August 10, 2007

Feeling the heat, and taking it, too.

It's hot, man. For the last five days, temperatures have been in the upper 90's, and the low 80's at night. Humidity is a whoel other story, and there is a LOT of it right now. It's wonderfully miserable outside.

A perfect week to make my debut return to the bike!

It seems like Monday was forever ago; what a week. Unfortunately, we lost two riders this week - memorial rides are being planned, looking like the primary ride will be Wednesday night next week at 6:30PM from Longview College Parking Lot.
I don't have all of the details, but I am planning on being there.

It's just sad, every once in a while this kind of thing happens.

I know it's random, I know it's rare - and more people die in car wrecks annually and on the highways than any number of bicyclists do -- but still, it was someone's Dad, someone's grandpa, and the girl was someone's daughter. It sucks. I mean, common, she was training for her first MS-150, a bike ride that is held to help other people. Granted, some of us ride it for different reasons, but I'd like to think that we're out there for the cause - and for a 14 year old to be thinking of anyone other then themselves in this day and age is rare and commendable. It just sucks, no matter the cause, when you hear of the passing of someone that was trying to do the right thing. A combination of random events and variables that ultimately led to an untimely meeting on Raytown Road. It just sucks - have I said that?

Then I hear about this supposed anti-bike blogger in Kansas City? Well, I investigated it, and it's not specifically anti-bike. It's kinda of "anti" in general, but the guys apparent intent is basically to drum up controversy on just about any subject, several dozen times a-day in some cases on one subject or another. Some of it is actually quite funny. However, since this latest post hits close to the belt for me anyways it's hard to read it without prejudice.
What's really unfortunate is that his initial comments on the incident from Monday (what does he sit and watch the news and just type away about stuff?) seemed to mirror the likely initial notions of probably half of the viewership of the TV station that reported it; if they had been in an SUV, they would have survived. It SUCKS, but the state of the roads today seem to mirror this notion, and if you are not driving the latest GM gas-beast, you might as well not exist. I feel this way sometimes when I'm driving my little gas-miser of a car. These people are out to kill me. I tell you, NOTHING would excite me more than $10.00 per gallon gas. I would LOVE it. Bikes aren't the problem - cars are.

Dammit, already, this kind of B.S. has to end. Some days I love this town, some days I freaking hate it -- but it seems like it's getting harder and harder to be a cyclist out here. It's already hard in many cities, sure. Keep on ridin', right?

I just have to throw up my hands on this. Some teen in a basement with a keyboard got me all wriled up, ok? Fine. Comedy is in the eye in the beholder and much like what happened with Michael Richards, I just can't watch Seinfeld the same way anymore. Some of what this guy was saying about other stuff, like the Sprint Center, light rail, etc., WAS funny as hell and probably correct. But, he lost me with this cycling stuff. I know it's probably tongue in cheek, but clearly he's never lost a friend, or he isn't old enough to gain a mature perspective on the value of human life. The line HAS to be drawn. Robin Williams doesn't do this kinda crap, and neither does home-grown journalist Jason Whitlock, whose early career works focused on exactly this kind of sardonic wit and reverse psychological idiom - someone gets seriously hurt, tho, and the PROFESSIONALS act appropriately. Bicycles involved or not, we're talking about PEOPLE here. Grow up, asshole.

No, I'm not giving you the link.

It's kinda funny that all of this comes on the completion of a new trail section that FINALLY takes me out of harms way with regards to US-69 highway and Metcalf, and Antioch and 123rd. After over two years of rolling the dice (with no close calls, thank you.) I can finally kiss these horrid sections of the suburban grid GOODBYE, and disappear into the trail system. BUt, part of me wants to just keep riding the roads, you know -- putting it out there, showing that we belong, maybe setting the bar for other cyclists that might NOT follow the rules quite right. The other part of me knows I have kids and a wife to ride home to, and after rolling the dice in this town as a bicycle commuter for almost ten years now it might be time to just log a few trail miles and reduce my risk.

Is there anything WRONG with risk reduction? I'm still on the bike, still saving gas, still showing my co-workers it CAN be done, and I still enjoy every mile. The people whose minds I'm *NEVER* gonna change will just have that much less of a chance to hit me from behind. Still, I feel like part of my actions, part of my abandonment of the roads, raises something of a white flag to the automotive world. I give up. You win. Fine, the roads ARE yours. NOW what? If trail culture really IS the wave of the future, if we really AREN'T gonna get on-road bike lanes and tougher penalties for drivers that hit cyclists, if we really AREN'T ever gonna get more Share The Road signs, what chances do we really have to keeping our rights to the roads after all? If big groups of riders are just gonna keep running all the stop signs, if riding five abreast is a trick that "serious" roadies CAN'T un-learn, what fate really awaits us?!? If otherwise intelligent people take their new bikes home and remove EVERY last stitch of reflective and safety equipment from their bikes for the sake of fashion, and THEN dress in gaudy spandex corporate-advertising shrink-wrap suits, is there hope for ANY of us? What IF the good folks at MoBikeFed and KCBikeFed don't get anything passed, and we keep seeing political resistance? What if the people that refuse to sacrifice an extra three feet of their backyards and precious landscaping needed for bike lane additions simply refuse to fold? What if the on-road bike lanes in Shawnee are just a fluke? Now what?

People get into cars every day. People that multi-task while driving. People that drive with the newspaper up against the steering wheel. People that had a fight with their (blank), and are pissed at the wheel. People that TEXT. People that are eating, talking on the phone, zoned off in a conference call. Is it smart for *ANY* of us to add another variable to these idiot's already-impaired situations? Will they see us? Will they react? Will I get killed today?

Worry. Fret. Panic. Ride scared and assume nothing.

And then raise your middle finger to the whole thing, and just ride to work.
Use the trail, because they finally built something for US. Use the roads because we have the right, but DO IT RIGHT so we don't LOSE that right.

Do everything you can. GET MAD. EARN IT.

I'm not giving up. I'm still gonna ride, and write, and show up, and protest, and rant, and fight for my right to be on the roads. And if someday the dice roll and they come up snake-eyes, my time will come, and I will die doing what I loved, and standing up for what I believed in. Will it be sad for my kids and wife? ABSOLUTELY -- but I don't get to pick when or where my time comes. No one does. Be smart, but don't run and hide under a rock! Noble causes are seldom majority causes. While the rest of the world continues to give up around us, WE WILL still be riding. It's a risk, yes, but so is getting behind the wheel of a car -- or BREATHING for that matter. Green Beans from China are a RISK. My record will show that one week in July I wrecked on my bike, and a week later I got in a car wreck. Sometimes it just doesn't matter, and none of us can control it.

Wake up, take a deep breath, and live your life the BEST you can. Do what you love. Hug the ones that care about you. And then get out there, because it's the right thing to do. Life is too short as it is.

I've rambled long enough. I have to ride to work now.

1 comment:

Noah said...

Hell of a rant, but if you look at his other posts about bicycling you can tell his views are at least the same every time. One post he made recently darn near condoned physical violence against us. That's the one that sent me off the deep end. He's paid to be an a-hole, though. He does his job well.

I hope to make it to the memorial. We'll see what Wednesday holds.