Monday, July 9, 2012

Motorist Intuition Sweetens the Ride


Rough road, nice drivers

With the weekend winding down on Sunday evening, it turned out I hadn't found time for a ride all day. With some regret, I was putting the bikes back into their storage configuration, the one where there's not parts and pieces of them laying around being cleaned, disassembled, reassembled, lubed, or reassigned, where parts of the house, work area, and patio resemble either a bike swap or a very odd or haphazard bike shop, and was struck with the sudden urge to go for a quick night ride. Just a few miles of straight sprinting down the bike lane, just to feel the wheels spinning, just to burn off some nerves. I attached the two simplest lights I have, which take about 12 seconds to deploy, and took off. (PBSF clicked onto the Topeak rear rack light attachment point, Knog Skink wrapped around a handlebar. Bam! I'm off)

This particular stretch of road is that spider cracked asphalt like in the photo above, which on a road bike moving right along on skinny tires can be kind of rough, but I ate it up. Just pointed the fixed gear bike into the last light of the setting sun and pedaled hard for a couple of miles. Fun fun fun, glad that I did that before putting it away.

It was an out and back ride. At the end of the out leg, as I rolled up to the red stoplight where I planned to u-turn to go back, I looked back over my left shoulder at the car I heard coming up behind me, but didn't change my line of travel. I was slowing down, thinking the driver would probably roll past me to the light, and then depending on where I wound up, I would loop around behind them and go back the way I came from, else wait for the light to change and traffic to clear before heading back. But the motorist saw my over-the-shoulder look back, and apparently giving consideration to the red light right in front of us, just slowed way down clearly indicating I should go ahead and do whatever it was I was looking over my shoulder checking for. So I waved and went ahead with the u-turn. 

It was one of those quick, non-verbal, direct human communications on the road that continue to amaze me. In one way of looking at it, the intuition of the motorist was directly connected to my wheels through my fixed gear, being driven by my legs, which were controlled by my mind, which in turn was processing perceptions coming from the car and its changing motion behind me, based on a total of less than a half-second of sensory input really, just a glance to verify what the motorist's perception and judgement of my actions were going to result in, leading me to keep on spinning, wave, and u-turn around. On a dark street with spider cracked asphalt, it sweetens the ride when all the neurons, perceptions, intuitions, habits, and reactions all click like that. Thanks for the road cooperation, Phoenix motorists, much appreciated!

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