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Riding Fourth


I’ve voiced — blogged? — the theory before that traffic takes on a different character on different days.

That is, generally speaking, people drive differently on, say, Monday morning than Friday evening or Sunday afternoon.

Not everybody, mind you, but enough folks that different commutes have different feels to them.

Monday morning — not that I see many of those — is harried and almost belligerent. Sunday’s lazy, but some apparent churchgoers, it seems, can be kind of ruthless. Late Friday night/early Saturday morning — look out.

The same, I think, can be said for holidays.

I’ve ridden my bike to work on all the major holidays, and most of the minor ones.

I’m not sure the ticky-tack bank holidays have their own atmosphere. I don’t think, for instance, people drive any differently on Presidents Day or Flag Day or Groundhog Day. At least, I’d hope not.

But for the biggies, folks drive distinctly.

The New Year’s Eve crew, for instance, seems to have no trouble getting its swerve on, though I contend St. Patrick’s Day night drivers are the most dangerous, probably because they’ve been drinking green beer all day.

Folks out and about on Labor and Memorial days seem virtually indistinguishable in town, but look out on county roads. I’ve never been so harassed as I have been on both Labor and Memorial Day rides around Clinton and Perry lakes. One year, a shirt- and classless motorist rode alongside me for half a mile or so out by Clinton, yelling out his passenger window, veering toward me. He flicked a lit cigarette at me before bellowing, “GET OFF MY ROAD!” and leaving me in a cloud of exhaust. I noted with amusement his license plate was from out-of-county. “His” road, indeed.

Early in the day, Thanksgiving drivers tend to be thankless and sleepier as the day wears on.

Halloween drivers are a hoot. There’s nothing like rolling up to a stop light and looking in the car next to you and seeing it driven by a gorilla.

Christmahanaquanzika motorists aren’t as giving as you’d expect, but the decorations and house lights along the route tend to make up for it.

And then there’s my favorite holiday for bike riding: Independence Day.

The best part about riding on the Fourth is the best part about the day in general: pyrotechnics.

Years ago, I rounded a corner on the trafficway bike-and-hike trail and rolled right in the middle of a string of what had to have been 14 gazillion Black Cat firecrackers. They popped and pinged off my spokes; I just about had to change my stretchy pants.

I’ve had crackers and smoke bombs and even an occasional bottle rocket hurled my way, but all, I believe, were flung not to injure but to amuse. And, for the most part, they did amuse, though I’m as leery of the evil Saturn Missile Battery on two wheels as I am cowering for fear on two feet. Those things are trouble.

I especially enjoy trying to navigate through the firework haze, and the smell is unforgettable.

And then there are the likely cases of neck strain.

My head’s usually on a swivel when I ride anyway, but at firework time I’m even more of a bobblehead as I try to pinpoint the ooh and the ahh that accompanies the boom.

The only drawback is trying to navigate around the leftover pyrotechnic debris. Unpopped party snappers can provide a brief thrill, but it’s amazing how treacherous it is to try to roll over smoke bomb corpses.

Good thing ’works are illegal in city limits, or I might worry about rolling around in the holiday’s aftermath.


RoeDapple 7 years, 9 months ago

Well. I certainly hope the groundhog doesn't hear about this. Ticky-tack holiday indeed! I'll try to keep him busy so he won't see this. Groundhogs have feelings too, ya know . . .

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