Commuter’s Corner #6: Bicycling Bandits
Today we welcome back guest blogger Stephen Perz. Stephen Perz is a League of American Bicyclists League Cycling Instructor (#864) and the Education Director for the Gainesville Cycling Club. He has commuted to work, rain or shine, hot or cold, for almost 25 years. The following “Commuter’s Corner” is featured on the Gainesville Cycling Club’s website.
Ah, winter, the best time to get out and ride! Right? Every time winter comes around, my body slumps at the thought of putting those extra layers on and going out in that blustery wind. BLECH.
The reason for this stems from a bad experience, years ago, on a ride I took just as a big cold front was arriving. The temperature dropped during the ride, I was underdressed, the wind kicked up, and the front brought in all manner of pollen and whatever. I ended up sick with a bad cough bordering on bronchitis for seemingly the rest of the winter that year. BLECH.
This year, for Christmas, my father-in-law gave me a Tour of Britain cycling scarf, basically a ring of lightweight technical cycling cloth for my neck and head. It has duly come time to get back to work, and right on schedule, a big cold front has (of course) arrived in Florida. With the usual trepidation about bronchitis, I tried out the scarf.
The ride in began by going right into the teeth of the north wind, and HO. LY. COW. The scarf worked, SO WELL. After nearly an hour in the cold, I arrived at work, with no chest pain, no sneezing, and virtually no coughing. I was absolutely giddy, and was already looking forward to the ride home, which ended with a long haul into the same north wind. The scarf again performed admirably, so I added distance beyond the planned ride. Woo-HOO! This is what you do when you’re having fun, right?
The front passed, complete with rain, wind and cold. It was gross outside. But I found further excuses to go run errands, now armed with my SECRET WEAPON: THE SCARF. Happily pedaling down the street, I began looking at the drivers in the cars next to me. They all looked like forlorn souls. Probably on short trips to the store, their vehicle engines not yet warm. I waved. They looked at me like I was some sort of psychotic on the loose, or a bandit. I did have my scarf on, covering my face. They couldn’t see my smile.
First, to the grocery store for soup. People look at me with “that” look again, like they have questions but are afraid to ask them, so I provide the answers: “See this? This scarf? BEST. PRESENT. EVAH.” The employees exchange knowing looks and nod while the kids in carts all smile and their parents forlornly look on. Probably regretting their choice of vehicle and lack of scarves.
Back into the headwind, out into the left turn lane, BLORF the light just turned yellow, I AM NOT GOING TO SIT HERE IN THE COLD WAITING FOR THE LIGHT TO TURN SO FLOOR IT. And the crazy bandit on the bike zooms through the intersection and into the pharmacy parking lot. Meds for the rest of the family! You know, the ones who aren’t out here biking with their bandit scarves!
Last stop: the bank. More double-takes when the crazy guy walks in. By now I’m sweating under my layers, and the scarf is wet from the condensation. I share my feelings with the security cameras: “It’s too hot in here!” I have my scarf off my face this time so security can see I’m smiling. On my way out, more sweat runs down my face and I have to wipe it off. I bid the cameras adieu, “Y’all stay warm now, y’hear?”
Back on the bike, by now the headwind is the merest nuisance and my body feels like I’ve burned off a good two dozen homemade Christmas cookies and half of the big Christmas meal on this outing alone. Those forlorn cold people in their cars have no idea what fun they are missing. I keep waving.
Trust me on this one! CYCLING SCARVES ARE THE ANSWER! Get out and ride! BE A CYCLING BANDIT! Wave at the poor forlorn frozen motorists! Maybe a few will figure it out and join us! You’ll be glad you rode, especially if you like Christmas cookies too!
Do you have a bicycle story to tell? Photos to share? Be our guest and be our next guest blogger! Send your story and photos to Becky@floridabicycle.org.
Speaking of stories, our quarterly Messenger newsletter is available online for your internet reading pleasure. Visit the FBA website Home page or click here. Want a hard copy of our Messenger? Join Florida Bicycle Association or visit one of our bicycle shop members!
Complete Streets Savvy, or CSS, is a general bicycle educational presentation. The purpose is to provide basic information with regards to the Florida Department of Transportation’s adoption of Complete Streets policy and how cyclists and motorists can share the road safely. This presentation runs 10 – 15 minutes and is designed for legislators, county and city elected officials, civic organizations and other entities that meet regularly and need informative content. There is no fee. Visit the FBA Presentations page to see our complete line of signature presentations.
Have you heard? We have Move Over for People bill sponsors!! Thank you Senator Baxley, District 12, for filing SB 116 and House Representative Stone, District 22, for filing HB 117. Would you like to work the process with us to see these bills become a law? Visit our Legislative Platform page to learn more about our advocacy initiatives and to sign up for our 2018 Florida legislative session email updates.
Bike Florida and Florida Bicycle Association share a common cause in bicycle education and promotion for residents and visitors to the Sunshine State. Share the Road license plate proceeds benefit Bike Florida and Florida Bicycle Association to further these efforts. What’s on your motor vehicle? Get the Share the Road license plate!