Right of Way

Yesterday I rode the bike home on a cool, but clear, sunny day. Adding a front derailleur and smaller gears has taken a lot of stress off my knees as I ride the hills. I know this because I can now climb the stairs at work without grimacing. All props to Bernie at Pikesville Bikes for getting the Xootr kit to work properly.

Riding the long downhill through 25 mph residential streets on Cross-Country Boulevard towards Kelly (the intersection shown above) is exhilarating and usually uneventful. It isn’t obviously steep, but even with no pedaling gravity will pull you along faster and faster. The road is very wide with a concrete joint four to eight feet from the curb on each side. The concrete paving is smooth, then patched and bumpy, then scattered with gravel, so you don’t want to let yourself roll too fast. I ride about four feet off the curb and steer around the holes and cracks.

I passed a small car that looked ready to pull out from Sulgrave and expected it to overtake me, but I didn’t hear anything pulling up from behind. I was braking in anticipation of stopping at Kelly when I heard a car honking quite a way behind me. Turning to look when you’re braking hard is asking to vault over your handlebars, so I just ignored it, but whoever it was got right behind me and kept honking as if I was intruding on his stretch of road. Again, it is a very wide road and I was staying to the right.

I just stopped at the intersection, waited for another car to turn, ignored the honking and rode through. The honker turned right and I never bothered to look back. It was a minor irritation.

So I was amused to see the video on Gawker of a similar jerk in a big truck get his comeuppance after tailgating some woman in an SUV. SUV woman was doing fifty in the left lane of a small – and wet – two lane road, passing slower trucks in the right lane and looking to make a left turn. That didn’t suit Mr Truck Guy, who passed on the right, gave her the finger, skidded off the slick road into the median, and faces charges for leaving the scene.

Many Gawkommenters leapt to the tailgater’s defense. It seems that in the brave new libertarian America, you can’t deny anyone the freedom to go as fast as they want, whenever they want, but you can deny anyone the freedom to take their time, drive safely, be a little bit lost or maybe ride a bike to save gas and get some exercise.


3 responses to “Right of Way”

  1. Bill Chance says :

    I’m enjoying reading about your experiences with your Xootr Swift – I bought one myself a week ago. I really like it but am also struggling with the front derailleur kit. Right now, I’m simply riding on the smaller ring – it seems right for me – but I’m sure I’ll eventually want to rig the front up. What did your bike shop do to make it work?

    Like everyone, I was interested in that road rage video. What disgusted me was the comments. So many blamed the woman for driving too slow in the “fast lane.” Riding a bicycle for transportation changes the way you look at traffic.

    Nice entry, thanks for sharing.


    • Donal says :

      I suppose you could call Bernie. He did use a 40 and 50 instead of the 42 and 52, but I don’t think that was the main issue. The Xootr kit sits the Rival back farther than usual so there is less area in contact with the chain. Also the wheel is at an odd angle to the derailleur connection. He told me and I found out after a few rides that you can only shift the front while pedaling easy. Still I don’t really need the 50 for going home because it is mostly up hills with a few downhills. The 50 is better for flatter, faster rides.


      • Bill Chance says :

        Thanks for the photos – that helps. I’m not sure what I will do – I think for the time being, I’ll simply keep riding on the small ring – I’m not very fast. Looking forward, I’ll probably hook it up, and go for a wider cassette. I’m thinking of trying to do without the Xootr pulley and go under the bottom bracket for a longer, straighter pull.

        Glad you’ve been happy with your Swift for so long. Thanks for the reply – now I’ve got to go – bike ride/picnic to do.


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