Driving and Biking in the Big City

Breaking the rules of the road

with 4 comments

Finger on the bell

Finger on the bell

Like most folks in Texas where sunshine is pretty steady, I am not a fan of Daylight Savings Time. At least I’m not a fan on Monday mornings when it’s time to bundle up in the dark and commute to Houston before daybreak. But nine or so hours later, in the middle of March when the weather is just about perfect, I’m an incredible fan. ’Tis the season of longer bike rides and little sweating. These days create a perfect combination of long-legged birds, bushy-tailed squirrels, nose-wrinkling rabbits and an occasional raccoon, deer or even a coyote.

Clarence and I were anxious to speed home today where I would switch from four wheels to the two-wheeled Streak for a long, nature-loving ride, and it was just that. At least it was for the first eight of my 10-mile bike ride.

Of course, I share the greenbelts with more and more travelers these days. Gone are the days when I can expect to take a solitary ride to the lake or the FFA barn without seeing a soul. Kingwood is a growing community of baby boomers fighting more than the loss of an hour this day. The community is filled with golfers, tennis players, bike enthusiasts, joggers, young parents and tweens and young teens who are so self-absorbed that you can watch while the hormones knock them off the straight and narrow.

I am always surprised at the number of folks who don’t even see or hear me coming. Of course, I’ve got my rhythm down and know how close I can get before I warn any dog walkers are baby strollers. I come around them slowly and don’t blow them off the sidewalk like some other bikers. If they appear overly concerned that their dog is going to bark at me or chase me, I tell them that I am dog friendly so they can calm down.

I share nicely and obey all the proper rules of the road as dictated by suburban society. I ride often enough to know where another biker may be coming around this corner or that bend and may be coming too fast or too carelessly for me to save myself even with my cat-like reflexes. I bing my bell, call out, make eye contact. In other words, I drive defensively. I have learned from a couple of bad bike spills and near-misses that running off the concrete and onto the shoulder will cause me to wreck. And, in fact, my achy, breaky body takes longer and longer to recover from a full-on bike wreck.

My biking history also involves some paybacks from my own mischievous youth when some would say I, too, was a bit sassy, preoccupied and prank pulling. In other words, it takes one to know one. Thus, I’m leery about the teens and tweens and never look forward to passing a patch of them. I’m not saying they always sass me or that there aren’t wonderful kids out there. I love kids. But I’ve been whistled at, mocked and called penis head. And, in fact, some 12-year-olds in the neighborhood once strung box tape across the bike path, and I happened to be the next rider to hit it at full speed – knocking my bike for a loop, me on the ground and damaging my next bone scan with suspicious smudges of “early deterioration.”

So, my first bike ride of the Daylight Savings Season ended with a short game of sidewalk chicken that I was determined not to lose. There were three of them, clearly taking up the entire greenbelt on their bikes and completely breaking the rules of the road that require them to pass gently by hugging the right side of the pavement. They didn’t see me at first so I binged my bell softly and in plenty ahead of time for their acknowledgement. They continued to frolic and come closer, so I shouted a “hey” of greeting. They looked up, saw me and went back to ignoring me.

I held my ground. I didn’t take up much space on the greenbelt, but I was not veering to the uneven shoulder where I would certainly take a tumble. Further, I was not going to defer or give up ground. And, in fact, this was not my first game of chicken, having raced down Rubber Plant Road often as the young owner of a used Ford Pinto.

The teenagers looked me straight in the face and kept coming, two abreast, one right in front of me. Ten feet away, then eight, five. I tell you honestly that we were mere two or three feet from each other, almost front wheel to front wheel, close enough to have a conversation when I finally spoke up.

“Are you trying to take me out?” I asked, sounding as much like “The Closer” as “Dirty Harry.” And it broke the tension of the standoff. I guess the teen realized he was going head to head with a middle-aged mother, perhaps past her prime. Would this make him tough or weird? And, in fact, if we continued to tussle, how bad would he look if he discovered what a really huge pain in the ass I can be when I’m pissed off.

He came to his senses and said, “no” and even “sorry” and moved to his side of the sidewalk. I heard some guffawing as I pulled away, finished my ride and never looked back.


Written by commuterchroniclesdbh

March 11, 2013 at 6:54 pm

4 Responses

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  1. Denise, you are awesome! Keep them coming


    March 11, 2013 at 8:06 pm

    • How fun it would be, Meggen, to have you biking the Kingwood roads with me. Those teenagers wouldn’t know what hit ’em.


      March 12, 2013 at 6:59 am

  2. You sassy when younger? Hey wait, you’re still sassy – never out grew it apparently!


    March 12, 2013 at 3:10 pm

    • I worry some day when I’m still sassy but more frail that I will sass myself into a corner, thinking I’m still 18 and freakishly strong.


      March 12, 2013 at 6:37 pm

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