March Madness.

The sketch above sums up how I felt last Sunday morning, as well as pretty much every other morning for the past month. Every fiber of my being has been screaming to be outside, “Bring me some Spring-like weather!”

February, shortest month of the year, dragged along forever, freezing my keister day after day after day. March sure didn’t hold much better promise on the first of the month, but here we are just a few short days later and all I see are blue skies, fair winds, and even fairer weather. Ahhh!

Heading out after work yesterday, I decided to get in a 50km route. Despite diligently boring myself to tears on an indoor trainer, I am once again reminded that there is no substitute for riding up and down real hills! Between that reality and the ten pound Christmas donut that has graced my waistline for the past two months, I found myself standing and mashing on hills instead of gracefully spinning up the incline in a comfortably seated riding position. I figure it’s going to take a good few weeks to get my legs back, and a bit more than that, combined with some additional perspiration to dissolve the unwelcome donut.

These are unwelcome realities. But I experience them each and every year, following my month or so of sloth-like behaviors. They come as no surprise. What does bewilder me though, is how quickly drivers forget about cyclists on the road. For the most part motorists in my area are overtly considerate to riders. But throw a few weeks of gray, dreary weather, a bit of cold and snow in their path, and a sort of amnesia tends to settle in. On that first sunny 60 degree day, some drivers appear to be shocked, unsettled, nettled, agitated, and a bit aggressive when confronted with a cyclist in “their” lane.

So it was yesterday. Cars that at any other time of the year would normally give adequate (or better) berth to me sure seemed to be passing nudgingly close. One car, three lanes to my left, leaned on the horn for a good twenty seconds, glaring at me the entire time, and in doing so very nearly rear ended a vehicle in front of him. At least four others felt the need to militantly use their respective horns to warn me I was inconsiderately riding a bicycle upon their road. Two passengers yelled and flipped me the bird. One thoughtless fellow, behind me at a four way stop, not only went out of turn – which befuddled his fellow drivers, stopped and waiting their turn to proceed – but he decided to slog past me, even though I was occupying the majority of the lane, and then turned in front of me just as I was beginning to advance. To their credit, the other drivers looked at him just as incredulously as I did.

I seldom ride with a helmet. Yes, I know that’s stupid – but there you have it: I’m a bit stupid. Don’t follow my example, please. Yesterday I was glad I did decide to don the plastic cranium bucket though. I will likely do so again today and tomorrow. And if I’m smart, I should really consider doing so on a regular basis.

Traffic will get better as the weather continues to follow suit, and as other riders become more prevalent. With a few notable exceptions, the motorists around here aren’t overwhelming hateful of cyclists. But in the meantime, it’s a good idea to acknowledge that drivers have seen a whole lot less of us in the past few months, just as cyclists very likely have had much less interaction with vehicles. For now, it’s March Madness, so be careful out there.

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5 thoughts on “March Madness.

  1. graveldoc says:

    Glad you got out; sorry to hear of the rude drivers. I can understand driver’s “amnesia” regarding not seeing cyclists out for awhile. What I can’t accept is that some feel they are entitled to being so rude. Where I live most drivers are quite considerate; though there is that rare/occasional “one”.

  2. I’m glad to hear that your normal experience is similar to my own. Aside from the occasional bout of cluelessness, I can only number three encounters over the past fifteen or twenty years that devolved into a serious situation. That said, I feel that the majority of inconsiderate behaviors tend to belong to two categories. The first is young drivers, who are being equally inconsiderate not only of cyclists, but also of pedestrians and other drivers. I chalk this up to youth and inexperience, and fortunately something most will grow out of. The other I attribute to that small group of motorists who feel an outrageous sense of entitlement. They do and say stupid things, and bear watching more for their stupidity or rash maneuvers than for what I view as truly hateful behavior. I believe their rudeness comes out of a profound ignorance and wonder if they’d say or act the same way if they could see a video of themselves doing so. Yes, there are a few sociopaths out there, and yes I’ve had unpleasant encounters with three of them, but it’s my good fortune to live in a place where they are true exceptions to the rule.

  3. katzenfinch says:

    It was 49°F and sunny yesterday afternoon and I had the day off, so I got in a rural ride of about an hour or so. It felt great to be out, and none of the few cars I encountered expressed annoyance that I was. The weather forecast for the rest of the week predicts highs in the 50s and 60s, so I anticipate resuming my daily bike commute.

    As significant to me as the warming weather is the arrival of Daylight Saving Time. People who now suddenly find themselves leaving for work before daybreak hate it, but my shift runs from 11 a.m. until 7 p.m. and I much prefer riding home when it’s light out. I’ve noticed that even when I’m wearing reflective clothing and running bright headlights and taillight, motorists become completely unhinged when they encounter a cyclist on “their” roads after nightfall. Blaring horns and unintelligible shouted epithets are more unsettling when it’s dark.

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