Three Nights Out On The Tandem After Work & Motorists…

Yes indeed, we just managed to get in our 3rd after-work tandem ride this week and it’s been great!  The mileage isn’t anything to crow about, but getting in a solid, moderate-pace, hour-long ride three times on weeknights stands as a real milestone for us: I can’t remember the last time we were able to do that!  Of course, seeing that tomorrow is Friday there’s ZERO chance of scoring a 4th; “Finally a Friday” celebrations always take precedence.

Related to our last two nights out on the tandem…

As a follow-up to a previous item dealing with our noisy White Industries MI5 front hub, the tear-down, minor clean-up and reseating the retaining collar eliminated all of the noise coming from the front wheel; how nice is that!  Noises that shouldn’t be there always drive me nuts and take away from the enjoyment of a ride, so I’ve been a pretty happy guy the last two nights out.

However, I finally lost my cool with motorists who haven’t got a hot clue how to share the road with cyclists.  It seems to run the gamut from:

(A)  motorists who are simply intolerant of cyclists and feel it’s their duty to try and make sure we feel uncomfortable — perhaps even threatened — sharing the road, to

(B)  the nervous Nellie motorists who become absolutely paranoid any time they encounter a cyclist on the road.

Of the two, I guess I’m less bothered by the intolerant, aggressive drivers because at least they’re actively engaged in the driving process, have clearly seen me/us on our bicycle and have the mental awareness to develop and execute their plan to “buzz” the cyclist, blow smoke as they pass by flooring their diesel, or offer a friendly gesture on those rare occasions when they have a free hand that’s not holding a smart-phone up to their ear: yes, we experienced all three of those over the past three days.

On the other hand, the nervous Nellie’s are completely unpredictable: you have no idea what they’re going to do, because they have no idea what they’re supposed to do!  Here’s a clue, keep your eyes on the road, your mind on what you’re doing, and follow the rules of the road at all times.   Just because someone destroyed all hope that you’d one day be able to find enjoyment and independence via leaning how to ride a bicycle as a mode of transportation on public roads doesn’t mean that everyone who is out there riding a bicycle in traffic is petrified and about to do something stupid… because, well, you certainly wouldn’t know any better!

Seriously, I really get tired of motorists who almost cause accidents when they suddenly decide to patronize me/us by “waiving” us through an intersection when we’re simply trying to follow the rules of the road.  Or, worse yet, as happened yesterday, heading through a four-way intersection from a stop and then suddenly stopping as we then take our turn and set-up for a left turn around the back end of the car anticipating its continued movement: yeah, that was special.  I still have no idea why she freaked, but suspect it was an equally nervous Nellie sitting in the passenger seat who suddenly realized what an outstretched left arm meant as we entered the intersection: unbelievable.

Yes, the list is long and, no… I don’t expect that things will get better in the future. There are just too many people driving cars today who have never ridden a bicycle on the street and who have had it beaten into their heads that “bicycles don’t belong on the street”, “bicycles are dangerous”, “anyone riding a bicycle on public roads is an idiot” while riding in a car where the adults utter these things every time they encounter a cyclist.  Is it any wonder why so many of the Gen X, Gen Y and Millennials are oblivious, intolerant or sometimes hostile towards cyclists?  Yes, they’ve been trained to be that way.


About TG

I've been around a bit and done a few things, have a couple kids and a few grandkids. I tend to be curmudgeonly, matter-of-fact and not predisposed to self-serving chit-chat. Thankfully, my wife's as nice as can be otherwise we'd have no friends. My interests are somewhat eclectic, but whose aren't?
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7 Responses to Three Nights Out On The Tandem After Work & Motorists…

  1. Dave Snope says:

    I can add another one: (C) The incredibly inconsiderate motorcycle drivers whose mission is to make the rest of the world as deaf as they are by goosing their 120 dB pipes just as they are passing us. Most of them ride a brand of motorcycles I shall only abbreviate: HD I hope yours is one of the quiet ones.

