Tuesday, January 10, 2006

Follow up to the psycho driver

The other day I shared our group ride encounter with the crazy lady. When the police had not tracked us down I had made the comment that they probably get calls from this woman all the time, and say "Oh God, her again." I guess I was right about that.

Unbeknowst to me one of the members of the group is a doctor, and after the second encounter with her he actually stopped to see what the problem was. The cops did actually come to where we she had stopped the second time. Paul told the cops what had happened, and the cops told her that if she sees the group out on the road again, to take a different route. The cops have had other problems with her.

Apparently she is recovering from a brain tumor, and has some episodes of craziness. Though I feel sorry for her, and wish her a speedy recovery, I have to ask a few questions.

1. Why the hell is she driving a car with that type of condition?
2. Where is her family?
3. Is she on some sort of medication, and is she taking it?

At the time of the incident we were having a some laughs, but looking back on it that was very scary. Suppose she drove her car into the group? What if she had a gun? These are not pleasant thoughts, but in this crazy world one has to think about that.

I exercise for health, and I hope to be like my father and grandmother and be active in my mid 80s. However there is no guarantee that some crazy driver won't do something stupid while I'm out riding or running. This incident just reminds me again that there are no guarantees, and that one must be careful out there.

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Impatient Driver's Psychotic Twin Sister

You may remember my post of 9/28 when I wrote a rather sarcastic "letter" to a crazy driver. This was the guy who spent all his time honking his horn at me while rushing up to wait in a line of cars at red light. This was the same guy who kept honking as I merrily made my way up the inside past the cars and made a right on red to get the hell a away from him.

Westchester County is a wealthy suburb just north of New York City, and has to be one of the most bike unfriendly places around. There are some beautiful roads, and if you make your way to Northern Westchester you can find some nice secluded spots with few cars and some very pretty scenary. Unfortunately for those of us who live and train in Southern Westchester we have to share the roads some really uptight, obnoxious drivers in their Beemers, Jaguars, Mercedes, et el jabbering on their cell phones, and always in a friggin hurry to get somewhere.

In my 20 some odd years of riding a bike in Westchester County I have encountered all sorts of impatient, angry, stupid, and otherwise obnoxious drivers. It doesn't matter whether I'm riding alone, in a small group, or a big group I thought I had seen it all, but today really took the cake in terms of absurdity.

We have this large training ride that goes out all year around every Saturday, Sunday, and legal holidays. It's been going on for over 50 years, and as I wrote in an early post it has been training ground for some outstanding Olympic and professional riders in their youth. In the summer the ride can get very big, and take up way too much much road space. It's hard to get 200 riders to stay two abreast, so we've had a fair share of encounters with the police, particularly in North Castle. The wealthy people of Armonk don't like to be slowed down by a pack of cyclists taking up a large portion of a lane on a four lane roadway, so they often get on their cell phones to complain about those damn cyclists. At times I can't blame them, especially when some knuckleheads in the group decide they want to be in both lanes

Today was not one of those 200 rider days. It was 20 degrees when I left my house this morning, so it was hardcore roadies out today. No matter what the size of the group it splits into basically 3 groups. The first group is generally the smallest and takes the shortest route. This is referred to as Otto's ride since it became a route when Otto decided in his late 60s that he had had enough of trying to deal with the crazies of the regular route. He got taken down one too many times. Otto is an amazing guy. He's in his 70s and still puts many of the youngsters to shame. Despite having a cold, he still was kicking my butt on the flats.

Otto's group had 9 riders in it today. There are a few parts of the ride where it gets a little hairy. One of the sections is after we cross over I-287, and make a sharp left turn onto Westchester Avenue which runs parallel to the highway. For a change we actually caught the green light. Coming through the light with us were two cars. One car pulled over into the left lane. The second car driven by the psycho bitch from hell was in right lane right smack in the middle of our group. 5 of us were in front, and the other 4 behind her. She starts honking her horn and rolls down her window and starts yelling at us. Finally she pulls out into the left lane and passes the group.

This stretch of Westchester Avenue can be very dangerous. The road is not in good condition, it's a fast downhill, and because the road forks at the bottom of the hill cars are often changing lanes quickly to make sure they're heading off in the right direction. The spped limit is 40, and I've actually hit the speed limit a few times going down that hill. Psycho bitch has stopped at the bottom of the hill right at the fork, has gotten out of her car, is standing in the middle of the lane, waving her hands, and yelling "Stop, stop! I'm calling the police!" None of us quite understand what her problem is, and we just go past her. Who the hell wants to engage in a discussion with anyone who has chosen by her actions to put herself and a group of cyclists in danger by standing in the middle of a busy service road?

