Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Training - Granby, CT

I train in Granby regularly. My Mountain Road loop goes through Granby. We looked at houses in Granby, even made an offer on one.

The other day two cyclists were struck by a drunk driver at just after 7 AM.

Okay, that's not really that surprising, a drunk driver hitting something. But it's interesting what people think about it when able to post anonymous comments on the Internet.

To borrow from the Eastern Bloc Cycling Club forum, here is a good tip if you go to the link I'm about to post:

1. Don't feed the trolls in online discussions. You won't win and you'll just make yourself angry and frustrated.

With that warning, here is the Topix link.

Sobering, isn't it?

My own experience has been that drivers ignore me until I move closer to the white line. Since many drivers go over the white line regularly (i.e. drive on the shoulder), even on straights, I need to move to the white line so they don't put a mirror into my rear end. Only if I ride on the white line do the drivers seem to at least stay out of the shoulder. This is the case in all the towns in the area - Simsbury, Canton, Avon, Granby, the towns that currently make up my training box.

In contrast, when training in Norwalk (and Fairfield County in general), drivers were more conscious of their driving - they wouldn't straddle the white line for hundreds of yards at a time, at least not to my recollection over my 25 years of training there.

Down there they also don't do the following:

1. Simsbury Stops (rolling through stops at 20 mph seems to be somewhat common here).

2. Simsbury Follows (where you follow the next vehicle on the road close enough such that you can't see their license plate).

3. Simsbury Reds (red lights are Spanish red lights - at least one car can go through a red before you have to stop).

4. Simsbury Pull Outs (driver pulls out 30 feet in front of a car going 45 mph).

Our visitors regularly express shock and dismay when witnessing one or more of the above driving techniques. I tell them that it's because people around here are too nice. No horns, no guns. In Norwalk you didn't pull stuff like that because either you'd get a ticket or you'd get shot.

Up here they smile and wave.

So, although I stop at stop signs, I also cringe because the person behind me (doing a Simsbury Follow) is typically surprised by my stop. I don't tailgate so it gets the folks behind to follow me even closer (Simsbury Super Follow?). I hit the brakes when the lights turn yellow, also cringing in case the driver behind me (again, doing a Simsbury Follow) is going to stop in time, instead of plowing through me because they were expecting me to do a Simsbury Red. And finally, I simply don't have the nerve to pull out right in front of someone. So I don't.

Up north, in the next state, maligned as it is for poor drivers, it's not too bad.

Roads? Bad.

Drivers? Well, in their own state, they seem okay. When they're here? Bad.

But road shoulders? On Massachusetts, Route 10/202, forget about it. The white line can be literally inches from a drop off into gravel or dirt so there is no room for error. I have to ride further into the lane than comfortable, but it seems the drivers understand this is not my fault. Roads further off the path seem better, and with virtually no one living in the area, cars are somewhat of a rarity anyway. So riding up there isn't too bad.

So as not to make Connecticut seem like a horrible place, I don't normally get honked at when I ride. I did have an unfortunate driver who didn't think I should be able to turn left and so honked and yelled at me for, well, turning left. I was on the (unmarked) shoulder, riding as close to the right as practical, but that wasn't enough for the driver. Of course the driver passed me on a blind hill crest (hill is literally 40 or 50 feet long), on the other side of the road, yelling and gesturing at me while driving on the wrong side of a busy road.

Except for that one incident, I can't recall anyone being anything but polite when passing me. I'll have to keep track a bit better going forward.

A quick recovery for the rider who has been released, and best wishes for the one still hospitalized.


Colin R said...

Man, I should not have clicked that link. What a wasted half hour.

Giles said...

yea, the comment board on that link was pretty heinous. Basically it seems like cyclists are the problem because they get in the way of people that are DUI'ing and speeding, which makes DUI'ing and speeding dangerous.

One thing of note though, is that the argument that motorist have the only rights to the road is unfounded historically. In the horse-and-carriage days, road weren't paved, but cyclists were the ones that lobbied to get roads paved, before the invention of the car.

Anonymous said...


having grown grown up there with family still in the area I can say the sense of entitlement of the population is overwhelming. the sense of priveledge unfortunately extends to the roads where they think their money can buy them out of any legal trouble their ignorance gets them into. of course concern for the victim typically doesn't enter the picture for these people. what a pity because the scenery is simply gorgeous.

LTC Tim...