Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Lessons from a bike

I'm biking to and from my summer college classes this year. At nearly 17 miles round-trip, this means there is a lot of time to think and, as I'm one of those annoying people who can find Significant Lessons in even the most basic of tasks, it is inevitable that I will think of some on my bike this summer. Consider yourself warned.

Here's the first one.

There are literally hundreds of miles of bike paths in Colorado. There are also, apparently, thousands of Serious Bikers in the state, too. To be a Serious Biker, you have to either own a bike that cost more than $500 or be willing to strut out in public in one of those fluorescent, leave-nothing-to-the-imagination biking outfits. (Don't pretend you don't know what I'm talking about.) At any time of day and in any kind of weather, if you're on a bike path, you can be sure to see solo Serious Bikers and packs of Serious Bikers. By my highly-scientific calculations, about 91.7% of the riders on bike paths are, in fact, Serious Bikers.

So here's the thing...when I'm scraping along (literally) on my $50 big-box-store bike (hey, if you were carrying a backpack whose weight amounts to 15% of your body weight, you'd be slow, too...don't judge), I'm kind of like a steeplechase hazard. Not really appreciated, but there nonetheless, and you have to get by me somehow. Just for the record, Serious Bikers, people like me exist, and we're not going away any time soon (at least not so long as biking is cheaper than filling a car with gold...er...gasoline).

So here's the good part...for the most part, the Serious Bikers are really nice to slowpokes like me. I have never been run off the road and here's the best part - when one of them is coming up behind you, they always give you a little call out, "On your left!" so you know not to make any sudden moves to the left, and everyone avoids a collision. They could yell, "Out of the way!" or perhaps the more polite but less descriptive, "Excuse me!" Or, of course, there's the military favorite, "Make a hole!" But no. In three little words, they let you know they're there, that they're about to pass you, and what side they're coming from.

And that's how it should be in life. (See, I told you I was all about the over-analysis and hyper-spiritualization.) Communicate. Be polite, but be clear and direct. Do not use ten words when three will do. And never run somebody off the road because you were silent when there should have been speech.