She jumps back into her car, comes flying past us, and yells out the window. "The cops are coming!" At this point we're all just shaking our heads, and saying this lady needs to get some exercise and a life. Yes she was moderately overweight. Not obese, but probably on the high end the BMI index for height. We proceed on our way, getting to another point on the route that can be hairy. The road is downhill, and goes from really nicely paved to rough, and grooves in the middle of the lane. It's followed by a hard left turn. We get to the bottom of this hill, and there she is again, standing in the middle of the road on the double yellow line, waving her arms around, and demanding that we stop. It looked like she was ready to jump in front of us. Once again the dire pronouncement that the cops were coming.

We continued on our way, and the cops never even came to chase us down. I almost get the feeling that the cops got the call, said "Oh it's her again!", and chose to ignore it. Though some of the riders from the second group said there were two cop cars at that spot when they went through, but nothing appeared to be happening.

We had a good chuckle over the incident. One of my teammates said. "We thought it was so funny, and she probably totally stressed out about it, and have ruined her day." One of the guys in the group said, "Ive never seen s woman with such a bad case of road rage." I guess it was agood thing she wasn't carrying a gun.

I just don't understand what we did that got her in such a tizzy. Okay we did not keep a neat single file line when we made the sharp left turn onto Westchester Avenue, so we ended out getting broken up into two smaller groups, and she got stuck in the middle of the group. It was hard to figure out what she wanted to do, but if she had not freaked out, and simply moved left when the other car passed she would have been free and clear of us, and we would have been a small blip in her rearview mirror. She would have gotten to where she needed to get to, and we could have finished our ride in peace, and not worry about somebody doing stupid and dangerous things in order to make a point.

Monday, January 02, 2006

Happy New Year!!!!

It's been a long time since I last posted. My competitive season ended in October at the ITU Age Group World Championships in Honolulu. I kept trying to make blog entries, but my body never quite figured out what time it was, and by the evening I didn't have the energy to write. Who in their right mind wants to sit indoors at the computer writing blogs when in Hawaii? The wireless link didn't make it down to the beach. Not to mention the sand would have been brutal on my keyboard. It's bad enough when I get crumbs in there.

The sunsets were fantastic! I took a picture almost every night I was there.

The rainbows were awesome also. During the swim I had a rainbow to view! I felt like God was telling me He was there with me. If a rainbow was good enough for Noah, it's good enough for me.

A race like the World Championships reminds me of the fact that I'm a big fish in a little pond. I win or place high in my age group in the Northeast, but in a race like this I'm swimming with bigger fish in the ocean. Look out for sharks!!! I finished right smack in the middle of my age group. However I held my own on the bike posting the 9th fastest split in the age group. I even biked faster then the gold and bronze medalists. Too bad they can swim and run a lot better then me.

However I had one simple goal down there which I accomplished. I wanted to finish Top 16 amongst USA women in my age group so that I would officially be recognized as Team USA. I finished 14th. A lot of those women passed me on the run. :-)

This has to be one of my favorite race photos. It's great having the skyline showing in the background. It reminds me of what a beautiful venue for a race. Also it's one of the few swim exit photos where I'm not wrestling with a wetsuit, and I'm not making horrible faces. I think I'm actually smiling. I think it was because I had managed to stay off the coral, and I was heading out to do damage on the bike. Despite some annoying headwinds that cropped up for those of us who had the misfortune in being in the late morning waves, I held my own. I could have used a few more hills though. I did a lot of pssing on the hills, but needed a few more to make it good.
It was too bad I had to run after the bike ride. The heat was pretty brutal. Does this look like someone who enjoyed the run? Heatwise this was very similar to to what I had encountered in USTS Baltimore in 1988. The only difference is I've gotten wiser about pre-hydrating, and staying away from a lot of beer and wine. I wasn't one of the poor Kiwis or Aussies that were coming from early spring chill, and had a lot of trouble with the heat. The medical tent was not part of my post-race itinerary.

Sigh I'd like to be in Honolulu right now. Winter sucks!!

But today was good. I got out on my bike and rode 50 miles. It's a new year, and time for me to shed the weight I've gained since October. It's also time to move on and figure out what I want to do with my life. 2006 will be start of a new journey for me. I don't know where I'm headed, but it's going to happen.