If I were being honest about it I’d have to say that I might have a bit of a problem with drinking too much. The fact of how entirely too much I tend to drink should be proof enough of the problem, but honestly the whole sleep thing might be even better.
Monday and Tuesday are two nights I regularly have the kids, and then whatever other days their mom wants to bring them here she does as well, so that while there isn’t an extremely regular schedule it’s close enough to work for us. And when the kids are here I don’t drink much. Last night I didn’t drink any at all, which shouldn’t really be a thing, good or bad, but the problem is that I couldn’t get to sleep.
The only time I flat out can not sleep are those nights when I don’t drink at all, and by can’t sleep I pretty much mean that. I was in bed by one, early for me, but I was up early yesterday and was tired enough. Shortly after two I read a book of short stories by Octavia E. Butler, and somewhere around four thirty I gave up entirely and made coffee.
Here we come to another problem, that historically speaking, I’ve always had trouble sleeping. I generally don’t get a lot of sleep unless it’s winter and I’m in my cold, no sun depressive state, which tends to see me lying in bed with no will to get up, though of course that’s still after I was up horribly late the night before and with a couple of drinks in me.
And it all leaves me feeling like I need to cut back on drinking but worried that I’ll sleep even less. And so I’ll likely not drink at all for a couple of days, I will sleep barely more the next couple of nights, and then the next night that I don’t have the kids I’ll drink too much again just so I can guarantee myself a full night of sleep and just start the whole damn vicious circle all over again.
The concept of quitting drinking entirely is a horrible beast that I will beat dead with a stick. I really need to make myself practice moderation and hope that I can get to a healthy place where I can enjoy a couple of beers rather than needing daily to drink them all. Add that to the laundry list of all the other shit I need to fix though.
Tomorrow is the big day. It will be the first day in a couple of months that I’ll have all to myself, and I’m kind of excited. I also have really big plans.
I really don’t have big plans as such. I do plan to ride my bike most of the day. I also plan to drink an as yet undetermined amount of beer. I will definitely eat food. I need to take ol’ gears and rack and fenders to the bike shop and get him looked after. Somehow I need to get a bag of cat litter and change the litter box, and I have a ridiculous number of dishes waiting to be washed.
The dishes I could do tonight and save myself the trouble tomorrow, and I still might, though the later it gets the less likely that proposition becomes. I could also do the cat litter, but there’s really no way in hell I’m getting out again tonight before bed, and it’s obviously even less likely I’ll do so after I get to bed.
Thursday I expect to have the kids, and I work till seven, so working then feeding kids will be my priorities, and I certainly won’t want the dishes I’ll have ignored for two and a half days waiting for me. And I mention this because I really should be washing them already knowing I won’t likely do it tomorrow either.
But seriously, all I really have to do tomorrow to have a great day is ride my bike in spring like weather. While neither of those are absolutely guaranteed the forecast is looking just about right.
So, I just tried to backspace a period that turned out to be something on my screen.
I tried twice today to write about these two moments I had this past week, two separate instances on two different days. Twice I was almost hit by a truck. Specifically I was almost hit by fairly large pickup trucks, though any truck can look big if it’s moving toward you.
I say almost, but in reality I was paying attention, and that’s the problem. I learned some time ago a great way to not get hit by cars and/or trucks. Look the driver in the eye.
In the first near miss the driver and truck were to my left, parked on the street facing the same direction I was going. We were on a quiet residential street, part of my usual route to work and a stretch of road I’ve probably ridden well over a hundred times.
The second was yet another truck. I was on a road that runs through the residential area, a two lane that sees light to moderate traffic. I was about to turn onto my road to my left, while the truck was coming from my road, also turning left.
Both times I attempted to look the driver in the eye. Both times I stayed well within their line of sight, assuming they looked in all the directions from which anyone else would likely be moving toward them.
In the first instance I was already taking somewhat evasive action. I was approaching from behind and saw his rear lights come on. I may even have seen the change, red-clear-red, of an automatic transmission being shifted from P to D. Though I was within my legal space and certainly well within the speed limit, I should have been fine, but as I attempted and failed to look him in the eye I began to move to my right. I was nearly past him when I realized he was moving. I again looked at him, and this time we made eye contact.
