Sunday, June 22, 2008

I WANT TO RIDE MY BICYCLE - Tales of Toronto

After leaving my bicycle outside this past winter, I was not the least bit surprised to find that it had fallen apart when I tried to ride it this spring. This led me into a long, unsuccessful search for a bike that was nice, not a target for bike thieves and in my price range. Johnada is a little picky, and a lot cheap. This is not a good combination for shopping for bikes. Eventually, my mom offered me her old road bike from the 1980s. After dismissing this several times, I finally gave in and brought it back with me after our last trip to the U.S. I have not been the least bit disappointed. I love this bike:
Notice the Canadian flag bell.

Anyway, I've been riding in Toronto for about a month now, and I must admit that I enjoy it quite a bit. I've had no major problems, except for with a few unruly drivers and with other bikers that don't know you're supposed to go around cars turning right. Anyway my biking honeymoon came to an end last Friday. It was a pretty normal ride into work until I crossed the "beautiful" Don Mills River, than everything went wonky.

I passed a guy in the bike lane on his left, and there was a truck about 500 feet behind us that was slowly accelerating out of the light. I had more than enough time. So then the truck catches up to me and starts honking at me. I give him a wave, but he keeps going at the same speed as me and honking. I'm thinking to myself that wasn't even close, why is he making such a big deal out of this. Then I look over at him, and he has a big smile and on his face and is holding my metal water bottle. I immediately smiled at him and said thanks. I told him he could just chuck it out of the window, but with bikers coming this didn't work, so he slows down and hands it to me. I think to myself, I'm glad I wasn't a total prick when he started honking. For the next three blocks I'm riding along, smiling to myself - thinking the world ain't all that bad. There really are nice people. I have no idea how the guy in that truck ended up with the water bottle. Where did I lose it? Did he get out and pick it up? Did another courteous biker hand it to him?

But this would only last so long. At the third or fourth light, I catch up to a guy all decked out in spandex with yellow vests - your stereotypical middle-aged Canadian biker.

He turns to me and says,
"You know why that truck honked at you? Because you almost died. You didn't signal when you passed me and you came within inches of your life."

So I say, "Come on man, it wasn't close. I did not jump out in front of the truck. He was way back there."

But the dude is unrelenting, "So then why did he honk and pull you over to the side of the road?"

"Because I dropped my water bottle back there, and he was kind enough to get it for me."

"Don't lie. You really don't understand the rules of bike riding. I've been biking for 40 years
blah, blah"

"I'm not lying. That's why he stoppped."

"Well he was a very good person for not hitting you."

"Wow, that's not a very nice thing to say."

He kept badgering me like this all the way down Bloor Street. Apparently, what seemed to bother him the most was that I didn't ring my bell when I passed other bikers. I'm sorry, I'm not going to signal when I go around other bikers in the bike lane. Those bells can be annoying, and I think people ignore them if you use them too much. I stop at every light, and I am very courteous to other bikers and cars. But he just kept pestering me, and I kept trying to ignore him/saying words that I shouldn't have.

After this went on all the way through the busiest part of Toronto traffic, He finally had to turn left at Bloor and University, so he was over in the left turn lane. After pestering me for five blocks about all the rules of biking, HE JUMPS THE LIGHT AND TURNS LEFT BEFORE ONCOMING TRAFFIC EVEN THOUGH THERE IS NO TURN SIGNAL!! You can only imagine my reaction. I yelled as loud as I could at him for being a hypocrite, but I was so shocked I don't think it came out too well. I think my voice cracked like I was going through puberty, though I'm sure he got the gist of what I was saying.


Update: After writing this post yesterday, I got hit by a car. I'd say it was some sort of karma for writing about biking, but it was not my fault. The person driving suddenly decided to park on the right side of the street without signalling.


Aiglee said...

First things first, HOW ARE YOU?? :S That was an awesome story but then you come and read that update, it's scary!

Johnada said...

Oh yeah, I should have mentioned that. I'm fine, except my shoulder is really sore. I thought the bike was in bad shape, but when I took it all I needed was a new wheel. I got lucky.

Johnada said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gary said...

You Americans and your blatant disregard for the opinions of middle-aged Canadian bikers. ;-)

Zhu said...

I was NOT in Toronto so it's not me. Just wanted to say it. :D

Hope you're okay...

I used to like biking but I don't do it much in Ottawa. I live between the farm (nice), a road (not nice) and a road (not nice).

And I'm blind on my left side.

Johnada said...

Gary - I disregard opinions of all middle-aged Canadian bikers, even me in about five years or whenever middle age technically begins.

Zhu - I wasn't suspicious at first, but now I'm beginning to wonder?

Seraphine said...

Gaa, you got hit by a car! That's terrible. At least you lived to tell about it.

Regarding the spandex biker, some bikers are just assh*les. It's probably the same percentage as assh*le drivers.
I think the ones who don't signal are the same ones who tip cheaply at starbucks and think they can skip foreplay when having sex. They are self-centered, selfish jerks.

I bet the driver that hit you wasn't wearing a condom. Am I right??? You betcha.

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