November ended up being a rather nice month of riding – not at all what it promised to be coming after what had to be the crappiest October in history! Temps remained relatively mild, and although there was some rain there were only four days during the month that it actually prevented me from riding. I ended the month with 720 miles (plus I’ll get another 20+ tomorrow), and more importantly I got in a 70+ mile ride during all five weekends. Total climbing for the month was 41,000 feet, and total time in the saddle was 40 hours. These aren’t extraordinarly totals, and they aren’t meant to be (l’Etape du Tour is more than 7 months away still) – but it’s a good, solid start.
Please explain this to me. How can I ride 72 miles on the best roads that west St. Louis County has to offer on a day with no rain and temps in the mid-50s – and see only one other cyclist?
Wouldn’t you know it – just a few days after my post on passing etiquette, I get tested by the most irritating example of bad behavior that I’ve seen yet. I was deep into last Sunday’s BugMan ride and was waiting at a stoplight (eastbound on Wildhorse Creek Road, turning left onto Chesterfield Parkway) when a cyclist pulled up beside me. He was wearing one of the local cycling team kits – let’s call it “Vaginal Force” – and was somebody I recognized from my racing days but did not know by name – let’s call him… Kram… er, Kramer – yes, Kramer. The light turned green just as he was pulling up, so he mumbled some kind of greeting and then immediately shot in front of me as we began navigating through the turn. A little annoying, but he seemed to be in a hurry so whatever – if it was me, and I pulled up behind an obviously capable cyclist sitting at a stoplight, I would wait a little bit after the start to see what kind of pace he took starting up again and then gauge whether I needed to pass. I didn’t try to get on his wheel, but within a block or so I could see that I was closing and would have to decide whether I should pass. Fortunately, he turned right at Swingley Ridge before I had to make the decision, so I was spared the annoyance – I thought!
I continued on Chesterfield Parkway and turned east on Conway. After turning, I happened to look back and saw the same rider some distance behind me. Apparently he had used Swingley Ridge as a “shortcut” to get to Conway but it hadn’t worked out so well. He was pretty far back, so I figured I was safe and continued riding. I made it all the way to Hwy 141 but got stopped by the light, and before the light turned green he caught up to me. We exchanged pleasantries again, but this time when the light turned green he didn’t bolt in front of me – instead riding with me and striking up a conversation. Okay, this is cool. Unfortunately, he must have been hard of hearing, because everytime I said something, he either replied “Huh?” or said something that made it clear he misunderstood what I said. I tried speaking loudly and clearly, but this quickly became tedius, and since I really didn’t even really know the guy I found myself looking for an out. That out would come suddenly and most unexpectedly! We were approaching the stop sign at the bottom of the descent to Mason, and he had asked me if I was doing the Hwy 40 time trial. I was in the middle of answering when I began braking for the stop – and he just kept going! He just blasted right through that stop sign at full speed, with cars at the other stop signs no less! I watched him continue on in disbelief and noticed a similar look of disbelief on the face of the driver in the car waiting at the stop sign to the right. She looked at me like “Well, are you gonna run the stop sign too?!” before tentatively taking her turn. I was happy to sit and wait for her so that Vaginal Force Kramer could get up the road a bit and I wouldn’t have to deal with him anymore.
But of course, I was still not done with VFK, as I began closing on him on the climb to Hwy 270. I really didn’t want to catch him, because I was so pissed at him for what he did at the stop sign – it would take all the self-control I could muster to not chastise him for his stupidity. At the same time, I wasn’t willing to let him take me out of my ride and the way I wanted to do it. As I closed and weighed my options, I considered that maybe he was just waiting up for me, but I just didn’t believe it – if he was wanting to ride with me, he would’ve soft-pedaled or even stopped and waited after stupidly blasting through the stop sign. No, he was riding his ride and oblivious to the fact that the guy he had rode away from in mid-sentence was closing in on him. I decided the only thing I could do was go ahead and pass and hope he didn’t try to stay on me. I made my move halfway up the climb, and as I passed bit my tongue and just said, “Have a great ride!” I was climbing assertively (but not all out) to try to put some distance between us quickly so he wouldn’t think I was just trading pulls with him, but the phuquer grabbed my wheel anyway and sat there all the way up the climb. Near the summit he made the move around me, and I’d had it – I just stopped there in the road, drank some GU2O and waited until he got out of sight before continuing on. I thought my plan had backfired when I approached the stoplight at Ballas and saw him sitting there, but the light turned green well before I got there and even turned red again before that for extra safety margin. Never before have I been so happy to see a red light.
Is there something wrong with me? Why do these guys irritate me so? It almost seems like guys see my flash bike and race cut clothing and just assume I’m ready to throw down with anybody I meet on the street. I guess it’s possible that I’m just getting grouchy in my old age (although VFK was no spring chicken himself), but I really don’t think so – I love group rides, even of the “drop” variety (and even when I am the one dropped). I just like to pick the kind of riders that I ride with, and first and foremost they have to be safe! Rolling stop signs on lonely country roads is one thing – blasting them in Town & Country with cars waiting is another. It’s not a frickin’ race out there – geez!
Copyright © Ted C. MacRae 2009