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An Unusual Monday Morning Ride

by on March 21, 2011

This Ride: 22.3 miles
Month: 402.3 miles
2011: 1,333.5 miles
Total since 1/1/10: 7,453.2 miles

What a morning! I’ll say that again. What a morning!  There was no way I could predict the events of this morning.

Despite last night’s morning forecast of a 60% chance of rain for the 5:45 ride, I set the alarm and decided to make a game-time decision.  At 4:45 the radar on my phone showed no rain in the area (it has done this to me before) and I double checked outside and there had been no rain overnight, so I got ready and pushed out the door by about 5:20.  It was a comfortable 46°F and breezy.  I rode down Magothy Beach Rd to B&A Blvd and took that back to Ritchie Highway as a way to put a few extra miles in before meeting up with the group at the Rusty Bridge.  As I came onto the trail at White’s Road, I met Dan, and we rode north together, passing the Rusty Bridge turning around at Elvaton, then returning to the Rusty Bridge.  No one else showed.  We pushed off, anticipating picking up some riders at the Ranger Station, and found Ben waiting there for us, but that was it!  We puzzled over the low turnout for quite some time, while enjoying the quiet morning ride.

Late last week, one of our riders reached out to the Severna Park Striders, a running club, asking the early morning runners to carry lights and wear more reflective gear.  We’ve had several near misses as runners dressed in dark, non-reflective clothes have been nearly invisible to us until we are right on them.  This morning, everyone we saw running while we were headed south had a light.  We expressed our appreciation.

Once the three of us turned around at the south end of the trail, we saw the lights of two other riders, who immediately turned around.  We caught up to Chip and Jim K, and rode with them north on our morning route.  Just before getting to Glen Oban, we saw the first flash of lightning in the north.  It was then that Ben said that rain was coming, but we should be able to beat it.  (And I simply thought that the forecast was completely wrong rather than just off timing wise.)  We picked up the pace on B&A with the lightning becoming more frequent and the thunder rolls closer to the flashes.

Then we experienced the bus incident.  This is my account.

I was out ahead of the other 3 riders moving at a pretty good clip.  I hear the “car back” call, and since I’m riding in front … on the white line (no shoulder at this point) I simply maintain my position and speed.  I hear Chip yell out, “Hey!”, and within seconds a school bus brushes by so close that I’m buffeted and could have touched the bus with my arm only partially extended had I swung it out.  I have no idea how close the mirrors came to my head.  Ben, who had been riding behind me sprints behind the bus to catch it.  The bus driver pulled over in the gravel parking lot on the trail side just before Brandywine, a place where we often see him stopped because he is ahead of schedule.  Ben caught him, got him to open the door, and informed the driver he had been too close to the cyclists and asked if he could give us more room.  By then, the rest of us arrived and a shouting match ensued as the bus driver yelled at us to stay off the road and challenged us to call the police.  Things were rapidly escalating, and it was starting to sprinkle, so we decided to move on, after noting the bus company and the bus number for our complaints later in the day.  Jim K and Dan took off for home, and Chip, Ben & I rode in a pretty heavy downpour the rest of the way home.

These encounters with school bus drivers is unfortunately not rare.  We have to be careful in our response because we encounter these drivers every weekday morning, and if one of these drivers decides to attempt intimidation, one of us could get seriously injured.  A 200 lb cyclist is no match for a school bus.  An option this morning might have been to block the school bus, call the police, and let them sort it out.  Rain was coming.  The situation was escalating.  That would not have been wise.  Phone calls to the charter bus company with a time, location, and bus number is a good option.  A call to the police department might also be a good idea.  I’ll also compose a complaint letter to the charter company.  I’ll include the details, and the remediation we desire.  A copy of this letter to the police department might also be a good follow-up.  This needs some corrective action, but also documentation to help keep it from escalating.

In the meantime, our riders need to make sure that we are riding safely, responsibly, and with a great deal of caution.

The ride was a little shorter than I had hoped for this morning.  If I’m going to get my goal miles in by the end of the month I need about 25 miles per day out riding … or add another day into my plans.

Out any longer and we would have been in trouble

From → Cycling

One Comment
  1. Wow. I’m very glad to learn you and your group are ok. It’s a wonder this doesn’t occur more often during the winter morning’s of darkness. I’m not sure I would have the moxie to ride roads with no shoulder in limited visibility. Kudos to you.

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