October 13, 2010

Weak Signals

Earlier this year I fell victim to the right hook of an SUV.  That red SUV passed me and then turned right in front of me.  No turn signals warned me, and consequently my first road bike was totaled.

This morning I approached a red light where several cars were queued up already.  I was turning right at the intersection.  The third car in line also had a right turn signal on.  I generally will hang back of cars if there is a chance they might pull out around the line, but the pickup truck and trailer in front of that car was taking up space, so I decided it would be safe to pass that car on the right and make my turn. 

Then the light turned green.  Some quick calculations told me that there was time to make the pass.  In fact, I expected to be even with the front of the truck by the time I hit the intersection.  That would give the car plenty of time to register that I was ahead of him and that I was not going to hinder his plan in any way. 

Sure enough, I passed the car, and evened up with the front fenders of the truck.  I began to turn...and so did the truck!  Without signaling, he was now turning right into me!  To my fortune, there was enough room and time for me to simply turn sharper and not get squished.  The driver of the truck must have seen me, as he paused briefly.  No harm done, we all continued on our way.  The truck and the car both passed me and then I kept up as we descended Nemesis Hill. 

At the next light the truck was turning left.  As he stopped at the red light I looked very closely at his tail lights.  The trailer he was pulling had round, red tail-lights that barely fluttered on and off.  The lights on his truck were hardly better.  I guess it's possible that he did have his signal on at the top of the hill.  Gotta watch out for those weak signals!

October 12, 2010

Light Watchers

I'm a light watcher.  At every intersection I watch the light.  When I'm stopped I watch the opposing green light until it turns yellow.  Upon yellow, I wait a brief second before I begin clicking back into my pedal and starting out.  This way, about 75% of the time I'm actually clipped in by the time I get the green light, and regardless of my clip-status, I am almost always the first to cross the intersection. 

By first, I don't mean first bicycle...I mean first vehicle.  Amazingly, I sometimes even enter the crosswalk on the opposite side of the intersection before the traffic moving the other direction exits that crosswalk.  That generally happens when the driver going the other direction is not paying attention (read "texting"). 

This morning I came up to a red light alongside a white car.  The driver of the car was acting very much like he was also a light watcher.  As the light turned yellow he began to creep forward...as if he had taken his foot off of the brake.  I was creeping forward also as I clicked into my pedal.  As soon as the green light flashed we were off to the races!  I managed to efficiently clip in, and thus had maximum acceleration on my side.  Poor fella.  I whooped him.  Of course, he caught up with me by the next intersection.  He would have passed me too if he didn't have to turn there. 

I know it's a very short distance drag, but I rarely get beat.  I'm pretty proud of that.  I can count on it unless my competition is on a motorcycle.  Sports cars are funny competition.  These drivers are good at hitting the gas, but because they have excessive power on their side, they generally have under-developed light watching skills.  I love beating them over the roar of their engines. 

The question that plagues me is whether or not any of these people are actually in the game? 

October 11, 2010

Street Sweep

Clean roads are definitely cool.  Except when they're not.  Like when the temperature is approaching cold and I turn onto a street that was swept that morning before I arrived.  And the water from the street sweeper is still thick on the surface of the street.  And the water clings to my tires long enough to gain vertical acceleration.  And when that cold water forms droplets that spray me in the face on the coldest-yet morning of the season.

But I was happy that I didn't have to worry about glass in the road.  Cause I just had to repair a tube on Saturday.  Yeah, clean roads are cool.