Friday, March 17, 2006

Rants and Reports.

That's it. I have totally had it with the total lack of driving skills among the people I have to share the road with. Actually, I don't think we're even sharing the road. That implies that both parties are present. These people are "out there" someplace. The only problem is that there's a dangerous ton and a half of steel with no pilot. I heard an ad on the radio that was trying to sell people on some sort of hypnotherapy. "Come let us hypnotize you and we'll help you with whatever problem you may have". I'm telling you what. It had better be a lot of sessions because one session just won't cut it. There are just too many problems to deal with. Besides which, people carry and use their own Great Hypnotist, the ubiquitous cell phone.

The problem isn't in finding a way to put people IN a trance. What would really blow me away is if somebody found a way to take the general population OUT of their trances. Individuals have intelligence and ability. "People", as in the mass of drivers, are getting more stupid and oblivious all the time. Readers, I count you in the first group. If you're reading this you have a little more going for you than the masses do.

Let me go back and catch up. I've seen five bikes in the last few days. The 919 guy seems to be missing in action or we are on different times now. I'm waiting to see what happens next week. Are riders waiting for that magic date that officially starts spring?

The snow we were predicted to have didn't happen. The snow was a no-show. ( sorry, just liked the way that sounded to me ) The ride to the office was chilly but refreshing. I even got a ride in at lunch time. Just wandered around town in some sections I haven't been to for a while. Not all who wander are lost, you know. When it came time to leave for home there was a big rain shower going on. Made me want to put my helmet on BEFORE I went outside. You'd think I would learn but I seem to be some sort of Pollyanna. I always think things will be different this time. Yes, I hit the stinking freeway for the ride home.

I had a lot going on and succumbed to the time pressure. We have a class of a dozen new instructor candidates going through training this weekend. I needed a haircut, had to get all my stuff together for the training, and find time to eat supper. Silly me, I figured I could make a little time on the freeway. As soon as I jumped on I remembered why I HATE the freeway!

This ride was to bring a little danger, a ton of frustration, a little misguided flirting, and some livestock sitings. While the experience was varied, the overall score was still low for the enjoyment factor. Super-slabbing on the Interstate can suck at times.

There are so many drivers who think the left lane is their God-given inheritance or something. Maybe they just don't have lane changing skills so they stay in that lane. I don't know. It's so frustrating when the drivers camp out there. Where the heck did common courtesy go? Why can't they pass the vehicle in the right lane and then just GET OUT OF THE WAY??? My kingdom for a rocket launcher.

One of the trucks I passed turned out to be a cattle truck. It's hard to tell at first because the trailer is all closed in. The big silver metal slabs with slats cut in it are a clue. You have to be careful following these. A different kind of emissions, you know. This trailer was a double-decker. There was a black and white face looking out one of the slats. What must it be like for a cow to be on the top deck of a fast moving trailer?

A little later I came across a rental type moving truck. One of those big International models. I am passing but not at lightning speed. Normally I just go around quickly and then slow back down to legal speeds. There was a car in the left lane that blocked the quick option. So I'm passing this truck going about 6 or 7 MPH faster. To survive as a bike commuter you need to be looking out for yourself. Always looking for the clue that gives you warning of trouble before you see the actual hazard. It's a totally ingrained habit for me. So I watch front wheels and sideview mirrors. I can see the driver's face in the mirror. Seeing a driver do a mirror check can warn you of a possible lane change. The driver never turns his head. I am almost up to the cab when the front wheel turns and the truck starts to come slowly into my lane. So I give the throttle a little squirt and get even with the cab. This guy has a cell phone plastered to his head and is holding a cup in the other hand. God only knows what the dude was steering with.

Intentional or drifting the truck is still slowly coming over. I lay on the horn such as it is. I can get out of the way but I want this idiot to see my displeasure. When I see the guy finally look over to see what the funny noise was, I gave him a one-fingered salute with my left hand. I don't usually do this but hey, it happens. Here's the funny part. The guy shakes his head like he's waking up, his eyes get wide, and he drops the cup. The truck jerks back to the right and I figure he's going off the road on the right. It finally gets back on track after the right side wheels are close to the gravel shoulder.

