How do motorists view cyclists? I don’t mean if they see us or not on the road, I mean what goes through their mind when a spandex-clad, cleanly shaven dude goes whizzing past them on an expensive piece of carbon fiber?
Here’s my best guess.
Cyclists are traveling GPS units. When you’re lost, you suddenly turn to us. “Hey, where’s the baseball field?” or “Know a good pizza place?” I’ve helped confused motorists navigate to hiking trails, ice cream stands and to the far ends of the county. I should be sponsored by MapQuest and Zagat.
We ride to make you feel fat. “How far are ya riding today?” asked a pot-bellied fellow holding a loaf of Wonderbread as I stopped for water. When I responded, his mouth gaped open. He said he hadn’t exercised that much since he was 18. “I don’t know how you do it.” It’s my hope that I eventually inspire at least one person to dust off their old Schwinn and start pedaling again.
Cyclists are road hazards. You beep at us, pass dangerously close and yell out the window. You’ve even thrown a beer bottle at me and another time you got out of your car and yelled because another cyclist ran a stop sign in front of you last week. But we have as much right to the lane and follow the same rules of the road that you do. I’m sure you’d hear me much better if you put down your cell phone…
We are all named Lance. “Go Lance, go!” countless teenagers have shouted as I ascend a steep hill or whizz by on a side street. While being called Lance is much better than the alternative invectives people have hurled in my direction, it would be great if people realized that there are other fantastically talented Americans (women included) racing their bikes all over the world. At the very least yell “Armstrong!” Kristin Armstrong, that is.