Lighten up, dummy

August 28, 2016 § 48 Comments

Dear Wife of Cyclist:

Your husband is a dummy. Not a bleeding idiot or a complete maroon, but a dummy. That’s actually a good thing because dummy is repairable. Dummy can be taught. To be sure, he can’t be taught much, but a few simple tricks are within his feeble mental range.

And this trick will keep him alive.

Wife, I’m writing you because he has read this lecture a bunch of times but it hasn’t sunk in because after scanning the first couple of paragraphs and seeing that he’s not mentioned, he goes back to http://www.allcarbonstuff.carbon.com. This inability to focus is related to that thick layer of concrete surrounding the somewhat smooth cerebral cortex which in turn covers his pea-sized brain.

Wife, here’s what happened yesterday, and it’s the same thing that happens every day. I showed up for a bike ride and I was the only one with headlights and taillights. That probably doesn’t mean a lot to you because it was, you know, daytime, and we know that no one ever gets hit during the day.

But consider this: Among the countless cyclists I’ve represented for being hit by cars, only two were ever hit while Christmas treed. That’s right. Except for two people, all the others were hit while riding without lights.

That’s an ersatz stat, I know. Personal experience. Anecdotal. But it is common knowledge that most bikers get hit because the cager doesn’t see them. And you know what? It’s a lot easier to be seen when you’re riding a Christmas tree. Please don’t send me links to lit-up riders who’ve been hit and killed. This is a question of probability. Just like you’re more likely to smash into something when drunk, you’re more likely to get creamed when the cager doesn’t see you until the last second, i.e. the moment your head is coming through the windshield.

If your hubby drank a fifth of bourbon and then asked for his car keys, would you let him drive? If he loaded his 2nd Amendment Accident Device and suggested that the family sit down for a fun game of Russian roulette, would you agree?

But that’s what happens on practically every ride I’m on. Your husband shows up without lights. What’s worse, he gives me shit for having them.

What’s worsty-worst, when pressed he admits he actually owns lights!

“I use them when I ride to work,” he proudly but stupidly says.

“I use them when it’s dark,” he explains, even though he only rides during the day and even though he ignores the fact that dusk and dawn are notoriously dangerous times to be cycling.

Why is your husband such a dummy? It’s simple. He doesn’t ride with lights at all times for these reasons:

  1. He is cheap. He’d rather buy $2,000 wheels for the races he’s never going to do than spend $500 on something that will keep him unmaimed, alive, and able to waste the day watching football.
  2. He is lazy. Lights require charging. He can barely keep gas in the car. How’s a dummy like that supposed to keep a front AND back light powered for bike rides? He’s almost always late to the ride anyway, scurrying around like a crazy person trying to find the other matching armwarmer and skidmark-free chamois.
  3. He is a sheep. The people he admires and fears don’t ride Christmas trees. Why should he?
  4. He is an aero nut. Lights aren’t aero.
  5. He is a weight weenie. Lights add precious grams and he’s already pouring out his water bottles at the base of all the climbs.
  6. He is vain and lights look goofy. (Remind him that feeding tubes and wheelchairs are even less fashionable.)
  7. He is a dummy. Dummies would always rather pay a lot more later than a little bit now.

Wife, can you help me in this endeavor? Before Dummy leaves the house can you please say, “Hey, Dummy, where are your lights?”

When he retorts with “It’s daytime,” tell him to either lighten up or he’s not going.

Better yet, the night before can you please say, “Hey, Dummy, are your lights charged?”

Best, can you please put your foot down and refuse to let him out the door unlit? He may be smelly, talk too much about bikes, be inconsiderate, drink a bit too much, be occasionally impecunious, etc., but he’s your dummy and he deserves to live. More importantly, you deserve to not have to spend the next year rehabbing him out of a fucking wheelchair and teaching him how to walk again and not having to carry his turds out of the bedroom on a tray.

In the event that he really doesn’t own any lights, make the next birthday the equivalent of receiving socks and a tie. Buy for him:

  1. The Diablo headlight, made by Exposure.
  2. The Serfas Orion taillight, made by Serfas.

Lights work, honey. So help a brother out, willya?

END

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The point-one percent

August 16, 2016 § 27 Comments

Here’s a quick rundown of things that have happened in the last couple of months:

  • Three cyclists killed in PV
  • Crazy road rager assaulted a man and his kid for riding their bikes
  • Friend #1 got run over on PCH in Malibu
  • Friend #2 got terribly injured by hit-and-run in San Diego
  • Friend #3 got run over in PV
  • Entire club ride narrowly avoided being taken out by road-raging Tesla
  • Group of angry NIMBYs tried to ban cyclists from public roads
  • Surfer gang member advocated death for cyclists who break traffic laws
  • Wealthy citizen compared cyclists to “dog shit”

It’s easy to think that the world has gone crazy. When bicycles are the enemy and cars are the hero, we’ve literally turned the Imperial Stormtroopers into underdogs.

Except, we haven’t.

These same last few months I’ve been riding almost exclusively in PV, ground zero for the bike wars, and I’ve been sticking to some of the most controversial residential areas where opposition to cyclists is supposedly fiercest. What I’ve found is surprising, and it’s this: Most people are friendly.

I make a point of waving and saying hello to everyone I run across. Except for a couple of incredibly sour people for whom death will be a huge relief (for them and for us), people invariably wave back and smile. I’ve stopped and chatted with Mark the Dude with the Two Giant Poodles, and Bob the 80-Year-Old Dude Who Has Run Across America Twice.

What’s more interesting is that I’ve had zero car-bike incidents. This doesn’t mean they aren’t happening; video from other cyclists proves otherwise. But by and large, people in PV are fine with bikes, especially when the cyclist is highly visible.

Since I began riding with super powerful daytime front-and-rear lights, I’ve become visible at all times. A 1200-lumen flashing headlamp gets your attention no matter how distracted you are, and a 100-lumen red taillight does the same.

What’s more interesting is that some very low-grade detective work has revealed that the “horde” of bike haters in PV is actually one guy using multiple fake aliases on social media to create the impression that many in the community share his views. The police know his identity, and although he’s noxious, crude, and wants to incite trouble, he’s nothing more than a harmless crank afraid to show his face in public, not to mention a terribly inept surfer.

At their worst, people may be slightly bothered by having to slow down for bikes. But the 99.9% hardly get enraged, and they certainly don’t wish for death and catastrophic injury as the penalty for pedaling a bike. Of course the .1% that do can do incredible damage, and they have.

But most people are on our side, and recently, so are the police. And 99%? The odds could be a lot worse.

END

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