I dunno. Things like I watched today make me feel old. “Old” as in smart enough to avoid utter numbskull moves so that I can be an “old bike rider”, which is one of my goals in life.
First noted this particular rider on my way back home. I’d meandered down to the bridge to stretch my legs a bit, as the rides have been hard to come by for the last week and a half. We were at the north end of the Mill Valley bike path, waiting for the light to change. Couple other folks, but as it was mid-afternoon, there wasn’t quite the scrum that can take place. Gotta admit the first thing I noted was the earbuds. Never a good sign, but I try not to be judgemental.
When the lights changed, we rolled out, and I eased ahead of him, then turned left and then right for the Camino Alto climb. Another rider passed me on the first pitch, and we exchanged pleasantries. Then earbud-man pumped past, and either chose to ignore my “heyhowzitgoin” or it faded into the rhythm of whatever mix he was having pumped into his ear orifices. Fine. Ok. I kinda expected that.
We met again at the top of the climb. After his exuberant start to the climb, he had throttled back a bit and I’d been easing up on him. Then he suddenly began wobbling significantly off his line. I checked for advancing traffic, then veered around him, trying to see if he was having trouble of some sort - a bee in his helmet or something. Nope. He was dinking around with the control wheel on the iPod. I guess he has climbing music and descending music. Leaving him trying to locate Ride of the Valkyries or whatever he needs for the turns down to Corte Madera, I pushed over the crest and descended.
I don’t know if he was challenged by this action or not. All I know is that I started hearing that clattery sound of thin tires and light frame trying to stay stuck on the pavement behind me. There’s a difference between that type of ominous racket and the swooshing sound of rider in control. He managed to stay upright, but more by white knuckling it than by conscious technique. Luckily, he didn’t come crashing into my rear wheel, and I must admit I increased my speed when he sounded close, just so I could keep a safety buffer.
We all end up waiting at the red light, at the stoplight with the least appropriate sensor setting in the county, which many riders will recognize sits at the base of the Camino Alto hill, on the Corte Madera side. Even with a serious steel frame, it tends not to trigger. I have no idea what the non-ferrous or resin/glue crowd does. Well, now I do. Because earbud-man arrives on scene. Facing us on Magnolia Avenue are about 10 cars that had been waiting at the red light. To our right, there are two kids on foot who are leaning on the pedestrian signal button. The cars coming towards us will get a combined left-turn arrow/straight green light when it changes. Traffic from the right gets their red, the oncoming cars start rolling, all the ones I can see with their left turn blinker activated. There are three of us cyclists with foot down, waiting for the left turning cars to pass and our light to turn green.
Then, for some reason known only to him, earbud-man rolls past us and through the red light. The next left-turning car jerks to a stop to avoid him, and is so clearly stunned by this rider’s stupidity that he cannot bring himself to honk. Earbud-man sets off in pursuit of whatever demons he seeks, which puts him about 100 yards away by the time our actual green light illuminates and we all advance while shaking our heads.
Through the capriciousness of stoplights and traffic, I again regain this fellow as we near Bon Air Road. Very little traffic and supremely clear line-of-sight in all directions. There are 4 cars waiting for the dedicated left turn light, and our light has gone red as earbud-man rolls up to the it. They begin to move. Earbud-man waits a beat or two, then again rolls out into the intersection. Again, the car brakes to avoid him. I begin to wonder if he might not have a functioning left eye, or perhaps some type of macular degeneration. But, then I would tend to think if that were the case, he might not so casually be drowning out his aural cues. Therefore, I can only conclude there’s an issue with a different organ.
Honestly, I don’t think in my time of riding I’ve seen two such epic examples of blissfully ignorant acts. (And to clarify, this didn’t have the definitive bumper-shaving decisiveness of a messenger blowing through cross-traffic - this had the energy of “well, it’s time to push away from the curb now and begin our merry little jaunt…”). The only reason he wasn’t picking up his teeth from the pavement is due to the attention being paid by the car drivers.
And that, my friends, is not a high-percentage move…
Be careful out there, folks. Or aware. At least be aware.