Saturday, May 12, 2007

I Can Do What I Ly-cra!


It's been a long time, I know, and the gaps between my posts seem to be getting longer. I've been even more distracted by Son's final exams and I find the more energy I expend elsewhere the less inspiration I have for this. Still...let's get started.

Interesting, isn't it, the impact of other people's choices on our lives. Take this cyclist, one of an ever growing army of lycra-clad, leisure cyclists who are taking to the roads here. It's an innocent enough pastime keeping fit, enjoying the view with, at the end, the exhilaration of a goal achieved and good luck to them, I say. Except that this guy's choice is about to have an impact on my blood pressure.
He's riding well enough, I grant you, nicely positioned but we're going ever sooooo slowly up a long, steep climb that winds up a road frequently used by big trucks heavily laden with stone from the quarries so, no, I'm not going to overtake. With a sign I slide the car into first gear and follow him ever sooooo slowly. The truck behind me isn't laden but even so is having difficulties and his metal grille fills my back window. He'd like me to overtake...
Somewhere behind him a queue is forming while the cyclist, legs pumping, lost in a different world remains oblivious to the frustration and the exhaust fumes( maybe not so good for the health, then.) As the horns start blaring a lesser man might have slid gracefully to the side and let his convoy go past but our hero is made of sterner stuff and perhaps gets a kick out of all this negative energy so he slogs onward and upward.
And then the guy behind the lorry, the one who's tired of living decides to go for it. I swear, my passenger swears more and I don't like to think what the cyclist did but it was a dramatic moment as, truthfully, anything could have come round that bend at speed, hill, remember, and there really was no room for error.
I'd like to say that the driver had the fright of his life but of course he didn't..he swept by and disappeared into the dust, the road straightened up and widened a little allowing us to file past while the cyclist struggled on.
I believe quite strongly that he was having such trouble getting up the hill he should have let us past: even slow drivers will pull over. French friends disagree citing all sorts of stuff about rights and liberty. So where do the cyclist's rights stop and mine start? I was, after all, the one the overtaker would have pulled into should there have been an approaching car?
Would you have pulled over?
Would you have overtaken?

17 comments:

Poppy Fields said...

I think bikers have the right to pedal, but they should move far enough over to the right to let cars pass. It irks me most when there are two bikers side by side filling up the while lane, leaving no room for passing as they casually chat. I think they do that on purpose. I ride my bike a lot, I always stay as far to the right as possible, but I don't stop pedaling just to let a car go by, especially when I am going up hill, it would be hard to get the momentum going again. But cars should have room to go by me, no problem.

angela said...

This was the road from Chateauneuf to Gourdon, Meredith. You may know it.
I've just come from visiting you. Our cyber paths must have crossed..
Angela

Shaz said...

The bike should of pulled over give me a break!! I would have been really annoyed but would not have put my life at risk like you due to inpatience. Some people just dont think and have no manners.
I have heard this of the French and of bike riders not in that order. Drive carefully and let the fools go on their way. Nice to see a post honey. xxx

Jane Poe (aka Deborah) said...

I would have been inclined to take the same approach you did -- however, Shaz is absolutely right - that bicyclist SHOULD have pulled over ... he endangered himself and others. Bike trails are an excellent solution and we're seeing more of them in this part of the States. Glad you got through this safely. Much love, JP

Gigi said...

I drive up a lot of mountains these days. Once upon a time I would have been intimidated by the lorry behind me and I would have pulled over into a lay-by and waited for a bit (yes, really). These days, as I drive with growing confidence, I probably would have overtaken...but only if I knew the road well.

A few years ago, my husband and I were driving up a narrow mountain pass during an Italian/French cycle race. We had a few hairy moments, I must say...

GMG said...

Hi Angela, thanks for your visit and comments on Blogtrotter.
The sign shows 70 km/h; if the cyclist does not pull off, I think I would try to get rid of his vision as soon as possible...

sarala said...

The biker needs to obey the rules of the road too. If he is on a road then the speed limits, upper and lower apply to him too. I love biking but resent when bikers take the road but don't obey stop signs and so forth. I was taught that if you don't want to obey the laws stay off the road.

tut-tut said...

If I were the biker, I would have pulled over. If I were you, I think I would have done as you did, sigh and trundle along in first gear. We get cyclists coming up our mountain, and motorists give them short shrift. I try to be as courteous as I can. Cycling is getting big around here; we have two big races now.

Mountain Dweller said...

No qualms there Angela, he should have pulled over. Cyclists think they have a God given right to the roads and they are often more dangerous than (dare I say it) your average French driver.

Open Grove Claudia said...

I'd just ram him. ;)

This is actually quite a problem here in the Rocky Mountains. I wait until it's safe, then pass them.

If I were the rider, I would pull over and let people pass. But then I hate being followed, so.... With IPODS, people are completely oblivious when they ride. He may not have notice people were behind him.

How did your son's exams go? How's the baby?

Mdx said...

There is absolutely no way that he should have pulled over. He pays taxes too and should be able to cycle on any road at any time. He was obviously putting in a lot of effort to make it up that hill. You did the right thing by being patient. I would have done the same. The real idiot is the one who passed everyone on a blind corner. But that's France for you.

Jackie said...

Oooh the urge to reach out of the car window and slap his lycra'd rear end! That would have made him cycle faster eh!!!
I would have sat behind him in low gear.....

Jackie x

roger said...

In our country, we wind down the window and say, childishly, "get off and milk it."

Kalyan said...

WoW...an wonderfully captured shot and an equally wonderful documentary...really thoughtful post & the pic!

Daniel said...

As a biker I'll pass on this piece of information that you may not know. Sometimes if you get far to the right, a car will pass you without moving left at all and therefore coming dangerously close to you. If the lane is narrow it can be much safer to stay in the lane, forcing the cars to swing wide around you, even though you know the drivers will hate you the rest of their lives.

Joey said...

Unless things are different in France, most cyclists pay the same taxes for road maintenance most drivers do, meaning he had as much right to the road as you do. Please keep in mind that you don't have a greater right to living, breathing, or traveling safely simply because you occupy the faster vehicle.

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