5.14.2008

back to the WAR ON MACARTHUR BOULEVARD

back to the war on MacArthur Boulevard...
it is a shock that this road is not covered in the blood of cyclists

the other day I went for a post work ride
initially I had planned on hanging with Dean and Grant while Lisa went to an elementary school function
it was a PTA style meeting which Lisa is involved in at one level or another
Lisa was not in the mood
Lisa did not have the energy
Lisa was feeling burned out after a long day at work
so Lisa opted to hang with the boys at Dean's soccer practice
which freed me up for a post work ride

this was good... my body and soul needed a ride
the mixture of rain and adult responsibility was cutting into my prozac... my prozac is the bicycle
I need prozac
as if you could not tell
I definitely need prozac
but instead I try to medicate with the bicycle
the pills of the brave new world worry me

I rode the city streets through Georgetown then down onto the Capital Crescent Trail
ah... the pleasure of life away from the stress of the car culture
the car-free pleasure of the Crescent Trail only lasted a few miles

when I hit the Maryland-DC border I got back onto the road with the cars
not more than a mile on MacArthur Boulevard and I was already grinding my teeth and clutching my handlebars

the cars passed fast and close
too fast and too close
some of the cars passed intentionally close and then cut quickly into the lane in front of me
what sort of lesson does this teach?
the usual brown stars were on their cell phones and checking their blackberry devices
I was hammering at a good pace on the cross bike in the big ring
but remember... this is a cross bike... where the big ring is not so big
so my top speed may not be road racer top speed
but this is understood... as I am not a road racer

there is a bike lane that runs along side of the MacArthur Boulevard
but I stayed on the road
my pace was too fast for the multi-use bike path
and well... it would be hard to maintain my pace on the bike path

the sand, the mud, the glass would be part of the slow down process
but my desire to respect the blue haired ladies with the blue haired dogs keeps me on the road
I can not help but think that if I were on the bike path with my wife or my children I would not want to be passed by a bicycle moving over 15MPH-20 MPH... on the road I was definitely averaging close to 20
that dangers on the bike path are as great as those on the road
different... but also dangerous

so I gave the couples holding hands their space
the awkward rollerblader need not worry about me... they can focus on staying upright without me buzzing past their side
and all the dogs on leashes long and short were not a risk to me or themselves with their erratic moving about
I left the bike path to the slow moving cyclists and all the other multi-use traffic
I stuck to the street
not to be inconsiderate to the car drivers and their need to rush home to their two car garages and their ultra wide flat screen televisions within their god awful mcmansions
but to be considerate of others
I was in fact where I should be

the road is where the fast moving bicycle belongs
the multi-use bike path is no place for pace lines and road training


fast and close
fast and close
cut off
fast and close

the notion of LIMIT seems to be misunderstood when the driver interprets the signs marking the SPEED LIMIT
the car drivers fail to understand that LIMIT=MAXIMUM
and this MAXIMUM is in reference to the speed that cars should move when they are approaching other cars
which is clear to me that the cars should be cruising below this SPEED LIMIT when encountering a person not surrounded by crumple resistant side panels and a variety of airbags

BMW... the obnoxious driver's machine... we all know that classic joke*
HANDICAP PLATE... I am thinking that your handicap is mental
Soccer Moms... respect my life as you respect the lives of your children
Bad Boy Club with your Bazooka Tube... you are not smooth... you are a cheese head
the list goes one
the majority of the drivers were respectful
but this vicious minority were aggressive... obnoxious... inconsiderate... and most definitely not conscious of the WORST CASE SCENARIO!