I guess rental truck companies need to make a living but come on, folks. If any fool with the deposit money and a driver's license can go drive a truck without the skills required there's a flaw here. I think there should be some sort of short skill evaluation or something. It's almost as bad as some guy who can barely see and walk driving a monster motor home with a trailer behind it. Almost enough to make me crap my riding pants. Truly scary.

Don't even get me started on cell phones. I swear every other car has a cell phone impaired driver. They are in a trance. Sometimes I yell in my helmet. It's a car, not a phone booth! I'm sorry to bother you, but could you please HANG UP AND DRIVE???

There was a couple of lighter spots. At one point I slowly passed a Toyota Rav 4 filled with about six young girls that appeared to be college kids. There was a decal from a local university on the back window. As I passed they all waved, smiled big, and one gave me the peace sign. I noticed they didn't do this to the guy in the cargo van or other cars. Oh, they'll think I'm the cool guy on the bike. I could just see us coincidentally stopping at a service station or rest stop. As soon as I remove my helmet and they see the grey hairs the illusion will be shattered. Better to let them think what they want without seeing the reality, huh?

Off Hwy. 34 is a ramp that curves fairly hard. I caught up to a big pickup pulling a trailer. The trailer had about 4 foot high walls and an open back. The top and back were covered with fencing material. I could clearly see inside the trailer. It was half full of brown turkeys. It was so funny to watch the turkeys. The floor of the trailer was covered in runny turkey poop. The light rain added to the mess. I was careful not to get too close, believe me. It was just funny to watch the birds on the corner. Centrifugal force was making them slide in the poop. Some squatted but some tried to stay standing. Funnier than heck watching the poor birds try to deal with it.

So that was the ride. They say variety is the spice of life. I think I'm going to find my Rolaids to deal with the heartburn.


Gary Charpentier said...

You know what? That trance is encouraged from on high, in the halls of government and big business. This is how they maintain control of the general population.

Give the people SUVs and lots of cheap gadgets, along with plenty of propaganda on TV, and you can do whatever you want in foreign policy and finance, because nobody will be paying attention.

During the fall of the Roman Empire, it was bread, wine, and circuses.

Ride wary,

Steve Williams said...

I agree with Gary that we are all being seduced into thinking we can have every comfort and accomodation whenever and wherever we want. It feeds our egos and makes us feel important. As it virally spreads into cages the result seems to be a decline in driver and road awareness, courtesy, and safety. But what reasonable course of action can I take?

Obviously I can't re-educate other drivers through hand gestures or screams. And, for me, here lies the evil of it all. I have expectations of how others should behave and act on the road. And when they don't live up to these expectations I get angry. And when I am angry, my mind functions at a less than optimum level. On the road that can be deadly.

As much as possible I try to just let it go. I try to think of other drivers as wild animals doing what they genetically are compelled to do. And I try to observe and react accordingly. The Croc Hunter shouldn't be surprised that the croc might try to bite him....

Does this mean I'm fiddling while Rome burns? I don't know. But I do know that I am a lot happier when I am not expecting the world to live on my terms and by my rules.

Be careful out there you ranter! *grin*


Mad said...

Here's a statistic that I found in the MCN (UK bike weekly paper). With the proliferation of gadgets in cars - MP3 players, sat-navs, phones etc - drivers are taking their eyes off the road for up to seven seconds at a time.
I keep honing my road positioning to give myself maximum space from these numptys and their toys...

irondad said...

I am so behind on replies. What a whirlwind few days!

The Romans also drank wine from lead goblets, you know. Another example of how their pleasures literally killed them. Distract and conquer. You got it.

I don't think you're fiddling while Rome burns. One of my operating mottos is "Never wrestle with a pig. The pig loves it and you'll just get dirty". Another is "never try to teach a pig to sing, it wastes your time and annoys the pig".
So I know I can't try to change everybody, they will be what they are. I just make sure I don't fall to the same level.

ONLY seven seconds? I see people reading all the time. Keep sharp, friend.