Fri, 28 May 2004

What the heck is a Tyrolean Traverse?

My youngest brother, Brent, is a climbing Ranger for the National Park Service stationed at the North rim of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison. One of the projects he worked on recently, upgrading the Chasm Tyrolean, was written up at climbing.com.

What the heck is a Tyrolean, you ask? So did I. And I'm still not sure I understand. <g>

Way to go, Brent!

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Mon, 10 May 2004

Hey, Lady, how about a little help here

Yesterday, Jenny and I rode from the house to the Idaho/Washington state line and back. At the I-90 rest stop, our turn around point, there was a pigeon sitting in the drinking fountain waiting to coerce some human into turning on the water so it could have a drink and a quick shower. Jenny obliged.

One of the pleasures of cycling is getting close to a lot of the wild life that otherwise goes unnoticed. This encounter doesn’t exactly fall into that category, though. Not too many wild critters are this comfortable around people. I’m not sure this bird qualifies as wildlife.

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Tue, 04 May 2004

Pepper sprayed!

To the son of a bitch that unloaded a can of pepper spray in my face,

You’ve committed a felony. I’ve filed a report—case number 04-142710 with the Spokane County Sheriff’s Department. You probably regularly travel the same route at about the same time of day and there’s a good chance I’ll find you, identify you, and see you face charges in court.

It’s not your road. A bicycle is a legal, street worthy vehicle. On my bike, I have the same rights and responsibilities as a motorist, and I follow the same rules. There’s no sign on the road that says, “No Bicycles.” Unfortunately, there’s no sign that says, “No Assholes,” either, so I have to share the road with dangerous felons like you.

That is, until you’re caught, have your driving privileges revoked, and spend some time in county lockup.

So, you detest bicycles on the road so much you’re willing to use force to remove them, huh? Would you have shot me dead if you’d had a gun? Would you have run me over if you weren’t afraid of scratching your paint job?

Pricks like you eventually run into a situation that puts them on the losing side. Whether I find you and have my day in court or not, somewhere, sometime, you’ll end up on the receiving end of your stupidity and cowardice. Good luck when it’s your turn at bat.

I had just left the office to meet Jenny on the Centennial Trail. The traffic was unusually light on Pines for rush hour. Not a car in sight in the south bound lanes between Broadway and Mission. And only a single car northbound. When it passed, I made a left and quickly up to speed—25 MPH with a nice tailwind.

About a block down the road, a car honked, passed, and turned in short intimidatingly. The jerk, I thought, he had the entire left lane open but couldn’t be bothered to change lanes for a bike. We’ll end up sitting at the same stop light together, anyway. Which we did.

He pulled to the extreme left side of the right lane when he stopped at the light at Mission—an obvious invitation to pull along side.

Here we go, I thought. Another “get on the sidewalk where you belong” speech. I’ve had dozens of them spewed at me over the years. When I pull alongside, he rolls down his window half way and starts hurling a string of obscenities at me. I return a few of my own. Then he shouts again to get my attention. When I look at him, I see a stream of pepper spray much too late to avoid it.

My sunglasses spared me a direct blast in the eyes, but my face and forearms were covered. The driver stepped on the gas and made a tire squealing right turn onto Mission. I turned to see a woman driving a Subaru behind me. I shouted, “Get that guy’s plate number,” and motioned for her to follow. She was probably confused and didn’t understand what had happened or what I said. She did turn right, but several cars from the oncoming left turn lane had turned between my attacker and her. As far as I know, she never got his plate number.

It’s hard to recall details. I think the guy was in his thirties. He had an olive complexion, perhaps of middle eastern heritage. And I think he was well dressed. The most surprising thing was he had a car seat in the back and I’m almost certain there was a child in it. What would this guy do if he splashed pepper spray on the kid? Was it worth that?

I’ve been yelled at, spit on, had things thrown at me, had car doors thrown open in front of me and brakes slammed on. I’ve been run off the road and I’ve been run over. Now I can add a new one to the list: I’ve been pepper sprayed.

99.9% of the drivers out there are friendly and courteous. It’s that one in a thousand that just wrecks your day. This guy cost me some real discomfort, a pair of contacts, an emergency room visit that will probably take $200 out of my pocket. But he isn’t going to scare me off the road. I have a right to ride the roads and I’m going to exercise it. Someday, one of these assholes is going to pull this crap in full view of a police officer and get hauled in. Or I’m going to find a way to drag one of them out of his car and have him ready him waiting for the authorities. Or, heaven forbid, I’ll finally meet one who doesn’t mind scratching his vehicle up and takes me off the road permanently. But dammit! I’m not going willingly.

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Sun, 02 May 2004

Jenny runs Bloomsday

Jenny ran Bloomsday again this year. My good friend, Tim Maher, and I rode our bikes from the Spokane Valley across town to the top of Doomsday Hill to watch for her.

She topped the hill all smiles, looking great. She’d been suffering from a strained tendon below her right knee. The doctor told her she better not run Bloomsday this year. Jenny thinks doctors should provide remedies, not advice, so she didn’t take any.

I snapped a few photos: Jenny coming, Jenny going, and Tim watching.

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