no... these drivers are not thinking of the WORST CASE SCENARIO
these drivers have no concern for me or my well being
as I am not a human being in their eyes
I am a cyclist... which translates to an obstacle
these drivers all passed me fast and close
some faster and closer than others
many trying to make a point by zipping back into the lane in front of me encroaching on my right to space
many making an aggressive pass only to get stuck in the line of traffic just ahead

there were words from my end and honking from theirs
the body language of the passing drivers
and then the body language expressed by the cars
it was all very negative


there was traffic
there are lines of traffic on this road every day
these daily commuters are accustom to these lines of traffic
just as they are accustom to the people on their bikes
instead of learning how to behave around the cyclists
these drivers develop a habit of misbehavior

the road is long with beautiful sweeping turns
this is a great road for the bicyclist due to the infrequent cross roads and the infrequent need to stop
on carless nights this is also a great stretch of road for a motorcycle
I do not own a motorcycle


the cars were backed up on the north side where cars enter what may be the Clara Barton Parkway
I flipped off a handful of the drivers stuck in the queue
passing all of those assholes who passed me so fast and so close
yelled a few things at some others and continued on my way never breaking pace
this sort of behavior does nothing for the cause
but... I was STEAMED!

their actions that nearly killed me got them no further
had they followed on my rear wheel at my meager pace

something about people threatening my life really pisses me off

I was having a good ride
I was feeling strong
and there were still some miles to hammer out
so I hammered
my day was going too well to let these losers bring me down
as I passed Glen Echo I was frustrated with the SLOW AND GO style of driving and the failure of the drivers to yield me the right of way
these things are to be expected


I caught another long line of cars at the Historic Cabin John one lane bridge
the timing was perfect
I rolled past the line of cars waiting at the light and sifted into the cars on the road rather than the sidewalk
the car that I tired to pass fought hard to beat me to the narrow passage
it was sketchy
but I kept my sharp elbows out and held my ground
across the bridge I split the line of cars by riding the double yellow line

past this stop sign I was given some space
most cars were taking the left to access the route to GW Parkway or I-495
the cars were less frequent which only changed the percentage of obnoxious drivers
and there were plenty of obnoxious drivers

I tried to ride to the right... but when a car passes too fast and too close I often feel as if I need to ride closer to the center of the lane so that the passing cars know that they need to cross the double yellow line when they pass
there is not enough room for them to pass within the lane
the passing car driver is not factoring in that I may have to move six inches closer to center to dodge an obstacle in my path

the madness continued
I got more attitude from more drivers
more assholes that just do not want me to be there
why do they think that my being on this road alters their destiny?

I know what some of these people are thinking....
WHY IS THIS GUY ON THE ROAD WHEN MY TAX DOLLARS PAY FOR THIS BIKE LANE?

well... I already answered that
it makes sense to me to be considerate of the bike path culture and stay on the road when I am trying to keep a fast pace

I roll through the STOP SIGN at the northern point where The Clara Barton Parkway meets up with MacArthur Boulevard.... one two three cars make a slow and go move through the Stop Sign feeding on to MacArthure
the fourth guy is shaking his head as I roll through
complete disapproval
he was forced to make a complete stop
like a complete stop he passes me on the left.... ignoring that he is about to rear end the last car in a line of cars in front of him

oddly enough two more cars behind him make this same aggressive pass
I do not flip off any of these guys
they are out of control
they have some sort of RAGE that I do not want to contend with

I roll on the double yellow line then zip over to the bike path so I can pass the 100 yards of cars stopped at the Stop Sign at Brickyard Road

then I move back onto MacArthur

still hammering on the flats
my pace drops on the slight incline at Old Angler's Inn
then it happens
that same cluster of assholes who passed me so fast and so furious minutes ago make another pass

the bird is contained
I keep my profanity to myself
but the pressure is too much
when the last fat ass in the BMW passes inches from my hip I let it go

BAD PEOPLE
BAD BAD PEOPLE

my pace picks up as my anger fuels me
I have no intent to try and catch these people
but I am angered
I am angered that our society is producing such troglodytes
to think... they can afford that car... they live out here... these are people making some high dollar decisions
these people are idiots

