Speak up!

Its been a a while since I have posted to the blog and I need to complete my posting on supplementation. I will! As we all know life get in the way. I have been very busy with my bike racing team as we have already started worrying on next year’s team plans. I am also working on a new business venture that I hope will benefit many cyclists and I am still trying to get my legs back after a long illness this summer.

So I decided it was time to get out and participate in a group ride. Several of my teammates and I decided to ride out to the Ford Iron Man bike course Sunday and cheer on some friends and watch some spectacular athletes in action!

The cycling/Triathlon community is still reeling from a recent death of a cyclist in a Triathlon held in my home town of Louisville Kentucky. This athlete was hit by Drunk Driver from behind and killed. The community has come out in  great support of the family of the fallen Triathlete.

As my daughter of 9 years old gets closer to racing as a sanctioned Junior I am concerned for her safety as she picks up on her father and mothers love of cycling and fitness. We do not live in Louisville any longer and my daughter only knows rural roads, bike friendly neighbors as well as a community that supports cyclists. She has not had to deal with distracted drivers, irate municipal workers and the rough and tumble life of riding a bike in a city.

Fast forward Ford Iron Man Bike Leg of the Race. My teammates and I arrived to see a very active course with several athletes giving it there all on all manner of bikes. We parked our bikes at a 4 way intersection and began to cheer on the racers while the local Law Enforcement managed the traffic at the intersection. Moments later an irate motorist is at the intersection and begins to whine and then yell “It’s my turn to go, I have been waiting for 5 minutes!”

Did I hear this person? “I have been waiting for 5 minutes” and they are upset? Then the same motorist made like they were going to drive through the intersection anyway. I was blown away and I just acted. I told the driver that they needed to wait and listen to the officer directing traffic. The driver, an adult, then got mad at me and decided I needed to know that she has been waiting for 5 minutes to get across. I then explained to this driver that the safety of these athletes was what mattered right now.

The driver got the turn to go and sped away indignant with the whole situation. The point in this is that I will on occasion confront a motorist no mater how big or small when it comes to my safety or the safety of others. When I was younger I was taught by other older and wiser cyclist than me to “Speak Up” and be heard. “You do what it takes to be noticed and heard when you are on the bike!”

As an adult now I am not proud of some of the things I did or said to get a motorists attention when  out riding on busy streets. I am here today so I must have done something right. The point is we have to protect ourselves form those who do not care!

4 Comments on “Speak up!”

  1. Way to go. Way to protect those athletes and teach that driver some patience. 5 minutes is not that long. I’m sure she’s waiting much longer at lights or at constructions zones. Thank you for speaking up.

  2. Thanks Jennifer, that post is a few years old but since then I have to do this on more than one occasion I am afraid. I like to think that motorists are starting to understand that we are not mere obstacles to their busy schedules but are people.

  3. As a cyclist, agreed. Motorists need to take precautions and courtesy towards cyclists and share the road. But it works both ways. I have witnessed cyclists doing not so smart moves while in traffic. Thankfully my Hometown of Hood River is very bike friendly, but when I ride in Portland it gets tricky. It’s about mutual respect, which at times, seems to be missing from a lot of drivers. Best advice is ride defensively, your bike against their car … your gunna lose & its gunna hurt.

  4. Hi Lisa, thanks for the comment. I agree that it goes both ways when it comes to cyclists and motorists. In the context of the rant I was not referring to an everyday occurrence of rider vs car however. This was an organized national world qualifying event with police. Their was a motorist who was clearly in the wrong and was about to drive right through a group of 50+ triathletes police be damned. It was a very scary moment for me and I acted out of good faith to help the officer calm a motorist down who was not being rational. The community where this happened has a history of poor behavior towards all manner of cyclists and even has tried have petitions signed to ban cycling, facebook I hate cyclists pages and even mail lists on the subject. How did it get this bad in this community? I have my guesses as I lived in the community for a couple of years but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was combination of cyclists not obeying traffic laws and overly indulged motorists. You are absolutely correct that when it’s car vs cyclist the car is going to win.

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