Thursday, February 28, 2008


What is it with wheelsuckers? The other day I was enjoying a leisurely afternoon cruise and managed to catch another rider. The rider was going the same direction, a little more slowly than me. I hung back about a dozen yards for a while to see if they were going to increase their speed, but they were actually decreasing a little. I decided to pass them and resume my pace. After passing and getting down the road a little ways, I hear a chain on derailluer cogs close behind me. This goofball decided to drop in on my wheel unannounced, which is something I detest when it comes to strangers who I do not know, or trust to have sufficient bicycle handling skills. I immediately slowed my cadence and informed this person that they were unwelcome. When this person decided to laugh at my disdain, they were treated to a descriptive expletive. The best part was watching them looking over their shoulder after shifting down their cogset and trying to drop me. They never got closer than a hundred yards or further than a quarter of a mile, all the while I'm keeping the same cadence that a one speed bicycle allows riders to do with relative ease. He must be very proud of himself, "dropping" someone on a 24 year old steel bicycle with one gear and probably weighs about eight pounds more than his carbon wonderbike does.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Some People's Kids

While walking my bicycle on the sidewalk between the driveway and my apartment yesterday, there were two kids blocking the sidewalk. Both were about ten to twelve years old, one on a skateboard and the other sitting on a bicycle. As I approached, the one on the bicycle saw me and moved to the side to allow me to get by. The kid on the skateboard saw me and stayed right where he was. I walked up and stopped, waiting for the kid on the skateboard to do something. After about ten seconds of looking at this kid, I finally asked, "Are you going to move, or what?" The kid jumps off of his skateboard, leaving it blocking the sidewalk and looks at me with a "what are you going to do now?" look. His skateboard got a free flight into the grass with the assistance of my foot. He started to say something and I told him if he has anything to say to send one or both of his parents over to talk with me. I sure hope he has a nice career at McDonald's.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008


I guess that using a left turn lane on a green arrow is probable cause for some police officers to contact bicyclists. Having been in Law Enforcement for a solid fifteen years, I know better. It was a case of profiling, plain and simple.

The number one and number two lanes were clear enough for my move to the turn lane lane, which was preceded by a hand signal. I had both an operating headlight and taillight on my bicycle. What was I guilty of? It would seem that I was guilty of riding a bicycle around 10:30PM, going much faster than the usual nighttime sidewalk riders in the area, and being assertive about it while using the traffic lanes. I was probably guilty of not being geared up as a recreational cyclist as well, wearing jeans, a sweatshirt and no bicycle specific gear.

Getting contacted by LE was not that confusing because I get contacted often enough for riding my bicycle in traffic and being assertive about it. The car culture is so ingrained here, many LE members just aren't aware of what a cyclist's rights in the roadway truly are. This is especially true at night, when normal people wouldn't even consider taking a ride on a beach boardwalk bike path. What was confusing was the manner in which I was treated by the individual who decided to contact me.

Knowing what I know about LE, of course there was nothing for me to do but cooperate and be respectful of the fact that this person was doing what the taxpayers pay them to do. All of my responses ended with "sir". I pulled in to the parking lot just beyond the intersection and dismounted my bicycle as he zoomed into the parking lot behind me, tires screeching to a halt. Ok, he's a little worked up. He starts in with my he stopped me, claiming I "pulled right out in front of him", to which I replied that I saw a car approaching, thought I had enough room and signaled my intentions before changing lanes. He either didn't see me stick my arm out, or neglected to mention that he did.

Then he starts in on a battery of standard and some not so standard questions. I didn't have my driver's license on me because I was not driving, nor do I carry a wallet, which he claimed was not normal. He didn't believe me when I told him my age, or my name and basically called me a liar in so many words. Then he does a flashlight eye check on me to see if I'm under the influence of methamphetamine. After that, he tells me, "Just admit it and I'll go easy on you." I replied, "Admit what?" "Admit you're lying about your name and you have warrants." "I don't know what you're talking about because I have never had a warrant for my arrest." Then he starts in again about not believing who I say I am and then asks who he can call to confirm who I am. Without batting an eye or missing a beat I recited the phone number of the last LE agency I worked for and said to call them and the supervisor on duty will be able to describe me. It would have been even nicer if he had thought I was bluffing and called them.

After deflating a substantial amount and obviously standing down, he ran me through CLETS to check my driver's license. Of course I have a valid driver's license and no warrants. I'm just someone who is as they say they are, a citizen going home after an evening out, nothing more, nothing less. His well toned-down "have a nice evening" when he let me go was a true testament to him knowing he had screwed up.

I'm certain that if I had lodged a complaint against this officer and that whole contact had been recorded, there would have been a problem for him. I can honestly say that I was not in the least bit disrespectful to this officer, though his actions were far less than respectful of me in turn. I'm not about revenge or causing problems for an officer just because they had a severe lapse in judgement. I never know when that very same officer is going to save my bacon when something goes wrong beyond my control when riding at night. He can probably thank the benevolent Whittier officers who responded to the hit and run where my friend Kenny and I got hit last year.

They never really know who they have until they push too far and that sometimes goes for either side of the good guy/bad guy coin.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

R.I.P. Sheldon Brown

Word came down last week that Sheldon Brown had a massive heart attack and passed on. The cycling world mourns and he will be missed by many. Ride on, Captain Bike!