Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Cycling as a cure-all

Date: March 28
Mileage: 26.0
March mileage: 327.2
Temperature upon departure: 41

I almost feel guilty for heading out today, but it had to be done. It was sunny, 40 degrees (thems T-shirt temps!), and I needed to vent stress buildup from a frustrating day at work. Something was going to have to give, and that something was my bum knee. So, with a noticeable gimp in my gait, I saddled up Roadie and headed out for more than an hour (Ok, Ok ... It was probably closer to two hours than one. I like to think I'm fast on Roadie, but I have to be reasonable.) It was a great ride - breathing hard into the stiff salt breeze, then riding its tailwind to tear-inducing speeds on the way back. And by the end of the ride, my knee was feeling light and limber (despite the fact it's still bleeding a little. I probably should have gotten the thing stiched.) How much will I pay for my ride tomorrow? Whatever stiffness returns, it was worth it.

As I rode along East End Road today, I thought of a blog post that CycleDog recently talked about. Hip Suburban White Guy wrote a hilarious post about bicycles versus cars. It's an age-old debate that no one will ever win, because no one on either side is likely to give - even a little. HSWG's view can be summed up in this colorful quote (edits mine): "But WHY (in the world) should I have to yield a road meant for cars to some (wonderful person) on a bicycle when there is a bicycle path damn near within arms reach of this inconsiderate (lovable rider)?"

HSWG's uninformed rant (he admitted to as much) attracted the venomous opposition of a cycle commuter in Minnesota, who contradicts HSWG's points with valid, logical counterpoints. However, Karl, the bicycle commuter, commits the ultimate debate faux pas by assuming that because HSWG rips on cyclists, drives an SUV and drinks beer, he must be a conservative - and calls him as much. If you read any more if HSWG's blog, you'll see that he's anything but.

This is where the cars versus cyclists debate always falls apart. HSWG assumes that we cyclists are skinny, snobby, spandex-clad geeks who are oblivious to the movements of the outside world. Karl contradicts this stereotype with more stereotypes about HSWG being overweight, boorish and selfish (these things may be true, but you can't garner as much from a single post.) The story is always the same from here - each party walks away feeling the other is ignorant for making blanket assumptions, and in the end, no one's point gets through. This isn't what starts wars, but it is what makes them endless.

Of course I side with Karl. Bicycles, for all purposes, are vehicles. They are Slow Moving Vehicles, like a tractor or an Amish buggy. As vehicles, they have as much legal access to all roads, save certain Interstates, as any gas-guzzling SUV. There's nothing HSWG can do about that. However, HSWG has every right to be annoyed by them. As long as he's not advocating the legalizing of target practice on cyclists, he's entitled to his point of view. I think about the things that really annoy me - like people who let their dogs run loose in their unfenced front yards. If I were as funny or as volatile as HSWG, I might post a rambling rant about the evils of loose dogs.

That doesn't necessarily make me a dog hater. I'd resent being called one. And I probably wouldn't listen as well to any points made after that name-calling. I might even lash back in defense.

HSWG ends his argument with this gem: "But when I come around a corner at the posted speed limit, don't expect me to swerve into an opposing lane of traffic or slam on my brakes and get rear-ended just to avoid adding yet another decorative adornment to my gas-guzzling SUV grill."
As I said, endless wars.

Can't we all just get along?