Tuesday, May 1, 2007

May 1, bike trip #1.

Just an FYI, now that things are growing again, “Bloom” is back in action, too. There’s a new, long post up there this morning. Rumor has it that my co-collaborator may even post something soon, too. Ooo! http://webloom.blogspot.com

I am so determined to be in a good mood today—it’s no joking matter. Do you ever have those days in which, despite of everything, you are so staunchly determined to stay in a positive mood that it more or less ends up working out?

Last night as I was getting ready for bed, the news tried to ruin my morning. I bought an inexpensive rear rack for my bike (silver which looks darn slick with my silver-and-blue bicycle) last week, so that I could use a pannier pack for my work stuff. Well, since right now, biking on tutoring days is a no-no (I don’t want to arrive all stinky and sweaty), today was going to be my first ride to work ever since I weenied out last fall and started taking the bus. Of course, the weather reporters had RAIN RAIN RAIN in the forecast. Boo! Hisss!!!

I woke up this morning and decided to put on a rain coat and ride anyhow. The weather was brisk and dry. Cloudy, but certainly not raining. Setting up the pannier bag was a bit of a wrestle, but after switching sides a few times to determine which would be best, I got it secured and set off for work.

The ride was good. Chatty bikers shared a laugh in the bike lane behind me, and no out-of-control drivers hassled me on the road. I didn’t pop a flat (like last time) and I wasn’t even too sweaty when I got to work. The only hitch in the get-along of my good morning was a less-than-pleasant punked-out biker I encountered when crossing the Steel Bridge.

Now, please know I’m not the fastest biker. I wear a helmet, and have my blinking rear light going throughout my trip. I stop at lights, and I don’t intimidate pedestrians. I realize that may make me somewhat of a pansy or an annoyance to those of a zippier, “harder-core” ilk, but I’m respectful to that population, too. I ride as far to the right as circumstances allow, and before I swing out, or to the left, I always check to make sure that I’m not going to make someone else’s life too unduly difficult. But I don’t go fast. At least right now—I’m out-of-biking-shape, and my confidence on sharp corners isn’t where it was last fall, especially when I’m negotiating the new weight distribution of a one-sided saddle bag. I don’t care if other bikers pass me. But I also try not to be one of those lookie-loo’s who gets in the way of commuters. I realize I’m riding at a busy time of day, and lots of people have places to go.

Anyhow, as I’m tooling across the Steel Bridge this morning, zip from behind comes a biker. Before I even see him, I hear “Just ride your f-ing bike!” What? He zooms past me. I don’t want to stereotype him as a bike messenger, because there are plenty of polite messengers out there who wouldn’t yell mean things at someone as they were biking past, but the way he dressed, the bike he was riding, and the WAY he rode suggested that to me. I also don’t know if I did something that made his life more difficult—I suppose that’s entirely possible. But geez, dude, come on! That was totally uncalled for.

Maybe I shouldn’t, but I tend to take things that strangers yell at me for no apparent reason in a rather hard way. It always upsets me. I’ve tried to be dismissive about it in the past, but it really gets under my skin. And definitely has the potential to set an otherwise fine, normal day off to a grumpy start. I was stewing about this, and feeling a little shocked this morning. Coming up with good retorts in my head, sizing up the other bikers that were heading my way, basically getting stuck in a negative cycle of trying to get past Mr. Nasty. Not to mention trying to figure out what he meant… Uh, I am just f-ing riding my bike?

Anyhow, the whole point of this stupid story is that right after this happened and I was feeling all sad and wounded, another biker passes me, warning me that he was coming up on my left. As he goes past, he looks over, smiles, and says, “How’s it going?” Not in a creepy way, not in a hitting on me way, just in a “Hi! Have a great day!” sort of way. And you know what? It didn’t entirely make up for the other guy, but it came close. And you know what else? It’s been a good day in the end.

Thanks, Portland, for at least throwing both sides of the spectrum at me. I appreciate the contrast.

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