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Saturday, August 14, 2010

Everybody Makes Mistakes

So I'm flying down Johnson Drive toward Merriam Lane, which isn't unusual, but I timed the light at Antioch, which has never happened that I recall. I almost hit the brakes because the light was green when I first noticed it, and I didn't think I'd make it, but it was still green where I judged the point of now return to be and I was going fast enough to clear it even if it went yellow right then. Which it didn't.

Then I hit the next light, still green, same thing. And the next one. At which point I should have realized I'd exhausted any possible luck: it was a green light hat-trick on a busy four-lane road through lots of retail development, and that just doesn't happen.

The light by the highway ramps for I-35, though, was green too and I cranked toward it hoping.

I saw a car pull out, making a right turn on red from the ramp, and that's cool, it alerted me that others might have that idea. So I was looking hard around the corner for cars coming, which was a good thing in a way. I saw the Humvee that pulled out fast when I thought I was about to make the intersection on green. He was not making a right on red, he was turning left, and as I grabbed a big old handful of brakes, I shouted, 'Dude!' Then I saw the light I was trying to make was red, I'd been too focused on the potential traffic to notice the signal.

What a stupid mistake, I'm glad I had enough brake to stop before I ran into the side of a moving car. I don't generally push lights, there's not enough speed to do so on a bicycle. I was on a streak that couldn't last, and I should have paid closer attention to the signal. Fortunately, I pay more attention to what cars are really doing than to what they have the right of way to do, or thinking that I had a green light would have probably landed me in the ER or worse.

The main thing I was dealing with outside of that, today, was the heat. I had a different route planned, which involved going wast on 55th to Pflumn and going north to Holiday Drive and heading back east on that. This was the original flight plan:

But my Camelbak was feeling mighty light by the time I got to Pflumn, and that's only like seven miles into it. And there aren't many retail establishments of any kind going that the way I intended, so I wasn't sure where I'd be able to refill and/or get out of the heat for a minute. So I went south and refilled my Camelbak at the BP at Shawnee Mission Parkway & Pflumn, a box I spent many nights in when it was an Amoco and I was a 19-year-old chain smoker.

So this was the route I actually rode:

The rest of the ride was pretty uneventful, refilled the Camelbak and got out of the heat again at a 7-11 on Antioch, and when I was almost back to Mom's, I was cruising up Lowell to 55th Terrace, and at that intersection, the traffic on 55th Terr. has yield signs, whereas Traffic turning either way on the T from Lowell has the right of way. And right as I'm getting ready to lean into the turn, I see an SUV coming up to the Yield sign and then blowing through it, no pause at all.

Second time today, I shouted, 'Dude!' though in this instance I was right. Well, sorta right. I was correct that I had the right of way, and this big ol' SUV with music blaring came near clipping me, but it was no dude.

As the car passed before me, I saw a hand up, and I thought I saw a cell phone in the hand. Music was coming pretty loud out of the open windows of the vehicle, and I was pretty sure that the chick behind the wheel hadn't heard or seen me. And that she was texting while driving that murder weapon around.

I followed, not really mad, just wanting to say, 'Did you see me? I had the right of way and had committed to the turn before I realized you weren't even slowing down for that Yield. I have two daughters waiting for me at my Mom's house and they'd like to see me come back alive.'

It was mostly downhill to where she was going, and there wasn't much chance she was passing through the neighborhood as it's basically an oubliette, only a couple ways in or out.

When I caught up to her, she was out of her vehicle and going into her apartment building and she surprised me by saying, 'I know, I shouldn't have blown through there. I'm really sorry, I didn't realize you were there until I heard you shout.'

At which point I remembered my own lapse a few miles earlier. Then she added, 'That's why I held up my hand, I was saying I'm sorry.'

She said she wasn't texting, and I think I believe her. I think my mind may have filled in the notion of a cell phone.

This does shake my theory that while motorists don't see cyclists, nobody ever missed a big guy in a Hawaiian shirt, because this chick clearly did exactly that.

I think if I hadn't been paying attention to what she was really doing instead of what I thought she was supposed to do, we'd have probably gotten to know each other better than we want to.

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