Back to the second time, I watched the driver look to his left as I approached. I was near the center line at this point and had checked to be sure there were no cars behind me. I’ll signal a turn if there are cars, but if not then I won’t bother. The truck didn’t need a signal as I approached and was near enough that he didn’t have room to pull out regardless of my intentions. And since he was within my line of sight I was able to watch him as I began my turn and realized he was starting to make his turn. I was not more than a couple of feet from the corner of his truck when he finally looked far enough to the right to make eye contact. And by corner I do mean driver side.
Both times, as we made eye contact, I watched their faces change from whatever they’d been thinking to the realization that suddenly there was a person in the path they were steering their vehicles. I wonder if they think I’m just suddenly there? Or do they think I’m that fast that I just sped up and into their path? Did they see a person on his way to or from work? Did they look shocked because they realized that they’d totally missed a step in basic vehicle operation and almost hit someone? Did they essentially just see bicycle?
These two moments keep sticking in my mind. I’m not really sure how close I truly was to being hit in either moment, or maybe I just tell myself this. Either time could easily have turned out differently. And I almost feel like I have to assume that neither of them learned anything. I assume they blame me as people so often only see cyclists in whatever way they’re opinions and experiences nudge them. Maybe they immediately fired off a tweet about it and “this is why people hate bikers” hashtag. I can’t really know, so I make assumptions, and since I’m generally cynical and jaded my assumptions reflect that.
Either way I tried to help them learn. I yelled at them the thing I yell in these sorts of circumstances.
YOU HAVE TO LOOK ALL THE DIRECTIONS!
Totally off topic, but a couple of years ago, a woman illegally parked on the side of the street started moving without looking and almost hit me. I yelled into her window to use her mirrors. Some asshole on the sidewalk yelled at me that I should wear a helment.
If you drive a car, please take my advice and look all the directions. If it’s at all reasonable to think that someone may be approaching from a direction, then you should look in that direction. Even if it’s highly unlikely or even illegal for someone to come from a direction, if it’s possible then spare it a moment of your time, and turn your head and eyes that slight degree.
If you ride a bike then heed my other advice. Look ’em in the eye. Most people, when they actually look and see you, will make their own adjustments around you. They don’t want to hit you and have their own issues to attend to. And if you don’t have the assurance that they’ve seen you then you can plan your escape.
Even though I ride a bike and don’t own a car getting my kids to school has been pretty easy. When the weather is warm enough we all ride bikes. About halfway through the trip my oldest son leaves me and his younger brother. He continues to his mother’s house, leaves his bike, and then walks the last couple of blocks to school.
From that point the younger and I turn off and continue all the way to his school. We wheel ourselves around to the back at which point I complain mildly about the people blocking the bike racks with their cars, though we’ve always managed to get his bike parked and locked.
During the colder months we’ve used the local transit system. All the buses have bike racks on the front, so when we meet the bus, about a block from my apartment, I’m able to throw my bike on the front. The bus drops the older son at the end of his mom’s street and continues on the route to drop younger and I about a block from his school. I walk him to the steps that take him to the front door, and then I’m on my bike and gone. I can even hit the grocery store on my way home if I need to and save myself a trip later.
But it’s finally spring, and we seemed to have reached and crossed that point where the weather wants to stay cold just a little longer, and even at seven in the morning it is no longer too cold for the kids to ride. I don’t make the kids ride when it’s less than forty degrees. My older son would be okay, mostly because he puts up with a lot more than his brother. But riding in the cold makes younger son miserable, and that’s no way to start a school day, so I stick with the transit system and freezing my own ass.
I’ve had the kids the last three nights, so I’ve gotten them to school all three days this week so far. Monday was too cold to ride bikes, but yesterday and today have been cool but warm enough. So the kids are finally having to ride bikes again, and starting the day with a bike ride is both great exercise and a great way to warm up for your day, but it’s also fun. Riding a bike is awesome and fun no matter how often I have to remind my younger.
