I’m a real rule follower, the sign says “Don’t Walk” I don’t walk; green means go, red means stop. I’ve been this way my entire life, and so I guess this is why I look for ways and places to separate myself from the rules, to do my own thing. At first it was through mountaineering that I discovered the freedom of a world sans rules. I instinctively avoided, I dare say even ran away from, guided or otherwise organized climbing groups. Instead I found my “boys” and we did our own thing. We went out in bad weather, we had no “team leader” and we left at home most of the ten essentials. This was anathema to many “Mountaineers” who saw climbing as akin to a military expedition; we did our best to steer clear of the Mountaineers.
Now my freedom is found on the bike. Much of my training is done solo, and I simply put on my kit, pump up my tires and get out there and ride. On my bike I make my own decisions. Yesterday I had to ride on the Burke-Gilman bike trail, it was a sunny Sunday afternoon and the trail was thick with every manner of cyclist, runner, jogger, walker, roller and crawler. I slowed down, took my time, kept my cool, this was, after all, the first time in six months that I’d ridden in short sleeves – why get all uptight. Near the University of Washington I got in behind a quintet of “serious” bikers: they were adorned with all manner of blinking lights, fluttering ribbons and orange slow moving vehicle insignias.
I was stuck behind the recumbent guy who was droning on about the “tough centuries” when we came to a stop sign at a point where the trail crossed a street. As we slowed I pulled up alongside the lead rider, and as we approached the intersection an oncoming car slowed and came to a stop, I gave the driver a wave and rolled through the intersection and continued on my way. From behind I hear “oh I guess you don’t have to stop.”
I ride in a team kit and I take my role as a spokesperson for the sponsors seriously. I acknowledge drivers who show a little courtesy, I wave to every passing cyclist, and I even pull over if I feel that I have a driver trapped in behind me, I never flip off or yell at inattentive drivers I just let it roll off. So consequently I didn’t give the old gal the middle finger salute, nor did I turn around to explain to her that the driver had stopped, he and I had made eye contact, and that the smartest thing to do in that situation was to accept the courtesy and continue on my way.
I’m sure at this moment in time she is probably writing her own blog post about that crazy “racer” who flew past her riding reckless and irresponsibly. “Why doesn’t he just follow the rules!”