oh no... played that wrong... almost paid for it

the other day I went out for a spin on the road bike...

there was a short window of opportunity before I left out to get the boys from school
so I got suited up and threw my leg over the skinny tire road bike
oh... the pain
the body was sore from the race a few days prior

the race itself normally takes a little jump from my legs
but this race caused more pain and discomfort
in this three lap mountain bike race I broke my saddle at the tail end of the second lap
with only the metal rails atop the seat post... I figured that my best choice was to remove the seat post and finish the race "out of the saddle"

I quickly learned how little "out of the saddle" riding is done when mountain biking
I also was reminded how much control happens by guiding the bike with the saddle between my thighs
there was no place to rest
there was no place to recover

my muscles hurt... my joints hurt
yet I knew I need to get on the bike

I left out my alley and pointed towards Rock Creek Park
as I approached a four way Stop Sign I slowed
there were no cars coming
it would be my turn... I would be the first to arrive... which would make it my turn to go

then to my left a white van came down the hill
the were slowing... but did not look like they were stopping
it did not appear as if they were going to grant me my turn
so... rather than making a full stop I accelerated

taking my turn... asserting myself

I am not sure if the white van ever made its stop
but seconds later I was rolling downhill at a healthy effortless down hill pace
with the white van following unnceccarily close
I pedaled... not racing the chasing car... but to spin the legs
on the straight away the van passed in the standard obnoxiously fast and obnoxiously close way that cars so often pass
then a few car lengths ahead the white van stopped at the line of cars at the red light at the base of the hill

the white van closed off the space to the right
I was riding to the right thus giving cars room to pass
but each of the cars in the queue were lined up with no expectation of a bicycle passing on the right
so... I passed on the left
the timing was right that I was able to pass a few cars on the left
then dip in between two cars and make my right hand turn

the white van went straight
our dance was done

on the road in Rock Creek Park I pointed North
or whatever direction the road points to get out of town
as I pedaled I debated my route
there was a measure of time, intensity, and what would entertain me

I decided to keep my intensity light
with my camera slung around my neck I figured I could take the Capital Crescent Trail through Kenwood 
if the cherry blossoms offered a bicycle photo op... I would stop

on Rock Creek Park I had the usual dance with the cars
cars rode fast and close
revving their engines
trying to make aggressive passes on blind turns
only to have to back off to avoid the head on collision

I get it... they want to move forward and further
when I drive... I want to pass the slower road users as well
but... I am not so sure if these drivers understand how their effort effects the cyclists
I am not sure if the care

the fast following car with its engine humming to my side
well... it does not add comfort to the situation
then the aggressive efforts to pass... only heighten the discomfort
a casual ride can often involve moments of white knuckles and teeth grinding

a multitude of cars passed
several of which had a green oval sticker of a haughty taughty private school just over the Maryland border
ah... those type A moms and their assertive driving style
elbow bent... ear to the phone and foot on the gas

there were no near misses
there were no close calls
for the most part... cars passed wide enough that there was no real complaint
but it only takes that one car to really throw me off
on this day early in the ride... there had already been several
but really... that is every bicycle ride in this area

part of me was drawn to stay on Beach Drive in Rock Creek Park
still playing in my head what route to take
at the light at East West Highway there was a line of cars
most of which had passed me minutes earlier

the timing was perfect
I slowed my cadence starting a quarter mile out
no reason to rush to the Red Light
then as I approached I watched the light cycle

cross traffic's lights changed
red light one way... green with green turn arrow going the other
I knew that the light headed my way would get the green with green turn arrow while we still had the red
I timed it just right

cross traffic got the red
on the right hand side of the road I dipped and rolled forward
just as oncoming traffic got the green with green turn arrow
I was through
I had the jump on the cars behind me

on the right side of the road I passed the Farmer's Market booth that occupies the road side
watching for cars pulling out of the farmer's market
careful of customers crossing in front of me
aware that cars could take an aggressive left or U-turn to get to the farmer's market

on the road... all the way to the right
not on the glass and gravel covered shoulder
not even on the white painted line
but to the right of the road

