Life Without Wheels: Chronicle of a Car-Free Lifestyle
 
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First off, no. This is not an update on my Double Century Odyssey. But here's a quick summary: I rode 200 miles. 

No, this is a blog post pondering how a chain of events can change the course of a life, or at least, how a chain of events seems to have changed my life. 

In October 2009, at the same time a co-worker resigned and I became a candidate for her position, my beloved Blue Huffy was stolen. I was heart broken, but made the promise that I would look at this opportunity to look for an even better bike.

I ended up with Squeaker, since renamed the Death Machine

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The Death Machine changed my life...
 
 
I have to make this post quick because I'm at work and, as you can tell by my lack of having written about my painful but awesome Double Century, I haven't had much spare time lately.

I am so tired of riders who undertake me at lights by shoaling me because they think that they are faster then me for some reason. Maybe because I'm in jeans and t-shirt on a steel bike. Maybe because I'm a woman. Maybe because they're just egotistical asses. Here's the deal though, I've been doing a lot of riding in the past few months, as most of you know. And I've been training to improve my speed. My leisure pace has gone from 15mph to 17-18mph. I can easily maintain 20mph on a flat, usually even faster.

So when Will Campbell's (@wildbell) friend--the kid in the orange with black paint spatters jersey--decided to shoal me this morning, I found it rather annoying. But here was what was more annoying:

First he shoals me, albeit while saying good morning, at 4th and Normandie. Then he runs the light. A few seconds later it turns green, and I quickly catch up with him, even though I stop or yield at every stop sign and he blatantly and dangerously runs each one. Then I see him run the light at Western and 4th, to the honking dismay of motorists who clearly don't want to be responsible for killing a young man. The light turns green, I go through and again pass him.

Then, at Norton, which is a through street, I stop (I'm on 4th) and wait for the car going North to go through. Orange jersey kid shoals right past me into the intersection and the car stops 4 feet away from giving the kid a new face. The driver looks at me, I shrug and apologize. The driver smiles, and, thankfully, I can see that by my smile at him and apologetic look that he isn't going to hold it against all cyclists. He gets that it was just that kid doing wrong because he could see me doing right. (I'm not trying to be self-righteous here; the kid was being dangerous. We all roll stop signs occassionally, but we do so with pre-caution. Not this guy.)

Long story short: I overtake him a few more times (not because I'm trying to but because he's just not as fast as me even running lights and stop signs) and he continues to shoal me and run stop lights to get ahead of me. Finally I intentionally slow and wait for a light to turn red and let him go through so I can just be rid of him. He was weaving in and out of parked cars, weaving into the limit line through intersections...I was just waiting to watch him get hit (it was very stressful to watch him ride) and then I'd have to call 911.

Here's the lesson...You should NEVER assume you know how fast some one is going to be. I've seen old men on mountain bikes smoke my ass. I've lapped skinny dudes on carbon fiber bikes. Do what you should do: come up behind, determine speed, pass on the left, and leave your ego at home. When you come up to an intersection where you see a cyclist waiting, pull up behind them like any car would do. Don't force them further to the left because you're an ass. Don't put them in greater danger because you can't pass properly. If you shoal some one and the undertake them (basically pass them but then go slower) you force them further into traffic so they can pass you again, and again, and again. And they should only have to do that once. Commuting to and from work isn't a competition...

And trust me, I'm becoming familiar with competition, as you'll soon hear because I've decided to train for a triathlon and eventually do an Ironman. Yup, you heard it. I'm insane.