I crest the hill and drop in towards Great Falls past Falls Road
once down and only once up
a mixture of not much time and not much strength I head back without repeating the hills
I figure it makes more sense for me to hammer the flats that expend my energy on the winding hill that feeds down to Great Falls on the Maryland side

the ride back is similar but different

there are some assholes...
but there are less cars going into the city than coming out

I arrive home feeling refreshed
my legs are worked
I feel good
good ride... bad people
the good of the ride outweighed the bad people
but there are lots of really really bad people
people that should not breed
people that more than likely never give in this world but only take
there are too many people in this world... most of them bad

*classic joke
what is the difference between a BMW and a Porcupine?
the porcupine has many pricks on the outside
the BMW has one prick on the inside












21 comments:

Relax-Rojas said...

Amen hermano!

Darren said...

Good post liked what you said about the mult-use path. People need to call them that, not bike paths. Most bike paths have a speed limit of 15mph, I am usually riding around 20mph, and sometimes close to 25mph. There is an article in spokes or Metrosports that tells how the bicycle is the SUV of the Muti-use path.

camps said...

Friend,
are you *sure* that the prozac is working??
hard to believe you feel refreshed after all that.

that story, edited slightly, would make a great Wash Post Magazine story

KS said...

Seriously? I'm just waiting for my car to get hit by a car swerving to avoid one of you idiots.

You don't want to be slowed down by the walkers on the path so you go 15-20 mph (almost 25?) on a major road.

I live near there. If I pass 3-4 people from Brookmont to Caderock, it is crowded.

gwadzilla said...

if the car swerves and hits you
it is on the car
the car should know when to pass
and how to pass safely

I think that is the point of the story

it seems that some people just do not get it

most people do not get it

Annie Boyd said...

I got my car actually punched for me telling one of you people to use the damn bike path. Let me makes this fucking clear. Use the fucking Bike Path! Its there for a goddamn reason, mostly so that I dont kill you as you're doing 25 on a windy ass road with cars trying to get home going 45+. Not all of us have McMansions, flat screens, and 2 car garages. Obviously, you have money to blow if you're dicking around on a bike.

Icon O. Classt said...

Annie: So, everyone and everything should get the hell out of your way because you either refuse to or are incapable of paying attention to your driving?

Obviously, you have money to blow if you're "dicking around" in a car burning gas at $4+ a gallon.

I've got a suggestion: slow the fuck down and start living.

And get used to seeing cyclists out there on "your" road. There are more and more of us everyday. We aren't going anywhere.

Russ said...

Annie, annie, annie.... wow, thats all that can be said.

"you have money to blow " on four dollar a gallon gasoline, maybe you should ride a bike. Studies show bike commuters have above average intelligence (which you could possibly attain), along with reduced living expenses (no $4.00 gas), and are healthier (which you possibly aren't).

We have all had cars. If it were the solution, we would be doing it.

KS said...

You seriously think that eveybody is lucky enough to have job and home flexibility enough to ride their bike to work? Or that everyone is healthy enough? Should they drive their two kids to the Dr. on the back of their bike?

KS said...

Mr Above Avg Intelligence -- please explain to me again why you aren't riding on the BIKE path?

gwadzilla said...

it is true...

not everyone has the time, the proximity, or the health to ride their bicycle to work

it is true...
taking the kids to school
taking the kids to the doctor
heck... even shopping for the week
these things are not necessarily an option for the bicycle

I am not telling everyone to get on a bicycle
I am asking people to allow the cyclist to travel without having their life threatened unnecessarily

obnoxious drivers passing too fast and too close
breaking two laws at once
heck... throw in failure to yield to another and that makes three
such drivers should lose their right to drive

it is all about respect and understanding

respect others as you wish to be respected

understanding that the bicycle path is for MULTI-USE and not the place for high speed bicycle travel and understanding that the bicycle has a right to be on the road are among the most simple of concepts

if a car swerves to avoid a cyclist and hits your car...
well... it would be the fault of the driver
people should only pass when passing is safe
people should also pass pedestrians and cyclists going LESS than the SPEED LIMIT
as the SPEED LIMIT is the legal SPEED MAXIMUM
and
the distance that they pass should be no less than three feet

it is not that I do not want to be slowed by the walkers or mothers with strollers on the bike path...
it is my respect for them

just as I do not like to be buzzed by a car
I understand that pedestrians do not like being buzzed by the bicyclist

