Biker dude, move it over

July 15, 1999|By Kevin Cowherd

To the cyclist who apparently lost his mind and was seen riding on busy York Road in Timonium a couple of Saturdays ago at about 1 in the afternoon:

Hi, there. You may not remember me, but I was driving a green Ford Taurus station wagon, which tends to give me the same sexy look as an aging seminarian returning from bingo duty.

Anyway, it was about 117 degrees in the shade, but you were in full Tour de France get-up: Spandex unitard, heavy-duty cycling shoes, dark racing gloves, dorky banana-shaped helmet, the whole 9 yards.

You even had the little rear-view mirror snaking down in front of your face.

Man, you looked sharp!

You were Greg LeMond, dude!

And I thought: Y'know, when they lay this guy in the casket -- which should be about, oh, five minutes from now -- he is really going to cut a fine figure.

(Although -- and this is a personal issue -- if I were the funeral director, I would make sure to remove the little mirror before the viewing.)

Now why was I thinking such morbid thoughts on a sizzling summer afternoon?

I'll tell you why: because you were determined to ride well out on the road, and traffic was whizzing past and missing you by inches, pal.

All I could think of was this: At any moment, a car was going to nail you and you were going to go flying, and when your body finally returned to earth, it was going to land somewhere in the vicinity of Youngstown, Ohio. Or maybe it wouldn't return to earth at all.

Maybe a car would smack you so hard that you'd actually go rocketing out of the atmosphere and into orbit and begin circling along with the Voyager II and the space shuttle and various COMSAT satellites and other space junk.

It's hard to imagine what possesses a man to ride his bike on a busy road when there are so many less-traveled byways one could cycle on without, well, dying.

But maybe you're one of these cyclists who lifts his ultra-lean body, with its impressive 2-percent body fat, onto his $2,000 racing bike each day and grits his teeth and snarls: "I have as much right to the road as anyone!"

This may be true in theory, dude.

But it's not true in reality, especially when a Ford Taurus driven by a man who looks like an aging seminarian is bearing down on you, and the peculiar zig-zag patterns of four Firestone radials are about to be scorched across your chest.

It comes down to the Laws of Physics, doesn't it?

Let's go over it again: You are riding a sleek racing bike made of some space-age alloy which, together with your underfed (a personal opinion, yes) 130-pound frame, would tip the scales at a total weight of, what, 160 pounds?

Meanwhile, rumbling all around you are Chevy Suburbans and Ford Expeditions and various delivery vans, which weigh well over a ton, as well as the Ford Tauruses and Honda Civics of the world, which weigh less than those other vehicles but can still land you in the graveyard.

Anyway, dude, we (my wife was in the car with me) noticed you on York Road from a half-mile away.

And the reason we noticed you was that all the cars in front of us were hitting their brakes and swerving to avoid you, and apparently some motorists didn't like this, because they were screaming at you as they passed and calling you some very bad names.

Oh, they were horrible names!

I almost felt sorry for you, except when I saw the way you were riding your bike, I wanted to kill you myself.

You were sweating like a mule, because that black Spandex probably has the same breezy feel as a hair-shirt, and you kept screaming something back at the motorists, which, I'm guessing, was not "Have a nice day!"

It was quite the scene, dude.

In any event, when we finally managed to swerve past you, I did not scream anything, I want you to know that.

I glared at you, but I kept my mouth shut.

Because when you look like an aging seminarian behind the wheel, you may as well act like an aging seminarian behind the wheel, too.

But as I glanced in my rear-view mirror one last time and watched all the cars braking and honking at you and you angrily waving your skinny arms -- the Krispy Kreme doughnut place was right up the road, too -- I was left with only one question:

Dude, what were you thinking?

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