And while that’s all well and good I’ve got a complaint. This isn’t based on a scientific study but on my own experience, so you may disagree. And there may well be factors I’m not thinking of, so I’m open to discussion.
People driving cars in the morning, rush hour time I suppose, drive more like assholes than they tend to throughout the later parts of the day. This is on my mind because of several events that happened in less than two hours combined over the last two days.
The ride from my apartment to the end of our route at the elementary school takes about twenty to twenty five minutes. I usually spend about fifteen minutes riding back home. As we ride more and the kids get used to riding again I imagine our first leg will get slightly shorter, but it’s still going to be mostly uphill there and down back. Other than one main road most of our trip is back roads through neighborhoods, places people should be driving more slowly and carefully anyway.
I should also point out that, like many towns/cities/states, my town has a law requiring cars/drivers to give at least a three foot berth when passing a cyclist. Any time a car passes me, according to the law, they should not be less than three feet away. Three feet feels like a great space. It gives me time to recognize the car near my space while also allowing enough wiggle room, just in case. It seems easy enough to understand, so I have to believe either a lot of people are ignorant or are assholes.
At least three cars passed me yesterday without giving me even a foot, and because I was riding with my son they also did not give him any more than that foot.
Think about it this way. Some people think they are so important that even a ten year old child doesn’t deserve their concern, not even enough for them to slow down their ton of steel even a little or move more than a foot from him.
I can’t always know when a car approaches from behind me. I usually do hear them, or often I will see them as I tend to keep my head up and moving around. I want to know what’s going on around me. I look for cars, watch for brake or back up lights when they aren’t moving so that I’ll know if they’re about to move. I tell the kids about these actions and try to remind them enough so that it becomes habit for them. I teach them to stop at stop signs and red lights. I teach them to ride as far to the right as is reasonable. I also teach them that they are within their rights to take as much of the lane as they feel they need which is completely legal and reasonable.
As cyclist we are road users, but as cyclists we are also open and vulnerable. Perhaps that’s what drivers fail to realize, that vulnerability. Perhaps they just don’t realize how easy they can hurt or kill us. Perhaps they don’t realize that slowing down and being respectful of us will likely never cost them more than about five seconds.
Five seconds! And so often even that is just too much, and the safety of my children is just not as important as the drivers need to drive fast and never have to slow down ever.
If you can’t afford a couple of seconds here and there to treat cyclists with respect and safety then perhaps you need to leave earlier. Or maybe you just don’t deserve to drive. Or maybe you just don’t think about it. Maybe you just flat out don’t care.
But even better, let’s all keep our heads up and our eyes moving. We all have places to go regardless of how we choose to get there. You have a couple of seconds to spare to help your fellow citizens stay safe, especially the younger and more vulnerable.
If anyone read here they might have noticed a distinct lack of posting over the past few months. My computer decided to live in safe mode, apparently forever. I googled the problem and found a couple of likely scenarios, but I didn’t then have the money or the patience to give too much of a shit. And then I got a little money, and rather than worry about a desktop I mostly didn’t like much I ran out to the store and replaced it completely.
I’m the proud new owner of a pretty red laptop that, so far, is working as well as one would expect.
And now I’m at the coffee shop. My usual scone has been eaten, and I’m halfway through my cup of coffee. I don’t have to be at work for almost three hours. Fresh new blog seems like a reasonable way to go right now, so here it is.
I’ve tried doing some writing in the interim, but without a computer that means pen and paper, and while I used to be able to fill far too many pages with my scribbling I’ve apparently lost that desire. Also it makes my hand hurt some. Also not being able to post it on a blog or other service means I can’t make myself care too much. If no one is seeing it then what’s the point?
Sure, it’s probably good for me to get some of these thoughts out of my head, and sure it probably helps me organize my brain and my thoughts. But again, work and I, even easy work, don’t always get along.
I’m pretty sure this is as much as I’m gonna write right now. But I’ve begun again. This is a thing I’m pretty sure I’m going to keep doing. Now to build a following and take over the world.
Perhaps I’m wrong, but I would assume most bikes being ridden regularly have a freewheel which means that when you stop pedaling the bike keeps moving. Or you can think of it as the pedals propel the bike by spinning the wheels, but the wheels are able to turn without the pedals having to.