I can not even proof this jumbled set of thoughts
as my heart rate is already rising

KS and Annie...
let us try this...

see the cyclist as a person
a person not too much different than you
a person that has a right to move about without another putting their life at risk
and putting their life at risk for what?
does the bicycle really slow your trip?
not at all
after the 10-20 seconds of waiting for a safe time to pass you can gas it on the next straight away
getting home to your normal size house with your one car garage and your CRT television at the same time you would have gotten if you had passed the cyclist over the speed limit inches from their hip

KS said...

You can slow down when you pass pedestrians on your "Multi-use path". (Hint - you aren't going that fast)

I was one of 7 cars behind one of you jackasses from in front of the Irish Inn all the way to Wilson because there was too much traffic to go around.

gwadzilla said...

I was reading in the paper the other day about a gun related crime in downtown Bethesda...

In downtown Bethesda a man was held up at gunpoint while getting money from the ATM

the man with the gun pointed the gun at the other man's head and said, "give me the money or blow my brains out"

the man at the ATM stalled for a second
frozen in place
then responded, "I guess you will have to blow my head off... because you can live in Bethesda without a brain but you can not live here without money"

KS said...

Hmmm...I'm guessing the guy who said, "give me the money or blow *my* brains out" was the brainless one who rides his bike on MacArthur?

Or wait..the other guy was standing at the machine (so maybe rode a bike). If he had a brain, he would've told the robber to blow his own brains out -- as that was an option according to your account.

gwadzilla said...

yea

editing my copy is not my strength

billy on the tubs said...

Wikipedia: troll (internet)

An Internet troll, or simply troll in Internet slang, is someone who posts controversial and usually irrelevant or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum or chat room, with the intention of baiting other users into an emotional response[1] or to generally disrupt normal on-topic discussion.[2]

Annie Boyd said...

Why would I possibly have money to burn if I own what quite possibly each and every single one of you also own? I deal with the $4 a gallon gas, why? Because I have to. You do to... when you buy anything at the grocery store.

$4 a gallon gas has absolutely nothing to do with the fact that you are taking your (and my) life in your hands when you're doing 20 and I'm doing 45.

Simple solution folks... since you have so much time to burn dicking around on your bikes, why not get in your scrotum squeezing fun during non-rush hour times?

Look at me... I fixed it!

camps said...

Interesting when riding a bike to work becomes more risky than bungy jumping, surfing giant waves, or skiing avalanche terrain.

KS said...

This list is causing nothing other than for me to be increasingly irritated so I'm going to unsubscribe. I do have say one more thing to camps -- you know the things you list are only a risk to you and not to others. I also would be surprised if they inconvenienced me on a daily basis.

Icon O. Classt said...

Wonderful examples here of how driving turns presumably ordinary people into uptight super assholes.

Thanks KS and Annie--you've done my work for me. I couldn't have illustrated it better if I tried.

Happy motoring!

Anonymous said...

Hey buddy - let me remind you that bikers have to FOLLOW THE RULES OF THE ROAD. That means stop for stop signs, ride with traffic, do not ride the center yellow line, maintain speed limits, etc. As a fellow biker but also a driver (live right off MacArthur where you are discussing and use the road for both, plus the bike/jog lane for jogging and taking the stroller out), the bikers frequently do not follow the rules of the road.

Mind you, I am not making any excuses for the vapor-heads behind the wheel - not only do they endanger bikers but also pedestrians - but fighting this fire with fire is just going to get people burned, when it is preventable.

Do what I do - call 911 and report the erratic drivers as drunk and aggressive - you bet they will get pulled over faster than you can say "yippee ki yay mo fo".