Thursday, February 4, 2010

negotiating traffic

My beloved spruit was still a swamp on the daily commute this morning. The standing water on the singletrack at the top of Delta Park was about a quarter wheel deep. And if you venture off the path to prevent smelly water from splashing up on your backpack, the swampy grass sucks the wheels in yet a little bit deeper. I drag the bike over carpets to park it next to my desk at the office, so I can't arrive at the office looking and smelling like after last weekend's muddy cross-country provincials ... so have to negotiate the mud and water ever so slowly.

It was no fun - can't go fast on the downhills, can't climb fast(ish) over obstacles 'cos there's sticky mud everywhere, and probably damaging the bike and the environment by making tracks next to the path when the path just gets too unridable.

So I thought I'll ride home on tar.

It was scary.

On the pavement around the office block and on to the Jan Smuts traffic light. Wait for the light to turn red, then pick up the bike and walk through the cars who filled the road so that no-one else can get through.

At a 4 way stop street I want to turn right. It just never seems to be my turn. Totally invisible, i wait for all traffic to clear.

No pavement, so I share the tar with cars trying to see how close to me they can drive. scary. note to self: go look on a map if there isn't something parallel to this road.

A traffic circle. How on earth would I ever get over this one? Cars turning left just not seeing me wanting to go straight over. It's never a bicycle's turn. Eventually i take a chance - scary, this could easily have landed me in hospital. Not worth it. note to self: go find something on a map thats even remotely parallel to this road.

Cool, a pavement! Hop onto it and pass all the cars that are stuck in traffic. Yaay!

Pavement ends, but cars are stationery. Big fun over the speed-bumps. The hardtail is much better at this than the trance :) Wow this was worth it.

k, so now into Jan Smuts again, and immediately exit left into Conrad. A pavement, so this is safe and easy.

Now up that 2 km hill in Conrad. Dodging cars coming in and out of parking lots. I'm totally invisible.

A pavement, but it's littered with building rubble with no space to ride there. Get onto the tar again, sharing road with cars who don't see me.

A traffic light is green, but cars coming from behind don't see me, so they turn left and I stop until light turns red, then move over to the middle of the lane, and wait there while trying to recover some oxygen and get the heart rate down to a readable level.

Aaaah finally, some pavements! I survived! Next traffic light is green. The driver of the car sees me and waits for me to cross before she turns left. I manage a wave and a thank-you grin while struggling for oxygen. My, this joberg doesn't have enough oxygen.

On top of the hill, on top of the world. Another green light, another driver who notices me and allows me to cross over before he turns right from the other side.

Pavements, and then back onto my backroads again safe!

some notes:
- Conrad would have made excellent hill-training, if it wasn't for all the car dodging in the bottom half. It's possibly better hill-training with all the car-dodging, having to multitask, in stead of just concentrating on getting to the top of the mountain.
- Cars do not realise that you're traffic too
- In a collision between a bike and a car, the bike will always loose.
- Some drivers do realise that bicycles are traffic too :)
- It's easier to get off and walk over traffic lights and traffic circles, than to wait for another driver to give you a gap
- speed bumps are big fun, especially when the cars are stationery (and thereford not able to cut you off)
- take the hardtail, there is some fun to be had on tar :)

Tar wasn't all that bad - but here's to hoping the spruit will be ridable someday soon.

was i ever a roadie? and how did i ever survive being this invisible?
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