January 3, 2007: 007 (R)


Romulus steps into the booth to lay down some hustle and traffic flow.

The daily grind of a commuting cyclist is tough enough but never moreso than during the damp and frigid winter months. Toss in the typical San Francisco dense, low-visibility fog and you have a strong argument for public transportation. Nevertheless a short work week is always cause for a positive outlook, and in conjunction with the New Year, it can be downright invigorating. No matter the requisite "safety" precautions taken, my senses are seldom more sharply focused than during that initial ten minutes of my morning commute. One minute before 7am and the streets are fairly calm but a minute after the hour and it's total chaos. Double-parked cars on coffee and ATM runs, disposal vehicles pinballing their way through the streets, construction workers staking out territory, or unnerved professionals carelessly defying traffic laws in their haste to board the corporate slave ships. This morning I encountered the lady and her precious beattle, the very person Stuttgart had in mind when they resurrected the fishbowl on wheels. You know the type: 35-45 female in a gleaming silver VW bug with the dashboard flower that screams, "Peace, Love, & Screw anybody who gets in my way". Well, her cutesy-wootsey ass rollled a stop sign and just ignored my presence, leaving me annoyed and expectorating my disdain towards her. As Cortland is still closer to a Sarejevo minefield than an actual city street, I was able to offer the driver a surreptitious salute as I descended towards Bayshore. Going 35-40mph downhill on that street at that hour is borderline psycho but I've grown accustomed to the adrenaline rush. The most dangerous stretch of the journey is always the meandering I do between Bayshore and 3rd St. Every conceivable type of vehicle is encountered in this industrial area: fire engine, taxi, tanker, freight & passenger trains, school bus, beer truck, tow truck, moving van, cement mixers, sanitation (already mentioned), delivery (FedEx, DHL, UPS, USPS are all in the vicinity), and damn fools getting gas and fast food. And don't get me started on the number of basket pushing derelicts and zombie-like street hustlers who are more likened to apparitions than functional citizens. Everyday has something new to discover, yet some days are far more memorable than others. Today as I began the long 3.5 mile stretch along 3rd St from Cesar Chavez to Embarcadero, I spotted a bogey. He was almost 2 blocks ahead of me on a modified road bike - flatbars on a really old Raleigh. As I saw him stay on 3rd St. I took the parallel route along Illinois that is much safer and with no "official" stops. I calculated that I could track the bogey down within the nine blocks btw 25th and 16th where construction would force the bogey onto Illinois. Sure enough I closed the gap and was comfortably on his rear wheel right when we hit 16th. I toyed with him for a while and he responded with a stare and a "not today, buddy" to me as I attempted to cruise past. The silly bogey tried to accelerate away again as I taunted him in my middle-ring on the Pulse. We reached the Lefty O'Doul bridge simultaneously when I opened another gap as he almost ran into a moving van and later a pedestrian. As we circled Pac Bell Park I eased off the pace to let him lead out again. As we hit the Embarcaderro he attempted to ride me off his wheel again but to absolutely no avail. He clanged through his rickety gears and I smoothly engaged the big ring and took off down the Embarcadero reaching 23mph in the headwind. I dusted that sob like a beginner-class duffer all because he had the nerve to challenge me. It's gonna be a big year on the bike, dude!


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