Summer is coming! Also, a new post to bayareabiker

I CAN’T WAIT TILL SUMMER! I intend to camp more, be in the sun more, swim more, everything more! I’m going to visit NYC again, will be moving to either a cheaper place in Oakland further away from Berkeley or to a place in SF to make my commute easier.
When Sept comes, I’ll be going to Europe where I intend to sleep mostly on trains. In fact, that’s where I plan to sleep off my drunkeness after a day of Oktoberfest.

I have this other blog (bayareabiker.com) where I write about commuting and riding my bike in the bay area. It’s still new. Mainly, I write about how much I hate BART. I just posted a new thing, which I’ll also post here because I find it pretty funny:

I’m usually in my own little cycling world when on the bike. I instinctively avoid getting doored or hit by cars or hitting really anything, but I also sort of don’t pay attention. It’s like the part that’s paying attention is my subconscious while my conciousness gets to run amok and look at things like birds. I’ve actually thrown snail-watching (so I don’t run them over) into the subconscious part. Just barely missed a snail yesterday as a matter of fact. I became aware of the snail because the bike seemed to avoid it of its own accord and I was wondering what was going on.

Anyway, this leads me to other areas of my commute – When I’m heading to the east bay and waiting for the Amtrak train to arrive, I am still in my own world thinking things and whatnot. Actually, I’m pretty much always like that. I often don’t notice people I know who are right next to me. What pulls me out of my world is things that are out of the ordinary or beyond what I expect, such as the snail that was in my path.

Lately, I’ve been consciously noticing my fellow bike commuters as we get onto the train and what I’ve noticed is that it’s rare to find one who is just a quiet commuter who just wants to be left alone. Some of the regulars really stand out. They seem to be that Berkeley political weird activist type who makes a fuss about certain odd things. The facial hair and/or head hair is scraggly and weird, the stickers on the bikes are looking for arguments and the bike person is looking for camaraderie in their issues with cars, the weather, politics, money or who knows what with their fellow bike enthusiasts.

Two guys stood out two days ago. One of whom I’ve seen a few times. I got onto a particularly bike crowded car.
One guy – this older gentleman with a clean shaven head and what looked like an expensive and new minimalist bike that would easily be owned by maybe a 25 year old was leaning his bike against the wall since all the bike storage was gone. I asked him, “Where are you headed” so we could put our bikes together in the correct order for our stops.
He suddenly said, “No you’re not”. I replied with, “Not what”.
“You’re just not”.
“Not what?”, I repeated. Then he moved his bike elsewhere and said I could take the spot. I decided to move and avoid because I’m just trying to commute and he said my bike could be in this spot next to his where it wouldn’t touch his bike. However, it would have taken up a handicapped seat. I told him it was ok, I’m going over here (as I point to somewhere else while waiting for all the other bike people to move out of the way). At this point, I don’t want the first spot he gave up or the new spot. He was determined though and grabbed my bike and secured it with the arm chair in the handicapped spot. I told him I didn’t want to block that seat, but he said, “See, this is perfect”.
It was pretty annoying, but I’d already been pulled into his stubbornness enough and didn’t press it. I just turned around, sat down quickly and didn’t engage any more. When the ride was over and I got up to get my bike for my coming stop, he asked me if the bike was a certain brand.
Now I know that feeling…the feeling of saying something friendly to break down the previous tension and show that we’re all in this together…
I responded in a friendly and professional manner that it’s a bianchi.
I’m actually not angry, just annoyed that I got a little too close to the bike fringe mentality for my own comfort. To put things to rest though, the guy seemed nice. I’d talk about bikes with him if the opportunity came up again as long as the weird doesn’t come out. What may have happened is he probably got that bike recently and was getting worked up while playing out a scene in his head during some of his recent rides about people trying to touch the bike. I do that kind of thing all the time with all sorts of scenarios. When the scenario happens, I have skipped the necessary stuff and get right to the reaction, making myself look kind of ridiculous. This is one of those things that we all do from time to time.

The other guy, with the whispy and weird shoulder-length hair and recumbant style bike beard said this with an awkward laugh as we got on the train that day, “Priority should be given to anyone who had to ride in the rain!”. This was said while seeking eye contact from the others. Someone else asked, “How can you tell?”. “By the rust on the chain.”, he replied. I wanted to chime in and say, “I rode all winter every day, but I took care of my chain so there’s no rust on it”, but again, that would bring me into his annoying ‘I’m an outsider and so are you and we are together in this fight’ conversation and mentality. I just sat down.

Both of these interactions happened at the same time.

I’ve noticed that people on Caltrain are a little less fringe-oriented. There are a lot more people who just want to do their commute like a minimal security prison sentence instead of like a movement of bike empowerment. Maybe it’s an east bay thing (Amtrak goes up the east bay while Caltrain is on the West).

The dangerous thing here is that I could be seen as a member of this fringe. I am political about bike riding, I have stickers on my bike (although they all say NASA), I have a weird old fashioned moustache, etc etc… However, as long as I keep my opinions to myself and don’t try to seek validation for my beliefs from those who I think will support my cause, maybe it’ll be ok….maybe.

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