Friday, April 11, 2014

I Am Brave

My collarbone is brave
There's a woman that I run into several times a week, who only knows one thing about me - that I ride a bike.  At least, I think that's all she knows, because that's all she talks about.  Every time I see her, she looks at me all doe-eyed and invariably asks the same question: "You still riding your bike to work?"  Well, maybe not doe-eyed.  More like a terrier seeing itself in a mirror for the first time.  Curious, confused, and a little anxious.

Photo by Torbakhopper
I have mixed emotions about this question.  When I'm in a good mood, I will give her an answer like: "Nope, I rode a dolphin to work today."  But most of the time, I just avoid her, because I dread the statement that always follows her question:

"You're so brave."

Now, I know people who are brave.  A dear friend laughed her way through chemotherapy.  Another is leaving a stable, high-paying job to follow his passion.  Another was mistreated by the people who are supposed to protect her, but came out the other end, kind, beautiful, and strong.

I'm not brave like that.  In fact, I'm kind of selfish.  I ride my bike because I enjoy it.  No, after thinking about it for a while, I have come to realize what she really means.  What she means is:

"You're a fucking idiot." 

The subtext is "You're doing something that I find dangerous and that I would never do."
 Allow me to illustrate with a few examples:

"You have adult-onset diabetes, but you're having cake and Dr. Pepper for lunch?  You're so brave."

"You do your own dental work?  You're so brave."

"You used the toilet at Denny's?  You're so brave."

This reminds me of a comedian who had a bit a few years back about the phrase "Bless his heart."  The idea is that you can say anything you want about someone, as long as you add "bless his heart" at the end.  Like "He's dumb as a post" sounds bad.  But, "He's dumb as a post, bless his heart," is better.

Anyway, riding a bike is not dangerous in itself.  The way I putz around, if I fall down, I would be more annoyed than hurt.  Worst thing that is likely to happen is, as one of my friends put it "I'll come down the hill, slip on some goose poop and end up face skidding on the bike path with goose-shit-teeth."  

Know what's dangerous (besides geese)?  Cars.  Or, more specifically, car drivers.  See, I looked it upAbout 3 people will die each day in Ohio in traffic accidents.  287 will be injured each day.  
Turns out, there were about 287,000 traffic accidents in Ohio in 2012, involving over 512,000 "units."  Of these "units." about 490,000 had motors.  The "non-motorists" numbered only 4,900, or fewer than 1% of all "units" involved in crashes.  Non-motorists included bicyclists, pedestrians, horse riders, and there may be a few dog and goat riders in there as well (under "other"). 

I am proud to be a small unit.  Also, I love being a "non-motorist".  It's kind of like the "un-cola" (remember those 7-Up ads?).  You are defined in reference to the majority (motorist or colas) and not what you actually are (cyclists or corn-syrup water with artificial citrus flavor and bubbles).  Like being non-native or my favorite, a non-lawyer.  I like those too.  Only thing I don't like is non-alcoholic beer.

Bicycles were involved in 0.38% of the traffic accidents in Ohio in 2012. 18 cyclists died and around 1,500 were injured in 2012.  This is but a small fraction of the 1,122 deaths and 105,149 non-fatal injuries that occurred. 

In comparison, motor vehicles were involved in at least 97% of the crashes.  (The "unknown category is 2.2% - more than double the non-motorist total).  

Motorists were at fault in around 250,000 cases, while non-motorists in less than 3,000 cases.  Animals accounted for over 22,000 accidents.  This means that deer are a bigger problem on the roadway than all non-motorists combined, times seven.  All deer should have to wear helmets and reflective vests.  That should help.   

Photo by Marcio Cabral de Moura
You drive to work?  With your kids in the car?  You're so brave.

No one was hurt.
Pedestrians don't get out of driver's reach either.  Pedestrians accounted for more than 10% of traffic deaths (130).  In 2012, drivers hurt or killed people on sidewalks, marked crosswalks, marked intersections, bikepaths, and the roadside and shoulder. 

Photo by lance robotson
Push button and run like hell.

In the end, I guess we are all brave.  Anyone who uses the roads regularly takes his life into his hands each time.  Depressing, really.

You know what shakes off depression?  A bike ride.  I want to go on one right now.  You coming?  I knew you would.  You're so brave.  Bless your heart!

Your beer pairing:
Elevator Dark Horse

Elevator is a great Columbus brewery.  They were here before the craft beer boom and continue to make high quality beers.  Also, they sponsor Headwinds cycling team, so they're all right in my book.

Dark Horse is a delicious dark lager.  I usually drink hoppy beers.  This one isn't.  It is smooth and mellow.  Also, I'm a bit of a dark horse myself - I perennially enter races that I'm not expected to win. 

You may have noticed the new banner up top.  I was going to write about that, but I'm out of steam and you're probably tired of reading by now.  For now, I'll just say Thanks Stevil!  Look for a mid-week post with more.  

And, I have added the ability to follow the blog up there in the right hand column.  If you like.  

I love you all, bless your hearts.  Go be brave!

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