On a fixed gear that is not the case. The gear, or the sprocket, the toothy ring thing on the back wheel, is affixed so that the wheel and pedals are unable to move independently of each other. Or you can think of it as the wheels turning force the pedals to turn.
So you may look at the title and, knowing the likelihood that I’m talking about bikes, think I’ve committed an oxymoron. Or you can think of jumbo shrimp and government intelligence. Yeah, those are funny.
I recently had to change out a tube on my fixed gear. My two road bike both feature Presta valves which are slightly different than the more commonly (again I may be wrong) used Schrader type. I won’t go into the differences here, so you can think whatever you want. My own point, and my problem, is that I’m not nearly as good as I’d like to be at attaching the pump to the Presta valves. I always seem to get it almost on, or I manage to get it on but at an angle.
I did exactly this recently on my fixed gear and bent the little wire part of the Presta valve. I was putting air in the tires with no intention, at the time, to ride it. I didn’t want it sitting around on flat tires which would then slowly implode from being flattened under the wheel. I was in the middle of random cleaning and actually had moved all the bikes around the tiny apartment in order to clean where they usually go. And i managed to not only get that angle but also to then bend it then eventually break the little wire part while trying to bend it back into shape.
The good news was that the broken valve didn’t cause the tire to lose air any more quickly than it usually does. The bad news was my regular going and carrying bike started having the troubles that have caused me to park it for now. I rode the fixed for a while until I could feel the sponginess in the tires and knew it was time to make the repair.
I actually have at least three tubes that will fit the bike, and only two of them now need to be patched to be useful. I did successfully patch one and put it onto the fixie’s wheel. I gave the tire a number of good squeezes several times over the next couple of hours before I needed to actually ride anywhere, and I was satisfied that the patch was holding.
What I didn’t fully consider was chain tension when putting the wheel back on. I did consider it, and I felt that I was doing all right, and I’m fortunate to have been so fortunate. I’ve only ridden the bike a couple of times since the tire repair, but very quickly I realized there was an issue.
Another side track, but with the pedal/wheel/turn thing about the fixed gear you have a whole other type of speed control. Going down too big a slope may mean your legs are spinning at a ridiculous speed, but outside of that the bike will only go as fast as you let it. You can exert pressure into the pedal rotation, but even if you don’t a rolling bike inertias itself and your legs go round. However, if you apply pressure as the pedals come up on the back side of the rotation you can slow the bike. This can make for some real fun controlled speed situations. Also this should not be confused with coaster brakes which I personally remember from childhood BMX bikes. This is an actual brake that is applied by back pedaling as opposed to just the pressure of pedaling against the rotation forcing the rotation to slow.
Knowing this I’ll add that, before I messed with the back wheel, there was little noticeable play between pedaling forward and back pedaling. Think of it as your steering wheel and the mushy space between turning it left or right when the wheel is turning but the actual wheels are not. I knew this amount of play was a bad idea, and my initial reasoning, still true, is that it would put undue pressure on the chain and quite likely the teeth on both the front and back toothed gear type things.
What I didn’t realize, until it happened on my ride back from the grocery store, is that that little bit of extra slack in the chain can help the chain skip off of either the chain ring or the cog. And since there’s already no freewheel, part of this might just mean the chain jams up in the rear cog and causes it to essentially bind up, wedge in so tight the back wheel seizes and stops turning.
You might first notice, as I did, that there is a problem, because you’re pedaling has suddenly become ineffectual, much like pedaling a bike with free wheel when the bikes speed is greater than the amount of speed you can create by pedaling, think going down any slope in too low a gear.
If you’re lucky you’ll think quick and begin to apply the brake before the rear wheel stops turning and starts skidding, think quick stop in a car before anti lock brakes if you’re old enough.
What this all meant in the moment was that I walked about halfway back from the store, but I did get some pictures. I never want to stop riding to take pictures, though I should. I often see things that would/could make an interesting photographic image. I also like my pretty bike and to take pictures of it. So it was nice to have an excuse.
