Saturday, January 10, 2009

I'm Not Supposed To Be Here

Like Deteriorata, the National Lampoon spoof of the Desiderata poem, apparently I have no right to be here, or at least on the Field Club Trail. (See both poems here)

Friday morning I rode the Field Club Trail to work from Vinton to Pacific. With temperatures in the mid to upper 20s, the pre-dawn ride was very pleasant. It was very dark in some places, and I even came close to oncoming joggers a couple of times, despite having both a solid halogen beam and a blinky LED on my handlebars, I didn't see them. I am sure they saw me, so I wasn't worried about collisions.

To each person I overtook or passed in the opposite direction I gave my cheery, "Good morning!" Most either waved or greeted me back.

As I was approaching Pacific Street, I came upon a man walking a tiny dog. "Good morning," I said in my genuine "it's a great day to be alive" voice. He must have thought I said something else, as his response was a loud:

"You're not supposed to be on here, rapscallion!"

Note, that the word "rapscallion" was not his word of choice. I was called an important part of both the male and female anatomy; a part of significance to cyclists, in that if this particular body part is sore, one cannot enjoy a day in the saddle.

Well, how do I react to this? I just chuckled to myself. The thought that I, while cycling, was not permitted on the Field Club Trail, was preposterous.

I have a fatal flaw. In situations of public rudeness, I always try to imagine why someone would act that way. I always speculate and try to rationalize the behavior. The best I could come up here was:

  1. The dog walker thought I was a motorcycle, electric scooter, or some other sort of motorized vehicle due to my bright headlights. I don't ride particularly fast, but perhaps he saw me coming for a half-mile or more, with anger building up by the time I finally passed him. Despite my friendly greeting, he had already worked out what he was going to say to me.

  2. He thought there were some sort of hours of operation that disallowed cyclists on the trail at certain times, perhaps excluding bikes in the pre-dawn hours. I tried to find an online resource outlining trail hours of operation, but could not. I do know that some city parks have operating hours posted prohibiting use between, for example, midnight to 5am. I think these are posted to outlaw overnight parking.

  3. He's loony.
I've written before about how nice gestures overwhelmingly outweigh mean ones. Before the silly smile could leave my face, I came to the intersection of Field Club and Pacific, getting ready to turn right and head up the crazy hill toward the Turner Boulevard Trail. A car heading west on Pacific preparing to cross the trail stopped for me, despite having the right of way. I motioned for the car to come on through, since, you may know, the crossing there is not friendly for bikes with all of the gravel and tire-eating grates spanning the road. I was turning right, anyway and not proceeding along the trail, as the driver may have thought.

The gesture was appreciated, though, and helped to assure me that there are probably more friendly drivers than crazy dog walkers.


munsoned said...

I'll go with door #3, there, Bob.

Wow, that's another one of those, "only experiences had on a bike" type of deals. Very weird. That is frustrating though, when you put forth good vibes and get bad vibes in response. Oh well, such is life.

Anytime you want to join us on one of our rides, Scott, don't be afraid to hop in. This morning's ride was nice and mellow and another conversationist (I like to make up words) would have been welcome. In fact, I believe Bob would have liked it better had we averaged about 12 mph. And I'm not training for anything, so speed is not a factor for me. Let us know

RD said...

i know who you are talking about that guy always walks that dog. don't mind the crazy guy

Scott Redd said...

I took a look at the Field Club Trail signs "Trail Rules" today.

It does say that the trail is open between 5am and 11pm.

It was close to 6am when crazy dog walker cursed at me. Maybe his watch was broken.

Biker Bob said...

I choose option 3 as well. I'll add that I think he was not happy about having to walk his dog so early and was in a bad mood well before he noticed you riding your electric scooter on the trail. ;-)

The ride this weekend was great and Mike is correct. I wouldn't mind going slower for those social rides. It's not about the pace or effort, it's about the conversation and enjoyment of the ride.

But this story reminds me of what happened on my way to work today. I was riding my bike on 78th and coming to the intersection of 78th and Center. As I turned right (west) onto Center I noticed a man in his car on Center waiting to turn left onto 78th. He was giving me a big thumbs up and a huge smile. I waved back and spent the rest of the ride just a tad warmer thanks to that simple encouragement from a complete stranger.

Scott Redd said...

Those moments of solidarity are great, Bob. I often wonder if those people are cyclists themselves, or just savvy enough to "get it."

I rode the Field Club Trail this morning around and didn't see a single person. Too cold and windy, I guess.