Have you ever been driving down the freeway, with your cruise control on, and somebody passes you, only to slow down, and then when you catch up to them, they speed off again? Meanwhile you're on cruise control , so you know you're going a constant speed. Well, I've been having a similar experience during my bike commute. I ride at a pretty consistent pace. I'm not flying, but I'm not dawdling either, just cruising along comfortably. And every day, I see these people who, apparently, think the commute is a race. You know what I mean, you're sitting at a light, and someone pulls up next to you. When the light turns, they stand up and SPRINT! like they're trying to take Contador at the tape- pounding those pedals, throwing that bike left and right- only to have to stop and sit at the next light. Then they do it again, over and over, stop light after stop light, never really getting away from you. People do this to me every day. Meanwhile, I'm cruising along at a steady pace, my goal being to not have to unclip at the light- not to see how fast I can possibly get to it.
Another common thing is people flying by me ("ON YOUR LEFT!!!) only to settle back down to my pace or slower within a hundred yards or so. Then, when I catch back up to them, they sprint off again. And meanwhile, of course, I'm just cruising along at my steady pace.
I also often wonder, do people know how to use gears? I'm not sure. My commute home has a lot of uphills. Again, I'm not particularly fast, but I'm steady. So people will fly by me on the flats, then three blocks later I pass them on the uphill. I'm chuggin' along, the same speed (or a tiny bit slower) than when they were channeling Fausto on me three blocks back, but when I pass them they are grinding that drive train, looking like they're legs are in slow-motion and panting like my old black lab. And then, when they see me, they double the effort, though they usually still fall back- at least until the next flat.
I'm not sure where all these racers are racing off to. Why are they in such a hurry? As far as I can tell, we're not in a race. There are no podium girls at the stop lights. There are no crowds cheering for us, the old fat guy in the red devil suit is nowhere to be seen, I don't see Bob Roll or Al Trautwig anywhere, though I confess, in my mind Phil Liggett- with that gorgeous voice- sometimes narrates my commute:
"There he is, The Captain himself, poised at the light. The rain is coming down, the
exhaust fumes drift by, what can be going through the mind of The Captain right
now? But he's-oh look! The light has turned green! He's pedaling! He's going through
the intersection! He's taking the lane! He's definitely going to make it home in time
for dinner tonight!"
But I digress, (as I so often do). Now back to our commentary...
Are they late for a meeting? Do they just not know how to ride relaxed? Are they worried the hipster-bar will run out of PBR? Me, I'm just not in that big of a hurry. I like to get to work on time, but my office is not going anywhere, I don't have to chase it down. And it's not like they won't let me in the building if I'm not there by 7:56 am. And as for getting there (wherever there might be) before they run out of beer, this is Portland for Christ's sake, they're never going to run out of beer- ever! And certainly not before I get there.
So race on, competitive commuters. Just tell the bartender to save one for me.
2 hours ago