I pushed the pedals
in the big ring spinning pretty okay
then a trailing car honked
spooked I propped up

then I glanced back and faded over
not more to the right
but more to the center of the lane
this car driver scared me... I could not move over thinking that they would chance things an pass too close

as the road when slightly up hill I got out of the saddle
the car who had honked passed crossing the double yellow line
not risking the head on
but maybe closer than needed to be
why did they have to pass me

at the top of this hill that is almost too short to call a hill was a red light
cars lined up waiting for the green
not changing my pace I worked my way up the hill
the turn for the Capital Crescent Trail just ahead
I was tempted to go straight... just so I could pass the car that had just passed me

it intrigued me what this woman's hurry was
also... I saw her handicapped tag
I wondered what her handicap was
was it mental? she was clearly illogical

she put her right to space ahead of mine
she honked at me... then she passed unnecessarily
not getting any further any faster
just putting me at risk in the process

on the Capital Crescent Trail I enjoyed the car-free-ness of it all

instead of being frustrated by cars
I had people outside of cages to contend with
that said... nothing unexpected presented itself

it was the usual set of variables
runners and cyclists with headphones... unable to hear the crunch of my tires on the gravel... unable to hear my audible warning as I passed...
people spooked when I made my pass

people with their dogs
some on leash... others off leash...
then the most annoying
the ones on the extended retractable leash

then of course... the nannies....
strollers parked blocking the trail with the little bundles of joy running around on the bike path
with no expectation of the on coming bike
no expectation from the small child or from the nanny

I love dogs... just as I love children...
I am not going to hit your dog or your children
if you are so concerned about their well being... then why do you behave as you do

I bring my speed down and pass fluidly

it is the standard routine on this sort of trail
that is why the multi-use bike trail is not a good place for "training"
pace line? not on the bike path!

but... during mid-day off peak hours
the trails are less crowded 
so I feel that my less than a sweat breaking pace is fine
often I ride my single speed to keep my maximum speed down on these trails

as I approached downtown Bethesda at Bethesda Avenue the concentration of trail users increased
three abreast this way
five abreast that way
button hook right in front me here
someone entering the trail without looking there


I expect the unexpected
this type of behavior is everyday for these people
no shock here

yet it still frustrates me...

through Kenwood I see that the Cherry Blossoms may be past their peak
I missed it... I may have missed it... I may not have missed it... either way, I do not have enough time to deviate from the direct path home
need to get home and get the car so I can grab the dog and then get my younger son from school
so... no pedaling down the roads of Kenwood on the streets coated in a blanket of pink blossoms

through Kenwood it is more congestion... well... not congestion
but more of the same
confusion... people all thinking that their right to space is more important than others
not shared space
but their space

over the bridge over River Road and I see some construction ahead
I coast down the hill and keep the hands on the levers and my eyes on the workers
it frustrates me because I feel as if they are not anticipating me
three workers moving a fence... will they move it in front of me
a worker crosses the trail with a five gallon bucket in front of me... never looking either way for trail traffic

then ahead there is a man with a SLOW-STOP sign
there is a short section of trail where an cyclist is coming my way
then another man with a SLOW-STOP sign
I am coasting

just as I am about to pass the first man with a sign
he rotates his sign from SLOW to STOP
well... too late!
I continue anyway

I pass the cyclist
and then I see this little mini excavator start a rotation
it seems that the driver told them to stop trail traffic so he can move
the excavator is rolling backwards and starting a fast turn
that thing is quick!

I zip past with a  near miss... luckily were did not have a more definite point of intersection
as I pass the second man with the SLOW STOP sign I hear "puta"
he gets the finger
I roll on

but... I immediately admit to myself that I was in error
not for cussing at the man who cussed at me
but by not slowing more and not paying closer attention to the SLOW STOP SIGN
I put myself in danger
and for what?

my chip on my shoulder style of riding put me at risk

need to be more alert
need to be more considerate
need to be more careful
yes... assertive... yes.... sometimes aggressive
but try not to be stupid

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