Several miles outside the city limits, where quiet roads meander over manse-strewn hills and descend to wander the shore, the heat has hatched an unsightly infestation, a blight of clicking, spinning, sweating, spitting intruders that swarm about until the chill winds of November signal a return to their dormant stage. These pests are cyclical — bicyclical, actually — and they are everywhere.
From the sleek, disk-wheeled Tour de France wannabes to the safari-vested wobblers straddling saddlebagged Winnebagos, all varieties of the species spray out onto the asphalt in pairs, trios — a parade of invaders who pedal and pedal, zigging and zagging, and pedal and pedal, wheezing and sagging over aerobars as the motorized world is slowed to a cyclist’s engineless pace.
If you’ve ever driven on Long Island’s North Shore, or other bucolic parts of the tristate area, on a summer Sunday, you know the menace of which I speak. And if, rather than patiently wait for a safe opportunity to pass, you’ve smashed an indignant fist into your horn, accelerated into a belligerent swerve, or even wagged your longest finger contemptuously in the air, then I am here to complain about you. For I am your devil — the cyclist getting between you and your drive to wherever.
I just finished my morning ride, and it’s clear we need to talk. Because you’re acting as if you just flunked the anger management midterm, and that scares me. Think about it. I’m perched atop 20 pounds of carbon-fiber; you’re commandeering two tons of steel exoskeleton. You could crush me, or at least run me into a bush — as you recently did, Lexus lady rushing the light.
I understand the roots of your frustration. Once in the past you were late for a religious service, a birthday party, a brunch, and got stuck behind a crawling peloton riding 50 deep and 5 wide, impassable and seeming not to care that you had somewhere real to go. As your blood pressure spiked, it became obvious that those fruity jerseys had been donned just to mock you.
But please, let it go. I’m not them. I generally ride John Wayne style — alone. Nor am I trying to get in your way. I like the side of the road, but sometimes potholes and broken glass force me into your space. By the way, Camaro guy with the broken muffler, that soda can may have bounced off my helmet, but it still hurt on the inside.
Let’s share. I’ll try to stay out of your way, but sometimes when I’m getting in touch with my inner Lance I see nothing but yellow. If I’m slow to veer off the road for you, it may even be that I’m temporarily overwhelmed by the beauty of my surroundings. Maybe you should decelerate, too. Take a moment to soak in this lush land of ours — it’s so much brighter than the polka-dot jersey I wear as I pray you won’t accidentally flatten me.
Todd Rowley is a writer and triathlete who lives in Huntington, Long Island.
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