I managed to squeeze in a bike ride on the Capital Crescent Trail yesterday morning, and it was beautiful. But just north (or is it northwest?) of the trail's mile marker 9, cyclists ran into a tree across the trail. What struck me was how cyclists just quietly ported their bikes over the tree, often helping out the guy behind them. I think had this been the situation on the Beltway, we would have seen dashboard-pounding and heard horns honking. Maybe it's because when you're on a bike, you do have more control, so people don't immediately default to nutty, cranky behavior. But it was nice.
That is not to say I don't see plenty of problem behaviors by cyclists on the trail. There are still too many folks who come way too close to your tail before either calling out 'on your left' or ringing a bell to signal the same. And too many folks intent on passing at all costs--failing to leave enough room between the cyclist or pedestrian ahead of them and any oncoming 'traffic'. I see it all the time. And sadly, it's putting people off. Just recently, a friend of mine who'd like to augment her running asked me about biking on the trail but expressed the fear that she'd be flattened--not by traffic on streets getting to the trail, but on the trail, by the type of cyclist I can only refer to as "Mr. Angry-Lycra-Pants".
To be fair, I have had inconsiderate female riders cut me off-- once so sharply that I ended up having to brake so hard I skidded and went down while she sailed off without a single backward glance--but guys, I hate to say it, it's often a "Mr." wearing the title "Angry-Lycra-Pants". Look, I hate being stuck in a pack of slow riders. I don't like it when people hog the whole trail walking or riding side by side. And I'm no fan of the folks who walk along oblivious while yapping into a cell phone. (To me trail time is alone-time).
I like an early morning ride on the trail to get a chance to open up a bit and push myself, but
a) it's a mixed-use trail and
b) it's a mixed-use trail and oh,
c) it's a mixed-use trail.
We're gonna find people out trying to enjoy a quiet walk, we're going to find people out trying to take the edge off that Lab puppy of theirs with a long walk to tire him out, and we're gonna find that there are riders of varying abilities. We need to take care, give way, and expect the unexpected. So sprint when you can (hey, it's fun, I know) but ease up.
And smile, Mr. Angry Lycra pants.
You're not stuck not the Beltway. You're on one of the most beautiful trails in creation, enjoying one of the greatest sensations in the world: gliding along under your own power. What could be better than that?