Sunday, July 3, 2011

yes, but you should be quite good

Yesterday the Contraption Captain and I wanted to run a particular errand together in nearby Palo Alto.  Sparkle Pony was at our place with bff visiting and so stayed home but at the last minute Rapunzel decided that she wanted to come along with I got out the Extracycle (aka The Beast, The Station Wagon, the ohmigod it's so heavy I'm gonna die) and we all trooped out.

The way in was uneventful.  We hit the target store (not a Target, just a target, WAY WAY not a Target ohmigod not a Target) on time and then went to the lovely Coupa Cafe for a treat.

On the way home we came to the intersection of El Camino and Sand Hill Road.  There's a special sign that lights up at this intersection that says "Behave like an overgrown three year old driving a tank."  I can't see it but I know it's there as why else would people be such assholes?  This translates to the cars running the red light a lot and making illegal right on red turns (it is marked as No Turn on Red.)

Here's a picture:

View Larger Map

You can see how the white van is blocking the sidewalk and you can see the multi-use path a bicyclist carrying a small child might want to take.  And yes, the cars on this shot are innocent, they have a green light.  But when I cross here the light is red, kk?

I care particularly about the turn on red thing because the cars either charge forward and threaten to kill me or they crawl forward and then delicately stop when they see me, perfectly blocking access to the bike path I am trying to reach.  I only need the bike path to grant me breathing room from their bad behaviors.

Yesterday was the latter situation.  I get a green light coupled with a walk signal.  I start forward and watch the car roll up and nicely block off all access to the bike path.  On at least one occasion I had a temper tantrum here and forced three cars to reverse before I would get out of there way.  I am attempting to learn control of said temper.

Contraption Captain gestured that she (driver) should back up but she threw up her hands.  There was someone already behind her.  What was a poor lass to do?

She had a very shiny car.  I was sorely tempted but I have Rapunzel to think about.

My lower lip is prodigious in size.  I've been sticking it out when I'm unhappy for decades.  If I am really unhappy it can be seen in the next state.

I'm now in front of her car.  I look glumly through her windshield.  My lower lip sticks out.  I'm the picture of pathos.  Just a very very very sad mom.  Rapunzel stares blankly at the car.  Slowly slowly slowly I inch my huge bicycle around the shiny BMW.  I've got one foot on the ground.  I limp as if I'd been shot.  My lip trembles a little.  I stare at the driver.  She looks around to see if anyone she knows is nearby.

And then we continue on our way and as soon as we are out of sight I start laughing.  So we go along for a bit  talking and enjoying ourselves and eventually we come to a red light.  A middle-aged female roadie walks her bicycle past me and I eye her a little frostily.  She says  "Do you mind if I get in front?"

She's already in front of us.  I say nothing.  I think:  "If you have to ask, you probably suck."  Contraption Captain says "There it is" in an even tone.  Cause ummm, you've already done it, right?

Competent cyclists never have to ask.  They just flow around the slower bicyclists, gauging speed and distance.  I considered the expensive bicycle, the arty spandex and I thought "I'm going to school you while riding a heavy over-sized bicycle while carrying a seven year old."

And I did.  She took off and I followed her.  She looked back and I wasn't pedaling.  She tried to accelerate and I followed along.  Nothing mean, nothing threatening just non-stop "you are so s  l  o  w."  We started the steep climb and then I passed her on the left and flew up the hill while she turned off.

Two morals here:

1.  If the sign says "no turn on red" stop at the white line.
2.  If you suck, don't shoal other bicyclists.

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