Posts Tagged ‘Slippery When Wet’

Everybody’s Got Their Own Agenda

March 24, 2015

I heard her voice in my head as I shouted at the woman who passed me on the right and pushed me into traffic on the commute into work.

I had already had a few moments of uneasiness on my bicycle.

It rained last night.

Not a lot.

But enough.

The roads were slick this morning and as I was pedaling across Lincoln at 20th my back wheel slipped under me a moment.

I righted and breathed and continued forward, cautious, but aware.

Again the wheel slipped, just a touch, rounding a corner in the Pan Handle.

When it’s just damp enough to cause all the street oil to sluice up to the top of the pavement it feels scarier then when it is a full on down pour.

Slick roads are worse in my estimation than rain.

I thought about the rest of the commute and that I had time.

I always give myself ten minutes more than I need to get to work.

I like to get off my bike, stretch out my shoulders, wiggle out any kinks in my legs and drink some water.

I like to also have caught my breath and had a moment to get centered before entering the fray.

Monday’s especially can be a ruckus, especially after having two days with mom and dad, the charges are not always grateful to see me, despite having fun moments after I arrive.

Upon arrival I often hear a “no!” or “go away!” or the pitter patter of feet running to mom and dad.

That’s ok.

I’m used to it kid.

Sometimes I get the opposite response, but not always.

So, lots of time for me to travel my way cross town.

Monday’s are also a challenge for me as a bicycle commuter.

It is the one day of the week that I go into work early and as such I am in actual commuter traffic.

Not just car commuter and Google Bus commuter, but bicycle commuter, traffic.

I will forget, have forgotten, most other days that there are many, many, many more bicycles on the road then there used to be and also that four days of the week I am riding in to work outside of busy rush hour traffic.

Not so Mondays.

I generally am hitting the end of the rush, but I can get caught in it, or catch up to it, almost always on the Wiggle, sometimes in the Pan Handle if the lights are not in my favor.

I was doing alright after negotiating the Wiggle until I crossed Duboce and hopped onto Sanchez.

As I was crossing over Market headed toward 17th, a rider passed me on the right.

DON’T PASS ON THE RIGHT!

I yelled, startled.

Damn it lady.

You’re forcing me into traffic and riding in my blind spot.

Stupid lady.

I didn’t say bitch.

No.

I was annoyed though and thought about giving her a lecture on being polite to other bicyclists.

I mean, I pass cars all the time on the right, except when they are signaling a right turn, then I go around to the left.

Bicyclists and pedestrians, though, I always pass on the left.

And yes.

I am that annoying person who hollers out, “on your left.”

Sometimes I will whistle sharply if I think a person can’t hear me who may be crossing an intersection while looking at their phone screen.

But most of the time I pass on the left and I let you know that I am there.

It’s something I learned on training rides in 2010 when I rode in the Aids LifeCycle tour from San Francisco to Los Angeles.

I learned a lot on those rides.

How to fix a flat, how to carry momentum to get up a hill, how to ride clipless, how to ride a back to back, how to ride a Century (100 miles) what it felt like to bonk, what I needed to do to not bonk, how it felt riding Whites Hill in Marin the first time.

How it felt climbing Mount Tam and doing the Southern Hills Climb.

How saddle sores felt.

I happily will skip having that experience again.

I occasionally rue not having registered for the ride this year, I was thinking about it a lot, but I decide to apply to graduate school and go to Atlanta for the International Conference, and see my grandmother in Chula Vista and go to Burning Man.

That’s more than enough for my plate this year.

And I still have a few ideas up my sleeve for travel.

I learned a lot of courtesy on those rides and what it felt like when another rider did not extend the same courtesy to me.

Sometimes I can be an asshole and need to prove a point and I could feel that come up in me when I saw the woman on her bicycle stopped at the traffic light at Sanchez and 16th.

I wanted to lecture her.

I wanted to tell her how it’s done.

I know better though.

It’s not my place to tell another person how to live their life and I had a flash of a driver yelling out the window at me to “wear a fucking helmet!”

