Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Hey! Ho! Let's go!

People who indulge in rhythmic exercise - rowing, running, cycling, and the like - often have a song in their heads that goes at the same tempo. On my slow days, it's Frank Sinatra with something soulful. But on the fast days, like today, it's something more upbeat like the Ramones "Blitzkrieg Bop"! It really helps to get up the hills.

I read of a guy climbing Kilimanjaro once, and he had some silly kid's song in his head, something like the Oscar Mayer wiener song. The only problem was, he was suffering hypoxia, the lack of oxygen, and he was actually singing the song aloud over and over and over! His companions were nearly ready to kill him.

Today's weather forecast called for a mixture of rain and snow. The temperature was just above freezing - plenty cold by Oklahoma standards. I put the rain jacket in my bag, but I was thinking that a year ago, I would have driven the car to work on a similar morning. What changed? My daughter got her driver's license.

No. 1 Daughter now refers to the family car as HER car. She's a bit annoyed to pay $20 or more to fill the gas tank, though. I don't buy much gas anymore, but I'll put a tankful in when I do need to drive. It's funny how that works. I normally fill the tank. Daughter rarely puts more than half a tank in. She pointed out that a full tank costs about as much as a pair of shoes! The girl definitely has different priorities.

Last night, No. 1 Son had some recommendations about the next car I should buy, primarily because he believes his older sister will get the present one, and if he plays his cards right, he'll get the next one. So his 'suggestions' ranged from manly SUVs to powerful sports cars and muscle cars. Who'd have guessed? I told him I was aware of his game, and there was little chance I'd buy one of the vehicles he wanted. Besides, unless his grades improve dramatically, he won't get a driver's license in this
lifetime if I can help it.

He also has his eye on my carbon fiber Giant. I told him that he has strong, well developed thumbs from playing video games, and unless he starts riding his bike soon, there's no chance that I'll give him my racing bike.

I think that as the temperatures climb, we'll see more cyclists on the roads because of the rising fuel prices. There are always more cyclists in the summer, naturally, and too many of them are riding the wrong way against traffic or riding on the sidewalk. There are more motor scooters out too, and some of them ride the sidewalks. Even my doctor, an educated man, refuses to ride his bicycle on the street because he believes it's too dangerous.

And that belief is the critical part of that sentence. Most people believe - wrongly - that riding a bicycle on the road is a feat performed by those with a strong death wish, and no amount of statistics will convince them otherwise. They believe they're safer riding against traffic or up on a sidewalk. We've had 2 deaths recently involving cyclists who swerved all the way across the road as overtaking traffic approached and were hit by an on-coming vehicle.

"Everyone knows" that riding a bicycle in traffic is dangerous, just like "everyone knew" that the Earth was flat and Columbus would fall off the edge.


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