    • TG says:

      Yeah, sadly that’s true in many instances. I wouldn’t say it’s all the peeps with loud cruisers and H-D’s in particular, but it sure seems to be nearly 1/2 of them.

      Our Wide Glide’s exhaust system is not stock but it does have two sets of baffles, not open pipes. The internal baffles are hand-wrapped with fiberglass and there’s a second tail pipe plug-in baffle that reduces the final pipe opening by 1/2 the normal size. So, while it can be “loud” at WOT, it doesn’t have the the harsh and painful high frequencies that come out of the bikes with just simple cheese-grater baffles or that are running open-pipes. It has more of a ‘muscle car’ sound vs. the ear-shattering, hate-inducing open pipe racket that I also don’t like. My BMW also has an aftermarket exhaust with glass-packed mufflers, but no baffles… you can hear it coming, but it doesn’t induce wincing or other discomforting reactions.

  2. Ross says:

    Anger management all round. I would get grief from my stoker if I let rip at motorists so I try to anticipate and am also very bold at taking the lane when I have to. I did leave a dent in the top of a car trying to come into the bike lane to go round a car turning left. My stoker did not complain about that one! Its a daily challenge I face commuting on a solo bike. I try to use roads with shoulders and be as vigilant behind as ahead. Out here in Sonoma (Norcal) its the bloody Prius “Drivers” (I use that term loosely) who creep up on you, pass close as they think their car is sooo small and also have a holier than thou approach to living, even if it means scaring you on the bike, half to death. At least with the HD bikes you get a warning! Rubberside down everyone, and bless the motorists who are polite and do the right thing, they are so easily forgotten.

  3. Steve says:

    We’ve had people honk their horn as they pass us – I don’t know if they think it’s a polite warning, or if they’re telling us that they don’t think we should be on the road.

    You singled out Gen X, Gen Y and Millennials but there at lot of older folks who grew up with the notion that bicycles are toys and should only be ridden on the sidewalk. Also, some parts of the country are more tolerant of bicycles than others.

    • TG says:

      FWIW: I used the Gen X, etc. reference in the context of having inhereted their intolerance of cyclists while riding in the car with their parents, i.e., those older folks to whom you make reference. Clearly, the more deeply attitudes are ingrained at a young age, the harder it becomes to change; therefore, IMHO cyclists continue to face an uphill battle.

  4. Rick Lindstrom says:

    You’re experiencing the thing that eventually convinced Terri and me to abandon road riding and become exclusively woods riders. Life is short enough as it is, and we just didn’t want to join the ranks of those that have been maimed or killed by an automobile. I’ve known more than a few in thirty years of cycling.

    We miss road riding at times, but not enough to risk our lives or well-being. There is much beauty in the woods- it never ceases to amaze me. 🙂

  5. Paul Wearing says:

    Mark, you certainly nailed this. I constantly tell my wife that if I was just starting out road riding today, I do not think I could do it with all the idiots out there. I think over the years, I have seen the attention level wain from little to almost non-existent.

    And these younger drivers seem to have no clue about any rules of the road, toward cyclists or even other vehicles. On a recent trip to SW FLA, I-75 is now 3 lanes on either side. Which in theory should make everything better. However, many slower cars that used to occupy the right lane, now feel they should use the middle lane. So you pull to the left to pass and as you go to get back over, here comes someone in the far right lane going 30+ over the speed limit. They will use all 3 lanes in and out and eventually get blocked out of the left lane and then they make a banzai move making traffic behind take avoiding action. What ever happen to SLOWER TRAFFIC KEEP RIGHT?, to allow faster traffic to safely pass on the LEFT! I just think they were never tout anything else, and you can be certain they have never seen a clutch pedal in their life.

    You can also blame the car manufactures and the general demand for screens, connectivity, and a whole host of accessorizes that are not even associated with DRIVING. Listen to the car commercials closely, most tout their connectivity and such and not the dynamics of the vehicle.

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