Sunday, October 22, 2017

Commuting stories: "Yes, I am entitled" edition

#1: I was riding home on Friday and was a bit in a hurry but not riding fast, being in traffic and all.  I was on the Somerville Avenue bike lane, passing by Ibbetson Street, heading west.  I saw a couple of cars waiting to turn left, towards the car wash.  I was in the bike lane and had the right of way but you never know when someone might use the bike lane to pass stopped traffic.  I proceeded with caution and no one got in my lane.  At least no one in front of me.  As I passed by stopped traffic I sensed something behind me.  Cautious looking back, I saw a woman driving her SUV on my rear wheel.  She was moving slowly but she was right on my wheel.  I guess she felt entitled to take the bike lane to pass some cars on the right and save a few second and risk injury to me in the process.  She stayed right behind me as I headed into Wilson Square.  I felt like she was too close to move out of the way so I just stopped at the stop sign and got on Elm Street heading toward Davis Square.  The SUV followed me and passed me, a pretty too quickly for my tastes.  But, hey, she owned an SUV and was entitled to do what she wanted to do.  I wish I had a rear facing video camera to show Somerville Police.

#2:


On the other side of  Davis, I saw another great human specimen.  I was waiting on the bike light at the bike path Mass Ave crossing at Cedar Street, next to an older guy on a Specialized mountain bike.  A cyclist ran the red on Mass Ave and the guy on the Specialized said, "all those liberals on entitled."  Huh?  I responded with, "like those cabinet secretaries who take private jets, cause they are entitled?"  Boy, this guy had hate and lies ready to burst forth.  "I bet you like President Clinton." (I wish we had President Clinton.)  "What do you think of President Clinton selling uranium to the Russians, I bet you just ignore it."  All spewed out with venom and a pretty loud voice and many other words that I can't recount completely.  He sped off and I followed, only to keep an eye on where he was.  With such hate foaming at the surface, I wanted to know where he was going and make sure it wasn't near me.  After Alewife he went north on the Alewife path and that was it.  I was suspicious of this hateful guy and stopped at the Lake Street Crossing and looked back to make sure he wasn't following me.  I worry that there are people who consume lies that fill them with hate and I can cross paths with their insanity, again.  Even if I don't meet them in person, they seem adept (along with the Russian bots) at poisoning the public sphere with their racism and misogyny. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Magic hour: coffeeneuring #1, 2017

Magic hour or golden hour is a great time to be out riding or doing just about anything outdoors.  It's commonly defined as just before sunset or just after sunrise.  I experienced a pretty different kind of magic hour on my first coffeeneuring ride of the season last Sunday.  The ride was like a lot of my coffeeneuring season rides over the years - me going for a ride and getting some coffee on the way.  That also describes many of my off season rides, too.  I have my best chance to get in rides in the early morning - I get home before anyone really notices or cares that I am gone.  During a decent part of the year that means that it's dark out when I start my rides and that was true on Sunday - I left over and hour and a half before sunrise.

I'm always a little ambivalent and very cautious when riding in the dark, especially early morning rides.  While I prefer early morning to late night rides because there are a lot fewer people out who may have a measurable BAC, those under the influence in the early morning hours may be really tired and with a higher BAC so I keep my eyes open.  I can't have eyes in the back of my head but Sunday was a case where I really didn't need to.  For whatever quirk in everyone's schedule, no one passed me from behind before sunrise.  That's right, I rode 16 or 17 miles and was out for over an hour and not a single car was in my lane.  And to top it off, not many cars, maybe 15, passed me in the other direction.  That was incredibly calming for a road ride.  But that didn't make it a magic hour. 

What made it magic was the quiet whenever I stopped.  It was just a calm, quiet night, late enough in the year and early enough in the day that birds and bugs were also quiet.  I stopped at one point and looked up in the sky and saw that the moon broke through the low clouds.  Every road was a calm, quiet place and some of the narrower roads seemed more like paved trails through a forest.  As the light increased closer to sunrise, I would turn off my lights for a second or two to experience the quiet, smooth roads in a very soft light.  It really was magical for me.

The sun rose eventually, although I didn't see it right away.  I made my way through Great Brook Farm Park and then south into Concord where I made my coffeeneuring stop.  I made it to Haute Coffee not long after it opened but there was already a longish wait for coffee.  I had a granola bar and an espresso.  I was at Haute Coffee the previous week and was there later and ended up enjoying coffee and conversation with 5 other guys out for rides.  This time I was the only cyclist and the only person eating outside.  It made for quiet coffeeneuring but also a very calm stop after a very calming ride.

Some pictures from the morning:

The moon breaks through the clouds.

Lights were required.  The brighter light is dynamo powered.  I've also been using a small, battery operated one on steady for rides like this.  I also have a second battery powered light in reserve.  The reserve light and the dynamo powered light also have integrated reflectors.  You can see the white light of the dynamo powered headlamp. I also have a 350 lumen rechargeable headlight in reserve.  I was wearing reflective ankle straps and a reflective vest and have reflectors on my wheels.  So I was legal by randonneuring standards and Massachusetts laws.

That's what I saw of sunrise at Great Brook Farm Park.  Not much to see that day.

Roads like these, at least at this hour (maybe 7:45) on a quiet Sunday.

Coffeeneuring proof 1.

Coffeeneuring proof 2.  I originally intended to ride the previous morning and had rain gear packed.  So when I warmed up, my sweater had to be tied onto the saddlebag.  I also intended only a short ride on Saturday so I had only a single water bottle, which was just enough to get to Concord.