The moral of this story is maintenance. Know your bike. Know how these parts fit together and work. Squeeze the tires once in a while. Spin the pedals. Wiggle the spokes. Mostly be aware and fix shit early. I realized as I skidded to an early stop how close I could have come to a really bad accident. Not more than fifty feet ahead of me was the bend in the trail under the big tree where the damp coat of leaves still mostly covers the greenway. It’s a slick mess. There’s also the straightaway that ends in the slope and then the quick dash across five lanes of road that’s dead mostly on a Sunday, but there’s always an asshole somewhere.
Sudden and unexpected (redundant to go with your oxymoron from earlier) skidding of bike, given any number of variables, could have made this incident much worse. I didn’t lose my groceries, and I also didn’t lose my face.
And for a brief and scary moment, my fixed gear bike had a freewheel, sorta.
fwiw, finally got around to fixing the issue and found the spot on my tire where it skidded. And of course I now get to add at least the one tire to list of things to replace. And this is a whole other story about wanting to maybe replace the tires so I can have something a little fatter than 23c, like the Thick Slicks on my other, slightly more useful but less fun to ride bike. But that would mean different wheels, and that’s not in the budget for a while, a long while.
Today kinda sucked, but being a Monday that’s no surprise.
The weather sucked, and I got both kids to school late due to my inability to wake myself and wake them. We caught the later bus however, and I threw my bike on the rack on the front so I could get back home as soon as the ten year old was safely signed in.
I hit the grocery store on the way back so that the kids, who would later arrive back at my apartment a couple of hours before me, would be able to feed themselves food while also feeding themselves whatever video games they decided on. And I’m remembering that I forgot to ask about homework.
I nearly made myself late for work just by running late already and the morning call of the bathroom. I didn’t have time to make coffee at home so settled on iced tea before climbing back on the bike.
I trusted the rain to hold off, and it did. I arrived at work at least ninety percent dry. Of course the first thing I did, shedding layers all the way from the door, was start a pot of coffee. That done I whisked my backpack and layers upstairs to the kitchen.
I opened a couple of cooler doors, peeked at the prep that was eventually lying in wait. I spied the extra bunch of dishes I’d need to put away that should have already been put away. I didn’t yet notice that no meat had been pulled (haha) but that was to come as part of the inventory everything part of my typical Monday. Like the dishes, the meat pulling should have already been done.
I wasn’t yet on the clock, and this is all part of my Monday plan that always seems to involve arriving at work just in time to be on time but needing coffee and a cigarette before I can actually do any work. So I don’t clock in until I get a smoke and some caffeine moving through the supply line. As usual I clocked in late, though far from proving a disservice to my employer I merely stole hours (.5 of them) from my own pay.
And then, as I counted and weighed, I began finding random things that just didn’t get done the night before. I had a list of grievances, and the further I looked the more things I found that bothered me.
And then I grated a chunk of skin at the base of my thumb, though I managed to keep the skin rather than add it to the cheese. We have no bandaids the size or shape to deal with this, so in typical restaurant fashion I pulled a glove over it.
Of course we only have gloves size lg, and my hands are a md. This just means I pull the cuff until the glove is really tight on my hand then twist the cuff until I can tuck it under itself. At this point it’s snug enough on my hand, almost, and is slowly cutting off the circulation.
Better that of course than later when I decided to cut into the roast beef rather than just pull the packaging open at the conveniently supplied opening point. And because today sucked the knife slid too easily through more layers of plastic than I meant to open as well as more finger.
I’m only happy that the angle was such that instead of going into my finger the blade went along it. And now, the bandaid shortage and cut placement means paper towel and masking tape.
I flipped everyone off for the next hour, partly because makeshift bandaid is stiff and partly because fuck all ya’ll. Later at home I as able to replace it with a real bandaid (store brand adhesive bandage) which will leave a sticky adhesive mess later when a small amount of water proves too much for the overall integrity of the store brand adhesive bandage.
Finally, because of the aforementioned broken spoke (different post/different topic) I’ve once again switched bicycle pedals and will be relying on the fixie for the time being. Additionally I’ve gotten some really rough feeling feelings from somewhere on the bike with the broken spoke, and I’m hoping I’m just WebMDing myself into worrying about the bottom bracket.
