A Tale of Two Cyclists

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I hate cyclists.  “Hate” is perhaps a strong word, but seeing spandex-festooned cyclists riding in the middle of a busy lane during rush hour raises my hackles almost as much as seeing the US Constitution written in Spanish.

This topic came to mind on my morning commute.  The South Carolina Department of Transportation is working on a large section of US 401, which means my normal drive has been diverted onto some rural State roads, some of which are so narrow that two vehicles can barely squeeze past one another.

It was on one of these rural side roads—SC 48, I believe—that I drove past the first of the two cyclists mentioned in this list.  This type of cyclist deserves better than the name, because this gentleman was not the spandex-spangled rider that so attracts my ire.

The rider was a black man of indeterminate age.  He was wearing street clothes, and riding what appeared to be a fairly rundown bike—something that a teenager would ride through the dewy meadows of suburbia.  In his left hand he was holding some kind of light, either a cellphone flashlight or a little portable electric lantern.  I gathered that this light was to signal his presence to drivers.

I have no beef with this gentleman.  I see bike riders like him all the time in the rural South.  Due to some combination of poverty and necessity, these men—they’re almost always men—simply have no other choice but to ride a bike on dangerous country roads to get around.  Yes, they represent an inconvenience to drivers, as they slow down traffic, and they are engaged in dangerous activity, but it’s out of sheer necessity—they have no other choice, and need to get to work.

It’s the second cyclist—a group, I should say—that earned my early morning rage.  As I drove past a rural fire station, there was a fleet of SUVs, each massive vehicle unloaded by impossibly thin, middle-aged man in skin-tight Lycra.  Fortunately, I did not have to sit behind them in traffic as they rode—inevitably—three abreast in morning rush hour traffic, refusing to yield the lane to the very same massive automobiles they all drive.

These cyclists disgust me for a number of reasons.  First of all, what arrogance!  These guys always push for bike lanes—a huge waste of money and asphalt—and think that their rinky-dink racing bikes are the equivalent to a Buick.  “Share the road”—bah!

Secondly, who has the freedom to ride around on a bike on a Tuesday morning?  Shouldn’t you be working?  What kind of job gives people the flexibility to ride expensive bicycles around in the middle of the workweek?

Thirdly, and lastly, you know anyone riding around in form-fitting athletic wear with a big gay helmet on his head is a simpering progressive.  I hate to be this way—I’m sure there are conservatives who engage in this annoying, dangerous, elitist activity—but we live in an age when lifestyle choices are a statement of political and ideological affiliation.  It’s why these aloof hipsters expect public funding to go to widen lanes to accommodate their incredibly niche activity.

At least the guy riding with the phone in one hand, sans helmet, looks kind of cool.  Motorcyclists annoy me slightly, too—if you need an entire public service campaign to tell people to watch out for you on the road, you’re essentially forcing me to pay to educate people not to hit you thanks to your ultra-dangerous mode of transportation—but at least that’s super cool.  I mean, I will never own or drive a motorcycle (unless my back is really against the wall), but they are the coolest form of transportation.

Put another way:  motorcycles are like cigarettes:  cool, but dangerous and life-threatening.  Professional bicycling is like vaping:  a cheap knock-off that’s lame, and still likely to blow up in your face.

Stop cluttering streets with your stupid hobby—or at least try to do it when it’s safe and there aren’t thousands of cars on the road—and scolding me for not wanting to subsidize it.

One thought on “A Tale of Two Cyclists

  1. […] “A Tale of Two Cyclists” – One of my more frivolous and cantankerous posts, this short screed denounces “spandex-festooned cyclists riding in the middle of a busy lane during rush hour.”  Yet my sympathies are entirely with the second cyclist, “a black man of indeterminate age…. wearing street clothes, and riding what appeared to be a fairly rundown bike.”  I have no problem with folks who use a bike as their primary means of transportation, lacking any other options.  But these large groups of “cyclists” who ostentatiously hog entire lanes at 5 PM drive me batty. […]

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