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10/28/2010: "Hurry Up and Wait...."
We're all too accustomed to that imbecilic "hurry up and wait" type of driver who roars past you in a cloud of smog and hormones as you pedal peacefully along, only to be brought up short by a crowd of his fellow cagers at the next red light or stop sign. I once followed such a fellow for three miles, repeatedly passing him as he enmeshed himself and his big black SUV in congestive road failure at the intersections, then watching as he roared once again past me--and often one or two of his fellow roadblocks--only to roll gently past him again at the next cross street.

What a waste of fuel and nervous energy!

And how much more of a waste when we do it ourselves on our bicycles!

Because I've encountered the same mindset in my fellow pedalers now and then, and not just the silly red light runners I mentioned a few weeks ago. Just today I met an otherwise very nice roadie, a somewhat lost tourist who was looking to find the way to the Pacific Coast Highway. He was bombing down Wilshire as if pursued by leopards, only to be caught at the red lights (which are generally stop-or-die red lights, given our traffic in the Wilshire Corridor), where I woould catch up to him.

Good for him that I did, for he was about to turn the wrong way on Santa Monica and once again head away from PCH.

He explained he'd already made a wrong turn earlier, and quite possibly his sense of hurry had distorted his memory and judgment to lead him astray, as often happens. I gave him directions, and went on my way.

I see this fairly often, though, and I suspect it diminishes the civility otherwise inherent in the use of a slower and more open form of transport. I can move right along myself, and just recently was timed by a fellow rider in the mid-20mph range as I chugged along the Santa Monica bikes lanes towards the sea. But I wasn't hurrying then, nor sprinting from light to light with grim-set jaw and narrowed eyes. I was just cruising fast, without hammering.

Eh, if you're in such a hurry, get a motorcycle. Otherwise, enjoy the blessing of the pedal bike, which allows you to move at running speed with walking effort and get places quickly enough without missing the world in between as you go.

From what I've read of hurry and anxiety, the psychological pressure one puts oneself under in rushing cancels out the aerobic benefit of the sprint.

If you're going fast but not feeling a smile on your face and a "Wheee!" in your heart, it's time to slow down. In most cities, you'll still beat the cagers there--and outlive them, too. And, be glad you did.

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