Which doesn’t do much from saving my startled self when I get screamed at.

Hey asshat, when you are so focused on the behavior of someone else you’re ignoring yourself.

Just saying.

So when I coasted in to a stop at 16th and Sanchez I held my tongue.

I looked at the woman.

She was oblivious.

She was not seeing me as I was straddling my bike waiting for the light to change.

She also was fiddling with her phone and had ear phones in, so the likelihood that she heard me holler about passing on the right was nil, and she wasn’t going to hear me and my “friendly” I know better bicycle protocol about passing on the right.

I paused.

And I brought my attention to the road ahead of me.

The trickiest part of the commute, especially when its slick, the turn at Sanchez onto 17th.

There’s a great bike lane on 17th, but turning left I have to cross two sets of MUNI train tracks at a parallel instead of simply cutting straight across.

It is far to easy too slip on them.

I have in the past, but never gone down.

I kept my counsel, the light changed.

The woman hadn’t seen the light change, she was a bit behind me.

I signalled a left turn.

I signalled that I was slowing down, that’s a flat open palm hanging down at a right angle waving back and forth (think of a reverse beauty pageant queen on a float waving).

Then I signalled that I was coming to a slow stop.

A squeezing in of my hand into a ball.

I turned left.

I crossed at a diagonal and made it completely over the tracks with no slippage, I turned my head, the woman was directly to my left, riding in between the train tracks, not even in the bicycle lane.

“It’s your life lady,” I thought to myself and then, out of no where, I should move over, she’s going to pass me and cut me off again at the light.

I could just feel it.

Except.

Well.

She wiped out on the tracks.

She went down.

Hard.

I am still not sure how I avoided hitting her.

She was passing me and her bicycle nearly toppled me, I weaved to the right, and rolled off my pedals, sliding my feet out of my foot retention straps (oh how do I love thee my Hold Fast straps) and squeezing slow and steady on my brake so I wouldn’t slip too.

It all happened in slow motion.

I can still see her right hand, fingers spread, reaching to catch her fall, I can see how if I hadn’t swerved just at that moment, how I would have rolled over her hand.

I shudder.

She broke her basket on her bike and bananas flew into the street.

A car drove over one and the smell of ripe banana wafted over the tracks and assaulted my nose.

“Are you ok?” I asked, stopping, looking back, “do you need help?”

“I’m ok, I’m ok,” she stood.

I watched her pick up her bicycle and shakily run her hands over her body.

“Are you sure?” I asked again.

“Yeah, thanks,” she said and waved me off.

The car that had rolled over the banana was stopped a few feet a head of me.

I rolled up on her.

“She ok?” The driver leaned out the window.

“Yeah, she’s ok,” I smiled.

The driver smiled.

“Whew.”

Be careful out there kids.

I was a little discombulated but so grateful that I hadn’t yelled at her.

That I kept my lecture to myself.

I am certain she learned what she needed.

That’s the thing.

We all learn exactly what we need when we need it and I can’t hurry any one’s process up.

Mine included.

I can be right.

Or.

I can be happy.

And today I was very happy to make it to work in one piece.

Very happy.

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Slippery When Wet

December 3, 2014

A. The name of an album my sister gave me when I was a sophomore in highschool.

B. The roads this morning and evening on my bicycle commute through the wilds of San Francisco.

C. The two-year old jumping in and out of the bathtub this evening.

D. All of the above.

It was an intense day.

Not a horrible one, but lots of small things that put me just a tiny bit off kilter.

I don’t believe that I acted off kilter though, or mean, or upset, or anything generally, other than serene.

I gave myself extra time this morning to ride my bicycle to work–it’s rainy out their folks go slow–the roads are slick, the paint on the roads is slippery and the leaves and acorns and walnuts strewn across the bike paths are a veritable mine field of slick danger.

Plus, there’s the drivers, the weird that comes out of the drivers in the city when it rains, I just don’t understand it, even after being here in the city for twelve years and actively riding a bicycle in the city for the last eight years, it never fails to astonish me the odd things that people do in the rain.

