A “Hey Check Out the New Banner Photo” Note from Fatty: Jo Ann from Western NY sent in the new banner shot, which was taken by Ron George. Thanks for sending that photo in, Jo Ann!
I’ll be changing the header photo on an irregular basis now. Any time you have a photo you think belongs in the header, email it to me, with the subject “Header Photo.” Thanks!
You are a cyclist, and so, naturally, you are sometimes frightened by the multi-ton vehicles — I call them “cars” and “trucks” — with which you must share the roads. And you should not be ashamed of your fear or confusion. After all, did you know that if you have a collision with one of these cars and / or trucks, the odds are you’ll sustain as much damage as the other vehicle?
Or quite possibly more!
Well, it’s true. And did you know that many — if not most — of these cars and trucks are, roughly speaking, ten gazillion times faster and heavier than you?
Well, that’s true too!
And — just one more little fact here — were you aware that, due to the inequity in size and speed between cars / trucks and bicyclists, there is a often a perceived animosity between these two categories of vehicles?
Yes, true again!
Of course, you’re no simpleton. No fool. You weren’t born yesterday, or probably even during a year that began with “2.” So you may well have already been aware of the above tidbits of information.
But here’s something I’ll bet you didn’t know: practically every single one of those cars and trucks actually has a human occupant inside — a living, breathing, human being. A regular person, very much like you or me — except for you and I are getting exercise and enjoying the outdoors, while the person in a car is breathing recycled air, is paying huge amounts of money for the nonreplenishable fuel propelling them, and accelerates / decelerates by barely moving their toes.
But otherwise: yep, people just you and me! I know. Take a moment to let that sink in.
OK, now that you’ve wrapped your mind around the fact that those cars (and trucks!) are filled with people (yes, people!), ask yourself: is it really possible that those people (!!!) — folks just like you and me — could really be so angry at us just because we have more fun getting from place to place than they do?
Of course not! That question was rhetorical, silly!
The truth is, the animosity and aggression and downright evilness you sense from certain car pilots is nothing more than a misunderstanding. Once you get to better understand the intentions behind the automotive pilot’s actions, you’re going to feel much, much better about sharing the road with them.
I’ll give you some examples.
SITUATION ONE: HONKING AT YOU
What happens: A car honks at you as it goes by, startling you and very nearly (or actually) making you crash.
What you think it means: “That jerk thinks it’s funny to make me swerve and crash!”
What it really means: The pilot of the automobile is struggling with feelings of insecurity, and has been for quite some time. Upon seeing you, these feelings have resurfaced, triggered by jealousy at your confidence, your athleticism, and your dashing lycra outfit.
Naturally, the car pilot’s first instinct was to pull over to the side of the road and weep at their own inadequacy and envy. Fighting down these ugly thoughts, the driver has instead chosen the high road: to instead give you a friendly greeting.
Unfortunately, this inner struggle took a little while to resolve itself. As a result, the person in the car didn’t honk until they were right beside you. Hence inadvertently startling and (hopefully nearly) injuring you.
Still, it’s the thought that counts.
SITUATION TWO: SWERVING AT YOU
What happens: A car swerves very close to you.
What you think it means: “That joker is either not paying attention to the fact that I am here on the road too, or thinks it would be funny to run me off the road!”
What it really means: The automotive pilot (sometimes called a “driver”) wants you to know that because they take your safety very seriously, they want you to know they’re in total control of the vehicle they’re operating. Hence, they are engaging in highly complex and sophisticated maneuvers designed to demonstrate the high level of skill they have with their automotive contrivance.
They’re showing you that their control over their car is so complete, so total, that they can execute what would otherwise be a foolhardy and potentially murderous action with total confidence. And that, therefore, you should feel totally safe, because the person behind the wheel (car drivers control their bikes with wheels, strangely) is not just a good driver, but an expert driver.
Kind of like the way the Blue Angels fly really close together, in tight formation. “Hey,” you should think to yourself, “If the driver can come within a hair’s breadth of killing me and still be smiling, this must be a rare driver indeed, and one in which I can put my complete trust!”
Isn’t that nice to know?
SITUATION THREE: THROWING STUFF AT YOU
What happens: The driver throws a beer bottle at you as they go by.
What you think it means: “That driver has just assaulted me with a deadly weapon. I’m pretty sure that’s a felony!”
What it really means: “Hey, you look really thirsty, and it just occurred to me that drinking while driving is dangerous, illegal, and stupid! Here, please take this beer, both to help me save me from myself, and because I suspect you might like some refreshment!”
SITUATION FOUR: MAKING HAND GESTURES AT YOU
What happens: The car driver makes a one-fingered gesture as they go by.
What you think it means: “This person, who has never met me before, has just insulted me for no good reason!”
What it really means: Did you know that in some remote cultures you have never heard of before, raising a single finger to the sky is regarded as a brief-but-earnest prayer, imploring mother nature to give those in the area good luck and excellent weather conditions for cycling?
So when a driver does this, consider it a thoughtful — and frankly, touching — beseeching of the higher powers on your behalf.
And please remember, in the cultures where such a gesture is considered a prayer, it is also considered rude for the beneficiary of that prayer to abstain from giving a similar prayer on the original supplicant’s behalf.
And you wouldn’t want to be rude, would you?
PS: Hey, I’ve started actually using my Twitter account. It’s a not-half-bad way to find out when I post something new. It’s also a not-half-bad way to find out what else I’m thinking about during the day. You know, stuff that sometimes makes it into the blog eventually, and stuff that doesn’t. Further, I promise not to tweet stuff about where I am or what I’ve just eaten. Unless I’m either at or have just eaten something very interesting. So: Follow me.