Thursday, September 24, 2009

It pulls a little to the Left.

It's been a long time sine the last post, but not as long as I've been commuting on a bicycle. Having never held a job to which I've had to drive a car or take public transport, there's more than a few urban assault miles behind me. And I'm not ashamed to admit that I take certain liberties with posted traffic regulations when I deem it safe to do so.

Contrary to some opinions, I'm of the school that taking a more aggressive approach to urban riding is actually safer than JRA with your thumbs in your belt-buckles and a self-righteous, law-abiding grin. Keeping your speed up and rolling though intersections (when there's nobody coming - I'm not suggesting you get in people's way) is certainly not inherently safer than the mellow alternatives, but it is worthy of paying attention--both for you, who's working with a narrow margin for error; and for everyone else, who notices you because you're not just a stationary blob in the shoulder. Time and again, this theory proves itself. I've been sideswiped by a Nissan, eaten by a pothole (or two) and knocked over by a motorcycle, to name a few, all while JRA, but never (in the last decade, at least) have I had a mishap while riding like I meant it, which is not insignificant given that I mean it at least 75% of the time.

Today was no exception...

I'm on my way to the MFA, thinking about some nice art I'm gonna see, rolling down the main drag through an intersection where I had a green light, maybe doin' 15mph, which is decidedly JRA on this particular road (slightly downhill), when, with absolutely no warning, some J-walker comes out from behind a car less than six feet in front of me without so much as a glance in the direction of traffic.

To be honest, this is a moment I've been waiting for for a long time. Not because I want to clean out a pedestrian (believe me hurting someone for whatever the reason doesn't give one a warm fuzzy feeling), but because I've always been curious about how I would react.

The scenario has run over in my head 1000 times: Drop the bars, square shoulders, head-up, don't forget to wrap. Basically it's a football tackle: transfer maximum momentum without injury and make sure everything stops right where it is. I can now definitively say it works like a charm, unless you're my fork. You'd be amazed how much frame repair one can do with a signpost...

Of course, the usual me would have been in the middle of the road going 50% faster and would have been 15 feet to her left when she stepped out. So much for JRA--or maybe so much for contemplating art? At least nobody got hurt.

Ride it like you mean it.