Sunday, February 18, 2007

Beautiful Day

Yesterday's sunshine gave me the incentive to try the round-trip bike ride to work. I rode up along Lake Washington, through the arboretum, and up the hill to work. It was about twenty miles round trip and I'm a wee bit sore today, since I hadn't ridden at all between about October and February.

There's one stretch of Lake Washington Boulevard, less than 2 miles from work, that switchbacks up the hillside above the lake. I dreaded it the whole ride there, thinking, "Well, maybe I'll turn around at the base of the switchbacks." But when I got there I just slowly rolled up without any trouble. At that point I knew I'd be able to make it the rest of the way to work, and I couldn't contain a triumphant grin as I panted along the flat road at the top. A little elderly woman walking her dog next to the road must have seen my proud smile, because she gave me an enormous grin and yelled, "You go, girl!" I felt like a superstah.

Then on the way home, after a break and a snack at work, I had more of a deflating experience. There's a long downhill stretch south of Seward Park and I was enjoying the cruise, rolling along about 23 mph. A glance in my mirror revealed a spandex-clad gang of bikers coming up behind me, so I made sure I was as far to the right of the lane as possible, which I already was. As the pretend peloton came whooshing around me, one guy yelled out, "So you wanna get in the way, huh?"

Stunned, I took a second to flood full of anger and yell back, "So you wanna be a jackass, huh?" A glance over revealed the shiny spandex uniforms of the Husky Cycling Team--the current moron crop of these fine folks, apparently. Still angry, I shouted at the last one to straggle past me, "Spandex assholes!"

My own street intersected the boulevard then, so I turned off and didn't see them again. And I had to make a conscious decision not to carry the anger with me for the rest of the ride--it had been such a lovely ride, and I was so proud of my accomplishment, and then these idiots came along and nearly spoiled the whole experience. I mean, really? A Lance wannabe riding FOUR ABREAST down a two-lane road wanted to get snippy at ME for being in his way?

I'd love to pretend I'm just above it all, and I did manage to hang onto my memory of the elderly woman's encouragement more than the frustration that ended the ride. But I have to say that it just seems pretty damn typical of a lot of the bicyclists around here. Self-righteous, angry, arrogant--check, check, check. They talk and talk about how more people should turn to bicycles as a transportation option, about how healthy it is for people and the planet--and that's all true. But God forbid you actually follow their advice unless you already have a prime cycling physique, because you might get in their way, they might have to go around you, you might cost them a precious three seconds as they pass you. They're just as crazy and impatient as the idiots in cars who come perilously close to hitting the cyclists they pass, and I don't want to be associated with them.

It's funny: on my way out the door that morning I'd said to Mr. Thel, "I'm sure the spandex gangs will be out in force on Lake Washington Boulevard today." And he laughed, but also started to explain that spandex is not necessarily a sign of an ego-heavy idiot cyclist, that it's actually just the appropriate gear to wear for that activity. I know, I said, but I still don't really have any desire to obtain any, just because I don't want to be mistaken for one of those ultra-serious competitive types who ride out four or five abreast, getting irritated when any other bike or vehicle clogs up "their" route. God forbid the chubby chick riding a mountain bike should dare to attempt such a lofty activity.

OK, that's enough of that: I want to ride my bike to work more often, and I'm not about to let a bunch of scrawny pipsqueaks think their snackholes will intimidate me. I'll just start carrying my pepper spray in a more handy pocket. Careful which chubby chick you hassle next time, peloton.