Made a darned-near lethal error in judgement this morning. Violated my most basic tenet of riding in traffic:
I was in Sausalito, returning from a loop over the bridge to Crissy
Field. Dropping down into the populated area, it had been a
near-perfect run on the Quickbeam. Spinning like a maniac but
feeling smooth, no cars chasing me or jumping ahead only to have to
slow down in the 15 mph signed chicane. As I descended the final bit
toward what was once The Valhalla, a car moved up from the side street.
They had a stop sign. They didn’t. I yelled loudly. The
driver didn’t even seem to look left before turning into my lane at a
significantly slower speed than I was travelling.
It’s Sausalito for crissakes - oblivious tourist-ville with distracted
and dangerous drivers the rule. It was Sunday morning - how many
drivers still nursed their buzz from the night before. Drivers do
not see bicycles or motorcycles. Ever.
Yet, for some stupid-assed reason, it didn’t occur to me to assume
they’d do the dumbest thing. As soon as that car appearred in my
vision, I should’ve known that they were a missle aimed at my sorry
Canti’s. Full panic stop. Nice to know that if I need to, I can
skid stop. Felt the fixed gears lock one foot forward, then the
other. Thankfully no contact, but I must’ve looked really large in
their rear view mirror when they actually focused on it. I must’ve kept
yelling, though I can’t really recall just what. Something like,
“you just need to look!”
They accellerated a bit, and I did too, assisted by adrenaline and
gravity. They slowed as the road turned right on its final dip down to
the waterfront. Came to a stop. I may have still been yelling. I
know I yelled at them as I passed them. Loudly and directly, probably
with the odd profanity tossed in. Emploring them to look before they
blow a stop sign. I was, in short really, really pissed off.
They stayed behind me all the way up Bridgeway watefront, and we all
collected once again at the first stop light, which had graciously
decided to turn red. They pulled into the left turn lane, maybe trying
to keep as much distance between us as possible. A motorcycle
eased up next to me and the guy looked right at me. I said, “hi”. Don’t
know what or how much he saw, but depending on the version, he probably
thought I was the world’s largest asshole.
And maybe I was. The adrenaline gone, for the next few miles I
wondered just how much good that had done. I’d like to think that I was
making the point for the “next” person - so that the driver might just
hesitate and, y’know, stop and look before jutting out into the
street. But, then I found myself asking if I would’ve done that
much hollering if it had been 4 burly boys in the vehicle rather than a
couple of women. I also am not sure how much of the anger was
really directed at myself for not riding smarter.
Within a few more miles, I was spectacularly unimpressed by my actions.
Maybe it will make that driver look a little more carefully next time.
But, possibly I was just more evidence that bicyclists are just psychos.
Same ride. I put in a decent hill climb over Camino Alto and
still had a few miles to motor home. The effort helped flush that event
from my mind (though I remembered enough to write about it…).
As I settled in on the flatter roads of Larkspur, it struck me how
comfortable the handlebars were. They are Nitto Noodles - the stock bar
on the Quickbeam - and what really felt good was the “corners.”
For the past few weeks, for various reasons, I’d been riding other
bikes with different bars. Getting back on these made me realize how
well designed they are. With the slightly swept-back flat upper section
of the bar, you end up with a luscious curve as the bar goes forward
onto the ramp area. Perfect for my palms.
I rode for miles with my hands there, cradled by these wonderful handlebars.