Pulling out in front of pedestrians, not using turn signals, suddenly and for no apparent reason backing up in the bicycle lane on the down ward slope of Oak Street as it’s about to cross Divisadero.

Without using a turn signal or flashers.

I couldn’t figure out at first if I was just going faster than I thought and coming up on the car, when, no, it’s moving and it either doesn’t see me or it doesn’t care, and I have to flash out into the traffic pulling up alongside me and I have limited vision with the hood of my rain jacket over my head.

Ugh.

It was nerve-wracking.

Slow.

Treacherous.

I had to get off my bicycle at the corner of 17th and Church Street and cross my bicycle over the MUNI tracks, I wobbled on them the last time it was wet and slippery and I had no desire to repeat the performance while skidding out into the middle of the intersection.

I had more than a few moments of fear fantasy monopolizing my brain with ankle breaking road accidents and broken arms and hips and legs.

However, despite the fear factory chugging along quite noisily on my way to work, nothing happened.

Which was good as work has been intense this week.

There’s construction happening and the entire kitchen has had to be packed up and moved out of the kitchen.

I walked into the melee yesterday with movers packing and crating and dismantling and moving.

A lot of stuff went into the downstairs bathroom and office, some into the house next door, and the kitchen there had to be set up and unpacked.

I was in charge of dismantling and putting away and moving the boys toys and books.

Up and down the stairs into the two bedrooms, plus pulling out and trashing a few things, organizing spaces, recycling a bunch of things, cleaning out the refrigerator, making food the best of my ability between the two kitchen’s until things got set up and dealing with two wild little monkeys who couldn’t get out to the park because it was too wet.

That’s a lot of intense little boy energy to deal with.

Bath time was a riot of monkey shines.

But in the end it all got done and I found myself with 45 minutes between work and my next commitment.

I went and did some grocery shopping.

I also picked up a few little gifts for the family.

Slippery When Wet.

That was the hint my sister gave me when I asked what she had gotten me for Christmas.

I was flummoxed.

What the hell was slippery when wet?

I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what the gift was.

I never in 100 years would have guessed it was the vinyl record for Bon Jovi’s Slippery When Wet album.

Never.

I had no idea who Bon Jovi was.

My sister, on the other hand, knew who the he was.

I suspect the gift may have been more for her than for I.

And that makes me laugh now.

It also gives me a sense of gratitude, for my sister, for my family, my mom, my nieces, my sweet female centric family.

I have been more in touch with them over the last few years and it is nice to have a family to think about at the holidays again, there were so many holidays when I wasn’t able to be in contact with them, it’s nice to have them back.

I love giving people presents.

It warms something in me and I especially love giving presents at Christmas time.

My mom used to call me Martha Stewart around the holidays and I suspect I was making up for the lost holidays of my childhood when I never quite got what I wanted and the tally of gifts that I did get was nowhere near the haul of loot the kids in school got or my cousins, for that matter, who were all too eager to share the tales of largess.

I still have aspects of that in myself and I am reconciled to it.

I have also balanced it out.

I know how much I can spend on others without hurting myself financially.

I am able to stand for myself and give to those I love.

I did my spending plan today during a moment of quiet when the little one was napping and the older boy was still at preschool.

I figured out how much I can spend on gifts and still take care of my needs.

I have my family and a new boyfriend to account for.

Lovely things to have.

Plus friends and family that I send Christmas cards to.

I have bought two boxes of holiday cards and a packet of seasonal stamps.

I am on it.

I even mailed my first card out today.

With the last payment on my scooter!

She’s mine free and clear.

Not that I have any desire to hop on her in this weather, but it’s nice to have that all done.

I don’t mind the rain, though, when it’s falling the world sparkles with a different kind of sheen and reminds me that beauty is everywhere, the neon red of street lights smeared on the bike path, the Christmas lights on the tree across the street from work, the reminder of the wet roads in Paris when I was there in the winter a couple of years ago now.

Things may be slippery and wet, but they are also shiny, sparkly, and new.

Look at me.

Already full of holiday cheer.


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