Friday, March 2, 2012

The Annual Blooming of the Spring Cyclist

Welcome to Austin, TX, where spring comes in February, the winters are mild, and people act like temperatures below 50 F are signs of the oncoming apocalypse.  Our weather through February has been beautifully spring-like - hovering in the 50s and 60s, alternately sunny and rainy.  With the warming temperatures, I've noticed (as I do every year) that suddenly the bike lanes are filled with people and life.  And just like every year, I'm more than a bit conflicted about this!

Part of me rejoices that there are more people cycling, and part of me is rather jealous of what the territorial part of me thinks of as "My Park" and "My Route".  This becomes nowhere more apparent to me than at the Thursday Night Social Ride.  During the summer when I first began joining the ride, it was often as large as 300 people riding at a nice, relaxed social pace.  As the weather cooled, the ride got smaller, and smaller - at the smallest, on a night where it was 40 degrees and raining there were no more than two dozen of us pedaling through the dark.  The beer at our final stops always stretched beautifully far.

But, now that spring is upon us, the ride has swelled back to over 200 people and part of me is cranky about that!  Every time I have to ride around someone pushing their bike up a hill in the middle of the pack, having trouble starting in a crowd, not signaling, holding a line, every time someone sneaks up on me from my blind spot without announcing themselves, I get annoyed.  Yet the other part of my mind remembers when I first started doing rides and getting used to the riding habits of others and tries to convince myself to relax, lest I become the cycling equivalent of a driver getting road rage.

That being said, there's a certain charm to the annual end of hibernation - for one thing, there are some COOL bikes out on the road again!

There are also some really novel ways of securing them.

I guess despite all my internal annoyance with fair-weather cyclists, the joy of cycling isn't something I can box into categories - fair weather, foul weather, newbie, and veteran, bikes are pretty forgiving of however we'd like to use them. I could probably learn something from that.

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