speed and efficient parking with bikes vs. cars. 

Hustling to get Sharky to school and myself on to work, I met up with a stranger on two wheels every stinkin’ morning for several years. The original Bicycle Guy routinely showed up on the narrow, two-lane (no shouldered) Lyons View Pike.  Sharky I became so frustrated, I considered penning an editorial piece for the local paper.  Look, I’m a fan of exercise. Not necessarily a participant, but still, a fan. (See Theory 5: Play a sport, even if you suck at it.) I admire people who rise early to work out. But, I wanted this Bicycle Guy to get out of my way! I hated starting my day with a string of menacing moments and thoughts like, “Geez, I want to pass him but what if he turns? Geez, I wonder how much sweat is in those shorts. ”

I never want Sharky or the Gnome to be disrespectful toward grown-ups, but this guy wore us out. When it was safe, I swerved quite dramatically around Bicycle Guy (so he’d notice) and nodded to Sharky, who then yelled out his backseat window, “Grab a napkin, ‘cause you just got served!”

So, cyclists, if you are reading this, please understand and take this message to heart because I really am afraid I’m going to hit you with my car. Not on purpose, of course! I won’t lose mental control and just run you over. I actually have several friends who bike for sport. I love to see their scenic Facebook and Instagram photos from atop Smoky Mountain overpasses and curves of The Dragon. Call me ignorant, and do forgive me. I am just trying, like many drivers, to understand and—what’s that weird bumper sticker I see all the time? COEXIST? (in ethnic hieroglyphics) safely. Bicycle Guy, please consider the following observations, conjectures, and questions:

  • Like most mothers, I can never drive with two hands. When the Gnome screams for a French fry, I must deliver. When Sharky smarts off, I pinch him. When Gnome drops his sippy cup, his book, his toy, his blanket, I lean back and reach blindly (eyes on the road) and sweep the crumb-y gooey floorboard until I retrieve all the above. Heck, I serve dinner in my car, affectionately named Big Red.

  • You are putting a lot of trust in strangers and their vehicles. My year 2000 SUV is running on love and duct tape these days. Once I even held the driver’s side door on the car, in the rain, for several miles to a service station.  That door was like a 9-year-old’s loose tooth, hanging by one strong wire. My arm was sore for days. Last year, Big Red and I survived three winter months sans wiper blades.

  • Drivers and their vehicles have issues beyond your control. We have bad brakes, bad alternators, loose belts, slick tires… We could be arguing, reading, eating, drinking, asleep…

  • Your outfits are distracting. My old 4th grade teacher used to sing a song that went, “Keep your mind on your driving and your eyes on the wheel, because the girls are in the backseat with Fred.” I can’t keep my eyes on my driving when your muscles flex round and round in neon in my line of sight. Why do you wear neon in the daytime? Do you wear sunglasses at night? What’s really bad is when your neon top doesn’t match your neon bottom. I’m from Pigeon Forge, but still, come on! Also, what’s up with the padded man Spanx? Are you trying to avoid chafing? Makes sense, but why not cover your man Spanx. Is this an aerodynamic goal? How much time can you really shave off with that get-up? If you bike to work, does that mean you walk into your office sporting man Spanx? You’ve already made countless people late for their jobs, and then you expose your colleagues to a middle-aged body bulging out of sweaty Speedo shorts first thing in the morning. If I saw that, I’d drop my donut!

  • Do you stink all day? You must be physicians, because banks don’t have showers and there is no way a teacher is going to take his clothes off at school. We hope. Is this how we get staff infections from minor surgeries?

  • Your bike weighs around 25 pounds. Big Red weights 4,164.  You do the math.

  • Why does your hat have a tail?

  • Why don’t you ride on greenways and mountain trails? This is East Tennessee! Think of the views, the hills that could build those thighs and glutes, the wildflowers… Be a man! At nine years old, I stood up and pumped my maroon and silver bicycle all over The Crippled Beagle Farm, balancing her through rutted pit and tar roads dotted with box turtles and American Bullfrogs. I dodged sunbathing beagles and cow patties. I grazed barbed wire fences to avoid Delicious’s ever-threatening tetanus shot.  My skillful steering and command of the two-wheeled vehicle took me to shady spots where I would lie on a beach towel to enjoy my Swiss Cake Roll, Coke, and Sweet Valley High book. I just don’t understand why you have to absorb a whole lane on Lyon’s View or Kingston Pike or Cumberland Avenue.


Which view do you prefer?

  • Speaking of Lyon’s View, you know there’s a country club on that road, right? I suggest you coast through its parking lot when you have extra time. You will see an inordinate number of white-trimmed blue squares framing stick men in wheel chairs. These handicap spots take up half the parking lot. Hmmmm. An elderly man gets up at 6 a.m. to walk his 20 heart-healthy minutes on the country club treadmill. He then enjoys some cottage cheese and peaches with decaf coffee. He gets in his giant Cadillac and pulls his cataract glasses from atop the visor. And, BAM! You meet. Bicycle Guy, you are putting a lot of faith in geriatric peripheral vision. Is that why you wear neon? Does in glow in the cataract dark?

  • When you exit Lyon’s View and head down Kingston Pike toward campus, do you realize you are in West High School territory? Does the term “Drivers’ Education” mean anything to you? You are basically playing Frogger on wheels with high school freshmen. I teach freshmen. When a student tells me, “Mrs. Bug, I’m getting my learner’s permit today,” I gulp and pray. For all of us. Trust me, you are safer on the greenway.

    How Sharky rolls
  • Do you avoid the greenway to avoid other exercisers? Are there greenway hogs? Walkers, joggers, women behind baby strollers? Dog walkers managing unpredictable runaways? Can’t we all just get along? There must be some rules, some exercising etiquette.  Ladies, make room for the cyclists, please.

I told my dear old friend, Mutah, who is an active mountain biker and often makes 70 mile trips through the mountains about this post and he told me that he and his friends have been “spit at, cussed out, passed way too closely and even hit by cars!” He has a license plate that reminds people to share the road. He explained, “One bike rider was hit by a full 16 oz. Dr. Pepper bottle.” He warned,  “I hope and pray your blog does not make you sound like one of these redneck idiots, but tells people to share the road… the law states that they have to be three feet away from the cyclist.”

They're after me!

I’m just going to have to say to all you bike riders, “Look twice for Big Red and thank God for her brush guard.”

Cyclists, I do admire your courage. I admire your tenacity. I admire your commitment to physical fitness. Actually, often, I admire your physiques, from a safe three-foot distance, of course. Now and then, though, as I check out your toned thighs and big calves, I get an up close shock when I realize you are actually female, which reminds me of Theory 13: As people get old, they morph into the opposite gender.

See you next post. Until then, think outside the barn!

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Just thinking outside the barn...

Just thinking outside the barn...