But it could totally mean I need to clean and lube the bike’s naughty bits. Did I mention the part where I have trouble attaching the pump to presta valves and may have broken the end of one of my tires on the bike I’m committing too? I am going to change out the tube, probably soon. Promise. Either way my bikes are all conspiring against me. I should probably finally finish getting the mountain bike finally finished if this is how we’re going to be.
My point here of course being that I haven’t hurt myself enough. So of course I have to try to remove a pedal while leaning over the bike from the opposite side. It just wouldn’t be doing anything with a wrench and a bike if something didn’t give just in time for you rake your knuckles across the chainring.
Also there are two tiny and mysterious cuts on the knuckles of my two middle fingers on my left hand. I have no idea where/when/how they happened. But such is the life in the kitchen.
Finally, as of now, I should have been in bed ages ago. I’m getting no sleep and have to wake up in time to figure out the logistics of getting the kids to school on time this time. It’ll probably be raining, and we’ll do the bus again.
I kinda like riding the bus with the kids though. I wish it were longer. It’s fun to be trapped with them with no option for anything but to be. I should ride the bus more.
Green Day singer Billie Joe Armstrong is older than me. He’s only a few months older, so it barely counts, but I did get to point that out to my fifteen year old. I’d assumed I had him by a couple of years, but lucky me, or something.
Care for a longish story about why I now know this? Of course you do.
I don’t remember now how it came up, but recently the Baby Momma informed me that our oldest has gotten into Green Day. I’m not sure if he knew before tonight that I was once a Green Day fan. Sadly, I was young and dumb and too punk for this shit, and after they got really big I decided that they were sell outs, a term I don’t really use anymore, I think. I quit listening to them because I can be kinda moralistic that way. I do hope I’ve gotten a little wiser as I’ve grown older.
But really where I went tonight was looking for some music so that I could wash the last few dishes. The 15yo was laying on the sofa, probably texting his girlfriend.
I asked him if he’d heard of Norah Jones, and though I’m sure he’s heard her he didn’t think so. That’s cool, as she’s probably not generally his thing, but I enjoy a lot of what she’s done.
Recently Billie Joe and Norah released an album which is a cover of an album by The Everly Brothers. The whole thing is basically a bunch of old folk songs, so we now have an album that’s a cover of an album that was a bunch of covers. And having listened to the album I’m sure to listen again, but really I just wanted some music and to throw something out there for my son.
We listened to Long Time Gone, and I decided then to get his input on a Green Day song we should listen to. He couldn’t readily think of something, so I just went to an old song that I remembered and played that. I was impatient to get back to my dishes.
I settled, without really considering which song I was picking, on When I Come Around, and I had to pause the dish washing for a moment and watch the video, remembering it from when it was new. I explained to him that these guys were my age but was then curious as to how close we were. As I mentioned I’d assumed I as a bit older, but I was proven wrong. Thanks, Wikipedia.
And then, the choice of song really got to me as I remembered the crush.
I told him the story that, though I didn’t really come out till much later, the early nineties were when I first realized that I was gay. Part of realizing that, for me, was also realizing that I had a huge crush on Billie Joe Armstrong. He was so hot back then. I say was because I’m not sure about the whole look he’s come up with, but I’m sure if I were to get back into the music it would grow on me.
I’m left considering awkwardness. He was on his way to bed anyway, and I’m sure I kept him up a few more minutes than he’d planned on being up, so there wasn’t really time to judge it. It was a least a tiny bit awkward for me because discussing being gay sometimes is, and talking to your fifteen year old son can be as well. And of course for said fifteen year old it can be awkward to hear a parent mention the crush you once had on a singer they’re currently into.
I also don’t care. Billie Joe Armstrong is slightly older than me. That’s neither good nor bad, but every time someone is younger than me a puppy angel chokes a little bit on a cricket. Not bad choking, but a little bit.
So, apparently those tiny, gray bugs that I thought were new are actually some sort of stink bug, possibly the baby version of the larger, shield shaped bastards.
