Or, Murphy’s Laws of Cycling In The Boonies.
Law #1 is that if you, the cyclist, are going to meet an oncoming motor vehicle on a narrow road, there is a 75% chance that it will be in a corner. (Of these, 67% will be blind corners.) For some reason, if the motor vehicle is the one turning left, it will almost inevitably be cutting across the corner — yeah, into your lane.
This happened to Brent last week. An oncoming pickup truck nearly forced him into the ditch on the right-hand side of the road, and the driver’s side mirror came within an inch or two of hitting his head. The driver did not seem to hear the helpful driving advice Brent offered, despite its being delivered at full volume. Of course, the guy was on his cell phone so that may explain it.
Law #2 covers the 25% of motor vehicles that you will meet along straighter, non-corner stretches of road. This law dictates that at the moment you meet the vehicle, there will be an obstacle in your lane that you need to go around. For me, it’s usually roadkill or a pothole. One recent morning the oncoming vehicle was a heavy utility truck that took up almost the whole road. The obstacle was the last 18 inches of a snake that was slithering, at an ever-so-leisurely pace, off into the grass. Fortunately I saw the snake in time to slow down for it without going over the handlebars. “Move it, Slinky,” I muttered. I was not about to run over a snake. Not me.
But even Murphy could not have come up with laws to explain some of the “traffic jams” I have experienced.
Sometimes it is a work crew, blocking the road for so long that there are actually a couple of cars waiting to pass — from each direction. This sort of phenomenon would make the local newspaper, if someone phoned it in. Last time I came across this situation, which involved a tree-trimming crew, a Lexus, two pickups and an SUV, I just made a U-turn and recalculated my route.
More often I unwittingly cause the traffic jam myself, when people in a car pull up to ask me for directions, as if a middle-aged woman in neon yellow Lycra knows how to get to any place they would want to go. Reluctant to knock me over (and thus prejudice me against giving helpful directions), they just stop right in the road rather than pulling onto the shoulder. Sometimes another car will come from behind and need to go waaaaay around us and that, of course, is when a third car will approach from the opposite direction. Delicate negotiations ensue.
Sometimes it’s just bizarre. One morning toward the end of summer I was riding along, intending to turn south from one little backroad onto another. As I approached the corner another local cyclist, affectionately known as “No-Helmet Guy” for reasons I will leave you to figure out, came from the other direction and turned south just a few moments before me. He was sitting up and not riding fast at all. As I caught up and was about to pass him, I realized that he was talking on his cell phone. I wasn’t sure whether he had noticed me, and I hate to startle another rider, especially one who is riding one-handed with no helmet while engrossed in a phone conversation, but he really was just poking along. I’d better go ahead and pass, I thought, checking my little helmet mirror which looks sort of dorky but which has saved my hide too many times to count. A single headlight was approaching from the rear so I decided to wait until the motorcycle had passed. Make that two motorcycles. No, four — seven — dang, it’s like a county-wide club or something. The road was so narrow that I didn’t feel safe passing until they had all gone around us. I lost count, but I know that at least twenty Harleys rolled by. One by one. In… no… particular… hurry.
As I finally accelerated into the faint haze of Harley exhaust and looked in my mirror, I got one last glimpse of No-Helmet Guy, still sitting up and talking on his phone as if nothing unusual had happened. So much for worrying about startling him.
Maybe I’ll change his nickname to Murphy.
Thanks for reading!