Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Fred awakes

It looks like Spring began to poke its head out this past weekend.  Sure enough, the bike path is crowded again.  It's nice to see more people out commuting and riding, but most of the time I'm missing those lonely days of 20-degree rides in January.

 Most folks know how to ride and obey the rules (both written and unwritten) of the trail and road.  Some Fairweather Freds (and Fredettes) throw the rules out the door, endanger the rest of us, while giving us a bad name amongst the driving and walking public.  If only the dude at the intersection that had to hit his brakes for the stoplight running Fred thought "oh, that was just a damn Fred!"…instead, he thinks "Jackass cyclist!"

Today was the nicest day of 2010 so-far…that's not saying much, but it was a nice Spring-like crisp morning…perfect riding weather.  When I headed out the door, I decided to take an "extended commute" and get a workout with a few laps of Hains Point before rolling into the office.  I usually see very few (if any) riders in the first few miles.  Today, I got within site of a rider near Duke Street…the most congested area of my ride.  I'll call the dude, Fred #1.  Fred #1 was riding a beater old road bike and a motley outfit consisting of knickers a sweatshirt and a backpack.  This guy ignored pretty much every light and stop sign along Commonwealth Avenue, causing a few cars to make abrupt stops.  Fearing backlash from Fred #1, after a few intersections, I purposely slowed down to distance myself.

As I hit the bike path, I noticed that there were quite a few more riders than usual. I found myself continually shouting out "on your left".  I also noticed an extra shadow…a wheel sucker, known as Fred #2.  I really don't mind someone drafting off me, just tell me you're going to do it…there are too many obstacles (runners, Freds from the other direction riding 2 abreast) to worry about for a paceline on the trail to be a good idea.

I make a quick diversion to Hains Point to get in a few laps before work.  When I get there, I see a dude about 50 yards up avec backpack, apparently doing the same thing at a slightly slower pace.  After about 4 miles of slowly gaining on the guy, I decide to bridge the gap, say hi and possibly trade pulls with the guy if there's any interest.  As I get closer, it looks like he's a legit rider.  I say hi…nothing. I'm not the most outgoing guy in the world, but if someone says hi to me, I at least say hey back.  Looks like I have a bike snob…Fred #3.  If I'm going to be snubbed by a Fred, I'll crush him.  So, I did that…dropped the hammer and didn't see the dude again.  This guy was more of an annoyance than anything, but I'm pretty sure he wouldn't give the obligatory "on your left" while timetrialing the Mt Vernon like a fair-weather weekend Lance.

So, after 3 laps of Hains, I decide to head to work.  This is a little later than my normal ride, so I see a ton of commuters coming in the opposite direction.  I pass a few going my way, but not a lot.  Eventually I roll off the trail into Rosslyn.  One thing I've noticed in this area is that if you see a sign saying "Bicycle Friendly Community", you better take cover when on bike.  Arlington is anything but that on its streets.  I've seen 2 people hit by cars in this area over the last 6 months and have had a few close calls myself.  For that reason, I cautiously roll on the sidewalks for the .4 miles from trail to office.  Today, I get behind a couple of AF folks in PT gear in a crosswalk…I slowly attempt to go around them, when a Fredette comes hauling ass sans helmet, threading the needle between me and the AF PTers.  She nearly knocks over one of the Airmen, and pushes me into the road with oncoming traffic.  She then hits the curb at an odd angle, almost crashing herself.  Once she gets going again, I yell at her…she ignores me, then she crosses the path of a few pedestrians, rides through an intersection, running a red light, and finally disappears as she hauls ass down a one way street.

Hopefully the early Spring buffoonery is a result of Fred's over-exuberance to get back on the trails after a tough Winter.  I'm hoping he'll settle down, maybe get bored with the riding…maybe realize that there's a code of ethics on the trail…maybe have a close call with a car while running a red light, enough to scare her to not be a menace.

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