I witnessed both ends of the behavior spectrum the other day, and what was remarkable is that it occurred on the same bike ride.
The bad part took place first. I was cruising along the road — on the extreme right, I might add — and this dude passes me in his vehicle, but not allowing for very much space. I exclaimed, "Jeez, more room would have been appreciated," while noticing at the same time that his rear passenger-side window was down. We were both slowing because of a stop sign, so I know he heard me.
I proceeded through the intersection first, mindful that he was approaching me from behind a second time. Once again, as he roared by, his vehicle was too close for my liking. Then came a little gesture that obviously signaled his frustration. Popping out of the driver's window was an extended left arm giving me "the finger," lasting nearly a quarter mile before he disappeared around a corner. I just gave him a wave, thankful that the matter hadn't escalated; although I always like the opportunity to educate drivers on Maine's three-foot spacing law.
And now the good part. Nearly an hour later, as I was finishing up the 30-mile ride, a pickup truck pulled up alongside me. After my earlier episode with Bird Man, I'm thinking "what's going to happen this time?"
As we're rolling down the road, he lowered his passenger-side window and shouted to me, "That red light really shows up. It's fantastic. It's better than the one I have." He then gave up a thumbs-up and off he went.
I've often written about the importance of using daytime running lights, and this was one of many such encounters I have had with motorists. Research has proven that using them, as opposed to doing without, make cyclists 240 percent more noticeable and there's 33 percent fewer collisions. The fact that eight out of 10 bicycling accidents happen during daylight hours proves the need to make yourself visible, so flashing lights — both front and especially rear — are a must.
Anyway, the ride ended on a positive note, and reinforced my already strong belief in using lights, as well as helmets.
Getting ready for a Challenge
In an effort to give you a feel for what it's like to participate in a century ride, I plan on providing updates as I prepare for the Cadillac Challenge slated for October 4 in Bar Harbor.
Thanks to Alan, I've now got a brand-new rear wheel — a Bontrager Paradigm TLR — on my Trek Domane. I'm looking forward to using this all-carbon bike, as I've never gone 100 miles with it in a single ride. It should also make the nearly 7,000 feet in elevation gain a little bit easier.
To aid with comfort and proper rest, I've booked a room in an inn located near the start of the event, arriving the day before the Challenge. When I did it in 2013, I got up at 3 a.m. and then spent two-and-a-quarter hours in my vehicle to make the 7 a.m. departure time and then drove back home afterward. A very long day, indeed.
Having just surpassed 5,000 miles for this cycling season, I feel physically fit for what lies ahead. It's just the mental part that I always wonder about. You know — will I be in the right frame of mind on that particular day to tackle such a long journey? I guess we will find out pretty soon.