Wednesday, June 20, 2007

A Hot Ride Downtown

This story doesn't have an exciting ending, but if you're willing to read through, I'm interested in hearing comments.

It's Monday, after work. The weather is nice and warm, which seems to bring out a lot of cyclists. I'm passing under the 401 on a narrow path used by cyclists and pedestrians, mostly heading to and from work.

A cyclist is heading towards me, gunning it, so I slow down to make sure I don't brush my knuckles on the fence. A second after he passes, I hear a guy yell behind me. Apparently the cyclist behind me didn't appreciate the close call.

I ask if he's ok, and he tells me that the fast cyclist nearly made him crash, but he's alright.

Guy: Hey, how long does it take to get downtown from here.

Me: Maybe about 40 minutes, but it depends a lot.

Guy: Depends how fast you can ride?

Me: Yup. And what way you go. Are you going to take Yonge Street or do you know the back roads?

Guy: I don't know.

Me: Well, follow me, and I'll lead you on the back roads some of the way. You don't want to ride down Yonge over there.

We pull up to the highway ramp to wait for a break in the traffic.

Guy: Doesn't it feel weird being attached to your pedals like that?

Me: No, you get used to it pretty quickly. I used to have regular pedals with a strap, but this lets me go up hills a little faster.

He has regular pedals, no straps. I see he has sandals on, the kind you just slide your foot into without the thing between your toes. He's also half way through a cigarette. I start to wonder how much time I'm going to add to my commute home by waiting for this guy.

Me: Where are you riding from.

Guy: Yonge and Finch.

We're still waiting for the cars to let up. We make a few comments about the traffic. Eventually we cross and head over to a quieter street.

Guy: Hey, do you know where I could sell this bike?

Me: I don't know.

Guy: I have the instructions and everything. It's only 2 weeks old. It's a GT.

It's a yellow GT mountain bike. I don't end up looking too carefully to see the model or suspension type. It does look new.

Me: There must be some bike shops that buy used bikes.

Guy: There's one on Queen Street, right?

Me: I think there used to be, but I heard it got shut down by the police because there were too many stolen bikes. (I don't know how true that is).

Pedal, pedal, pedal. He's definitely not keeping up, even at a slow pace on level ground. I recommend he take the subway, but he's not interested in waiting the 15 minutes until they let bikes on.

Me: Have you tried Craigslist?

Guy: What's that?

Me: A web site. You can sell anything there.

Guy - nothing

Me: You don't want to ride that bike? It looks like a really nice bike.

Guy: Nah, I want to get something better.

We continue on to the bottom of the hill at Hogg's Hollow. I recommend he take Yonge now because the hill is too steep on the side streets. We split up.

The bike hasn't shown up on Craigslist yet.

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Darren J 6/20/2007 12:23:00 p.m.


Strange encounter, indeed. It would seem like a stolen bike, but you give the appearance that the guy was very calm about it. But then again these guys don't care much, do they?
Here's my guess at his story: he saw a feature on TV or in a magazine (a lad's mag maybe) that made cycling seem pretty cool, so he went out and bought one to get a bit of that cool for himself. But the experience turned out to be not-so-cool given his conditioning and the locale, but he figured it was the bike, not being quite cool enough, that was the problem.
I never talk to other cyclists on my commute. This is probably because I never really see any other cyclists on the road. I think I bike either earlier or later than most folks, but I have never bothered to figure out which.

This gentleman should probably have taken his bike back to the store he got it from. Surely they would take back a bike that was only 2 weeks old!
How old was the guy?

You were a lot nicer than I would have been. I generally like just zooming along on my own, especially when you need to get to work on time.
The dude sure does seem to be a pretty dubious cyclist.

P.S. are the side streets going up that hill from Hog's Hollow worse than Yonge Street? Holy crap - I thought Yonge street was bad enough on it's own right there.
Well Tuco, I guess you have to take into account the author of the story, even if it is non-fiction!

Alberto, he wasn't exactly calm. He just couldn't ride very fast.

f^b, It's rare that I talk to cyclists. I see a bunch, but usually heading in the other direction, so if one pulls up beside me I at least say hi.

argonic, I'm like you and tend to give the guy the benefit of the doubt, even if your story doesn't exactly help him much.
Tuco, I can vouch for the steepness of "the hill" on that route. It's kind of hard even when I walk my bike up it... :(
Darren, would you like to repeat your feat ride TO-Ottawa this year? I would like to join you for that. Please write to :
Thank you, Dmitri

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