Sorry Guy.

So no foolin' there I was riding home from work. The immediate start of my homeward commute is a quick downhill followed by a long false flat that turns into a deceptively hard half mile climb. I was riding my raleigh twenty shod with studded tires. As a result I was out of the saddle on the false flat trying to maintain some semblance of momentum to start me on the way up the hill. I am sartorially splendid in exactly what I wore to work. Jeans and a couple of layers of wool and button shirts and a sweater. My overstuffed with god knows what messenger bag is resting in my sexy berkeley farms non-gbh milk crate ziptied to the rack on the raleigh twenty.

As I start grinding up the hill in gear four out of five, out of the saddle, thinking that I can probably get up to the fifth gear and get a bit of workout in on the brief ride home, I look across the wiiiiide breakdown lane and see a guy, a big guy, sort of slowly blow past me way over in the sand at crumbly margins of the road. When I say big guy, well, I am a big guy, he was a really big guy, maybe 50 pounds on me, maybe more, and I am doing OK in the weight class, hailing from los alamos neeeeeew mexico anda weighing in ata 195 poundsa.

So big guy is cruising on by on his skinny tired carbon trek looking bike. He is resplendent in lycra bike shorts and a neon yellow jersey. I shout out to him, as he is way over ten feet away on the here-be-dragons part of the pavement, "Hey! Howyadoing!"

I get no response, he does not even look at me. He is rocking the ipod in the bicep holster and is putting me away for good. He has a little pack on the back. It is dusk. I note he has a pretty good little blinky on there. He probably just big ringed it down the hill and coasted through the false flat and was hammering down about to blow by me.

This happens to me all the time. Right in that very spot. I am cruising home on a some flavor of dumb bike and someone blows by me in, say, aerobars in full on lycra pedaling like mad on a performance lugged tri bike that has not been overhauled since friction shifting was in vogue. Usually there is not much to do but watch them dust me. Occasionally, yeah performance bike guy this is you, joefastguy misunderestimates both the hill and me, the guy he just blew by, who is riding a girls bike with a huge basket, and perhaps I catch you while I am honking so hard on my three speed bike that the tires rub the fenders with each pedal stroke emits horrible pain noise. Not often do I take the bait, but I usually make exceptions for performance bike aerobar guy.

So big big guy blows by me the slow way and I am pretty content to let him go. At the top of the hill there are a series of rollers that I can't keep up with most roadies when I am on dumb bikes, so no need to engage. It is a nice evening, warmish for the first time in months. The mountains there over town are highlighted with pink. I can chill. I down shift and sit and spin and wait for big guy to keep on keeping on. But he doesn't. He slows. I can play this game too. I back off a bit and spin. It is probably his first day commuting, he probably is trying to get some exercise and maybe loose some weight. No need to blow by him on the dumb bike.

Except, he neither said hi nor looked at me. Nor did he keep on going. Nope. He popped like a balloon. And I caught him, while spinning in second, not even half way up the hill, that gets worse up toward the top. Crap. So I look over to see if he is in the hi-what-a-great-day-for-a-bike-ride mood yet. Nope. No eye contact. Nothing. Dammit, it is a great day for a bike ride.

Well then. I am not waiting. I gave him his chance to ride off or be sociable or even to grunt a hey. Laters pal, I can still get a bit of a workout in on the way home. I kind of ramp it up as the hill gets steeper, spinning, upshifting standing to spinning and then sitting. I hit the rollers and ride along at a good clip. About a half mile later I look back to see when he is going to blow by me as the low rollers favor the strong pedaler on the fast bike. And he is not there. Nope, he is about a quarter mile behind me. I will not see him again tonight. No indeed. I may not see him ever again in fact.

I kind of feel like an ass. I just rode a, to put it bluntly, really big fat guy off my wheel on what I guess was his first day commuting of the year and perhaps his first time ever as I have never seen him on the road before, I think I know all the other regular commuters pretty well.

Anyhow, I am sorry, guy. I tried to be sociable, I tried to let you go on your merry way. I hope you keep riding.

Loose the ipod and say hello to people you pass or when they pass you. Los Alamos is filled with aerobic freakazoids, so watch out who you decide to try and dust. Ride over by the white line, not over by the ditch. Maybe you had a bad day at work, maybe you were barely holding it together, maybe you needed to blow some other cyclists doors off. I hope I see you out there commuting again. But really man, sorry.


Chad said...

I kept expecting to read the part where you stopped at a red light, and he blew right through the intersection on his way to Baranca Mesa.

Would you ride home, get on the Kelly, and chase him down again?

Mauricio Babilonia said...

I guess it would be one thing if he had so much as looked at you, but I'm not sure you owe the big guy anything.

It happens every spring here too, when the lizards come out from under their rocks and peer down on those of us riding dumb bikes from their gaudy Bud can and Carbon Feebray mounts and then have the gall to look all indignant when they find out the hard way that those of us who have ridden all winter have a higher VO2 max. (Su-prize!) Eesh, I'll tell ya...it's coming up in April or May and golly, I can hardly wait.

ALBERT said...

My experience from riding in and around Los Alamos the last 20+ years is that about half of the riders I meet on the road will respond to my greetings and the other half will ignore me. Whatever....

gpickle said...

Oh Crap Tarik, that was you? Sorry man, I was just keeping an eye on my heart rate monitor and trying to stay at 85% of my zone 3.5 capacity plus a really good 38 special tune had just come on the ol' ipod so I was kind of distracted. You know how it is!

Catch up with you next time I happen to be commuting in Los Alamos...

Tarik Saleh said...

The funny part was, as I was psuedo cursing him under my breath, I was thinking I bet he doesn't stop at red lights either.

Yeah, we get a bit of that. Everyone in town rides, hardly anyone commutes.

I think I feel bad as kind of feel like I unecessarily demoralized him on a hoopty bike at the end. I don't require a hi from every cyclist, but when you are passing someone slowly you should at least grunt or something. like "sup" or "uhn" or "unnnnnhgrh"...

I thought I heard the tinny refrains of 38 special as you tried to pass me. Tell Cody the veggie diet is not really working so well for you.

John Speare said...

That is a great post Tarik. I remember when I first started commuting in the Seattle are when I was in the giant dude category: for sure deuce and half, maybe more. I did this same ridiculous thing on the "520 hill" to some real cyclist; I nearly gave myself a coronary passing him. The frustration and shame still bites at me as I think about how he effortlessly glided past me as I attempted to not vomit. Of course I did not make eye contact when I passed him or when he sailed past me. Don't feel too bad; you might have helped the guy. I learned how to climb (still slow, but steady) a couple months later and that event was a big catalyst.

Tarik Saleh said...


Thanks for replying, that is what I was getting at exactly. I got this vibe when he was slowing down and blowing up that he was just completely demoralized in the process. He did not look at me when he passed me as he was "putting me away" he did not look at me when I passed him back as he was completely demoralized. There were some body language clues as well, slumping over and the like. Anyhow, I hope you are right, this is the start to a great cycling career for him. And soon he will have a useful cycling blog too...