Whenever the kids aren’t at or aren’t going to be at my place for a couple of days I kinda let myself go. The sink is full of dishes. I’ve been smoking inside. There are two days worth of beer bottles on top of the stove, still not rinsed or anywhere close to the growing pile of recycling.
So it’s no surprise that there might be a bug or two in the house. It’s also cold out, and tonight we are probably going to see our temperature drop into the teens. Bugs like warm as much as we do I imagine.
I was probably using the mouse, pointing and clicking my little ass off, and as I removed my hand from the mouse/table area, I felt something between my last two fingers. I tried at first to just flick it off with my thumb, but it was stuck somewhat. Then I looked closer and saw a now familiar bug but thought nothing of it.
The bugs seem new because I’ve never noticed them before recently. They are small and almost square in shape. Their back end is a bit square with rounded corners, and the sides progress toward the front somewhat parallel then very quickly curve to give the front end a round shape. Perhaps that makes little sense, but it isn’t inaccurate in my opinion. They are also a dark gray color.
Soon enough the bug was off my hand, and I forgot about him. And within a minute or two I noticed that horrible stink bug stink. It’s hard to describe if you haven’t smelled it and is unlike anything else, and I can’t say I’ve ever smelled it when I expected it. It’s the kind of smell you’re almost afraid you’ll taste if you aren’t careful. I know not to disturb stink bugs any more than is necessary, but when they are on you you gotta do something.
And to make it worse, as I realized the stench, I knew what I’d done and smelled my hand. Sure enough, the little bastard left me a note. I immediately washed my hands, and the stink is tamed a bit, but I can still smell it on me. I really have to try to smell it, nose all up in the fingers, but still . . .
Many of the roads in my town have wide margins. Actually I’m not sure what they are called, but many roads, on the outside of both lanes, there is an extra wide side, almost like a bike lane. They aren’t really bike lanes as they aren’t marked as such, but for the most part they do make it easy to stay out of the lane sometimes.
Of course there are problems with using these as bike lanes, the most obvious when you’re there is that they aren’t swept, so whatever road crap there is gets pushed to the sides and stays in these margins. My ten year old has fat tires on his mountain bike that tend to roll over most anything you tend to find. My bike has skinny tires, being a road bike and all, and would face issues in these lanes but for the fact of my tires, made specifically to be extra tough for urban riding. Another problem is that these lanes end completely sometimes, and sometimes they just pause as when the road runs under the interstate and the wide margin becomes a sidewalk under the bridge forcing bikes into the traffic lane.
Today, while approaching an intersection, there was a truck in the margin on our side of the road. There was a van coming from behind us and a car coming toward us from the intersection. I was making my way into the traffic lane with my son behind me when the van from behind us chose to squeeze through leaving me with very little space and certainly not the three feet mandated by law that cars are required to give to bikes.
So I yelled at him, and as he came to the stop sign he did stop, and then he got out. This could end poorly, so of course I yelled at him some more.
He asked what my problem was, and I explained exactly what happened, pointing out that he was putting my and my son’s life at risk while I was taking him to school. I also asked if he was in such a hurry, and then I told him about the three feet passing law. He quietly reentered his van and drove another block where he again stopped.
As we caught up to him he waved me over. I almost yelled at him again that he was just making it worse and making us late, but he quickly began speaking and apologized if he’d passed too closely.
Seriously, he apologized. So of course I then felt bad and apologized for yelling at him, though in honesty I’m still kinda glad I yelled at him. I’m happy that I caused this conversation, and perhaps at least one more person is able to take that extra moment to think about those of us on bikes, and maybe my own apology will help him understand that, while I did yell, I’m not a jerk.
I really do just want to ride the streets in safety without having to constantly worry that the cars around me are driven by impatient jerks. I want us all to have the time and space to get where we are going, and I want for all road users, whether they’re using the feet to push themselves or to rotate a pair of pedals or just to depress a pedal, to always see each other and consider that we all just want to get to work or school or home or the store.
And it’s really simple, in almost every instance, for each of us to just slow down a tiny bit. Look up and around. Meet each others eyes and know that you are seeing another person, not a car or a bike, but a person using a car or a bike or just walking.