Smoking the Gear Addicts

September 20th, 2012

My wife and I own but one car. When we moved from the Twin Cities, we sold the second car. I became a full on bicycle commuter. When I need to wear a suit, I take the bus. Sometimes the bus drivers give me guff about wearing a tie. I prefer to bike. The cost of maintaining a bike as a regular cycle commuter beats bussing or owning a car easily.

The psychic cost is another thing. There are a lot of things that wear on a bicycle commuter, and while I expected drivers to be the biggest issue, I have been surprised by my fellow cyclists. We are not, as a group, as realistic with our abilities as we should be.

There is on group in particular that I am not particularly charitable towards: middle aged gear addicts. I’m sure you’ve seen the type. They range from a bit heavy to very tubby, they’re wearing bike shorts, have clipless pedals, a super expensive bike, and they aren’t going very fast.

Look, I’m sympathetic to the idea of buying the gear so that getting your money’s worth is motivation to keep at it. Maybe they want to lose some weight, get in better cardio shape, whatever. That’s great. But maybe just the bike would have cost enough to motivate them? Either way, this subsection of the cycling community seems to take the fact that I’m in jeans and a t-shirt or maybe a button up shirt as proof I’m going to be slow. They don’t bother observing my actual biking, they just plop their buts in front of me at stop lights and then proceed to poke along. Now I have to pass some guy who anointed himself a speedster because he’s wearing tight pants.

I bike out of the downtown core. Traffic is often fairly heavy on the path I take. I’ll take the lane if I have to, but it’s not something I’m excited about. Yet cyclists who only catch up with me when I stop for lights seem to think that getting stopped at the light means you need to get passed. They go popping out right after the light changes. Fellow riders, the intersection is often a bad place to pass. The cars accelerate faster than you do, so you’ll be forced back into the bike lane almost immediately. What does that mean? It means you’ll be cutting off the cyclist you were just ineffectively trying to pass. But despite the fact that this happens on about two of every three rides home, never once has one of these guys, as he huffs to try to put on a bit of extra speed to get around me, considered that he’s working awfully hard just to get around a guy who was pulling away from him a block before.

When will these guys learn that blowing almost 3 grand on a swank carbon frame did not automatically catapult them into Cat 3 racing circles? The racers pass both of us, and good on them. Me? I’m just trying to get home as fast as possible without breaking any traffic laws. I’m tired of getting caught behind these chuckleheads, so I’m going to the gym. My goal is to make sure I smoke them in the first 10 feet and don’t have to worry that my inferior commuter acceleration gets me stuck behind any newly minted gear addicts and their total lack of staying power down the stretch.

It turns out that while car lanes continue through the intersection, at least one local judge thinks that the bike lanes don’t. Okay, so he’s a judge pro tem. Either way, the fact that the law’s interpretation can be mangled to this extent is absurd. What is the point of having bike lanes if some guy decides that they are not operative at the point in the road where they are most needed?


October 4th, 2007

Someone managed to take out the driver’s side mirror on my car. They didn’t get the whole mount, just the glass of the mirror itself. I was stupid enough to think that this would not cost much to repair. It turns out that replacing the glass means replacing the entire mount. So, it’s a four hundred dollar repair all of a sudden, for a small piece of glass.

Why does the car have to be designed so that replacing the glass of the mirror mean replacing the whole mount? Shouldn’t this just be something we pop into place? I could even see the spot where it would pop into place with two clips. I wondered if I could have just popped out a mirror at the junk yard and fitted it.

Upon getting home with my repaired car I decided to hop onto my bike and go to the grocery store. When I took the first turn I realized that a screw had come loose, and my baskets were floating half free. If the other one came loose it would drop onto my tire and I’d be walking it home. Total cost of repair? 16¢ And I could do it myself. Actually 9¢ because I already had a locking nut of the right size. In so many ways biking seems like a better option. I’m down to under 40 miles a week in my car. The rest is done on the bike.

Of course winter will come soon, and I’m not that hardcore yet.

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