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Cycling My Fuji and Fuji's Five Lakes

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July 17, 2008

Natural Selection in Action

As we enter summer I've noticed more people pedaling to work along my route each morning. Riders sharing my route come and go, there are some regulars with whom I exchange greetings and smalltalk about the weather or traffic, but there are few you see every day and few who stand out from the crowd.

Recently though one fellow has got my attention. Its partly because he is cycling dressed in a suit, minus the jacket, even as the temperature pushes beyond 30 degrees and partly because he is riding an ordinary shopping bike in the traffic. But the thing that first grabbed my attention was his pedaling style which can only be described as frog-like. With one heel on each pedal and knees pointing 90 degrees out from the frame rather than parallel to it, he cranks his bicycle at quite a clip looking like some kind of giant animated frog.

But above all this unlikely cyclist has my attention because I'm watching to see just what kind of accident eventually kills him.

You see this fellow takes great delight in being ahead of everyone else. At a red light he creeps from behind into pole position, cunningly watching the lights and leading out when he expects them to turn green. He'll pump his frog legs in a comical fashion to get up to speed and leave us all in his dust. Well, at least until a few meters down the road when he is caught up and easily overtaken.

In order to regain first place in his imaginary race this guy takes extraordinary risks to his safety. He'll run red lights at smaller intersections without checking if they're clear. He'll race down the inside of moving traffic oblivious to the drivers blind spots, oblivious to those turning into side streets, and those emerging from them. When the space between car and sidewalk is too narrow he'll jump onto the sidewalk, then swerve back out into traffic with barely a glimpse behind him. I've seen him attempt to adjust something on his frame while drifting into on-coming traffic, almost colliding with the car in front of him as he quickly returned to his own lane.

All this time myself and other riders who value our lives are playing it safe yet manage to repeatedly overtake him, as when he is not being Evel Knievel he is understandably slow, what with his suit, mama-chari and amphibian pedaling style.

Just this morning after a similar series of events frog legs was out in front coming up to a traffic light which marks the end of his race, for it is at this light his 'competition' disperses in different directions. I watched him speed up as the light turned orange, then as the light turned red he entered the intersection and sat up in the saddle as if he had just won a stage victory in the Tour de France.

If it wasn't so damn dangerous it would have been hilarious. Actually, forget the danger, it was hands down the funniest thing I've seen on a commute in a while ...

I've witnessed him in action about 3 times now and fully expect to see him in an accident right before my eyes. While I love a spectacular crash as much as the next guy I don't want to see frog legs get himself injured or killed.

But what can I can do to prevent it from happening? I'm quite aware of the danger he is in, is he? Do I collar him at a red and give him some friendly advice? Do I avoid overtaking him knowing that will just fuel his desire to get ahead again. Would he ride like an idiot regardless of his perceived place in the "race"?

At the end of the day he is a grown man, responsible for his own decisions and actions. I'd hate to see him in an accident, but its already enough work just looking out for myself out there.

I think I'll let natural selection run its natural course.