When we were in high school, my friend Wes decided that we should get into competitive cycling. It was a heady time: Alexi Grewal had won the men’s cycling road race at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics, Greg LeMond was starting to make waves in the European peloton, and bicycles were beautiful.
(Tell me I’m wrong. I dare you.)
Anyway, I had fun training, but I was hopeless at racing. Since college, I have ridden varying amounts from year to year, and I’ve begun to train more seriously in the last three. It takes some courage and dedication, as cyclists encounter many hazards in the course of a ride. To show you what I mean, I took a gentle sixteen-mile spin on a summer afternoon, and I encountered all of the following.
First, the pavement on the part of the road I use is awful.
And it continues.
(What line can I take?)
And, lest you thing this is an isolated area, look at this:
“That’s not so bad,” you might be saying. But look more closely:
See that? The town has re-painted the lines over the places where the top layer has chipped away. It considers this normal!
Some of the permanent road fixtures can cause problems, too.
In order to avoid that grating, I’d need to be in the gravel on the right-hand side or halfway out into the lane of traffic. And here’s how the town alerts drivers to that possibility:
(That will be hidden by the brush in a matter of weeks.)
There are plenty of hazards if I stay to the right. Some can cause flats and/or crashes:
bars of sharp, rusty metal,
elevated drains and protruding barrels,
objects made for puncturing other things.
But wait, there’s more.
If the rock doesn’t crash you, the gravel still can.
Here’s an oldie but a goodie:
(“One third more flats than our regular beer.”)
This looks promising and picturesque:
But beware! Because here a picture is worth exactly one word:
(Insert your favorite excremental euphemism.)
The cow sign was a warning, not a promise.
Some thing I see just make me wonder.
(“Many roadway users ignore the importance of oral hygiene. Imagine trying to avoid oncoming traffic with popcorn husks lodged in your teeth. A recipe for disaster.”)
At least they’re concerned about skin cancer.
That must have been an interesting night.
I have absolutely no idea.
Got tired of scrubbing dishes while driving?
(“Light my fire!”)
(“Since you’ve already lost your shoe, Junior, there’s no reason to keep your sock on.”)
The detritus by the side of the road can really throw a
into your ride.
Given the amount of litter that, at best, spoils the scenery, and, at worst, can injure you, it’s not surprising that cyclists often campaign for clean, safe, well-paved roads. That’s why I am so surprised to note a peculiar phenomenon in the past few months.
Some CYCLIST, eating a natural source of potassium, just jettisoned the skin into the path of other riders. Just a little way up the road,
This is dangerous. Question: why has the banana peel been a staple of slapstick comedy for a century?
If you said “Low coefficient of static friction,” you’re correct! There are enough hazards out there without cyclists themselves creating slipping danger. Plus it’s unsightly. “But,” you’re saying, “a banana is natural! It will just biodegrade.” Well, consider the following peel cluster:
They dry out and blacken, but they don’t go away. You can still see the sticker on this one:
This one’s been around so long that it has become part of a litter still-life:
Here’s what it looks like when a cyclist throws one on someone’s lawn:
Riders are not only throwing banana peels. They are tossing orange peels
and even water bottles before climbs.
(“That’s so pro.”)
I know what you’re thinking now: “How do you know cyclists threw those thing away and not drivers?” I posit that, these days, this
is far more likely to have come from an automobile.
So, why are cyclists doing this? Are they trying to look like pros? They still don’t. Are they marking their territory like dogs?
Disgusting. If we as cyclists want people to be considerate of us and stop littering, we need to lead by example. Bring a plastic sandwich bag and carry your garbage home. Otherwise, all we’ll have is
‘Murica the Beautiful,
the land of the free and the home of the bros.
Let’s be better than that.