>>> Edited For Content
By staff writer Mike Forest
August 18, 2004


People who ride bikes in the street really piss me off. I'm not talking about people who ride on the shoulder when there is no sidewalk. That's fine. I'm talking about the Lance Armstrong wannabes decked out in neon spandex, sperm-shaped helmets and special shoes that clip right into the pedals. These assholes haven't figured out that they're not as fast as they think they are. Sure they're fast for a bicycle, but my car can go 85 mph (that's 120 liters in metric). Okay, my speedometer can go to 85. The point is that there are taxpayer-supported sidewalks they can ride on.

“But, Beech,” you say. “What about the people who are out walking? The sidewalk is for them, not bikes.”

First of all, how did you get into my office and where is that voice coming from? It really doesn't matter, because you couldn't be more wrong. People can step out of the way. Cars have other cars to deal with and can't step off the road or swerve into oncoming traffic. I suppose they CAN, but it's really not a good idea.

I must admit that these bikes are pretty amazing. They cost more than my car (which I have discovered is by far the shittiest car in the parking lot of my new place). They have mirrors, about ten thousand gears and GPS navigation. A guy I used to work with rode. He used to tell me about his new titanium rims that only weighed 800 grams (.3 bowling balls) and his new fork, forged in space from silly putty and aluminum foil, which made it as flexible as a Russian gymnast pre-Cold War and as strong as the United Nations before Bush. I nodded through all of this and pretended I knew what he was talking about.

The last bike I had was a black death trap with twelve gears and a chain that loved nothing more than to bind up and throw me off into the bushes sending freshmen and chipmunks scurrying out of my way. I found out very early in my college career that it took more time to unlock my kryptonite lock (forged in the bowels of Mount Doom), ride the bike to class, find some place to park it, and re-lock it than it did to just walk to class, sit down, and go to sleep. Plus it's a lot harder to smoke a cigarette and look cool on a bike.

So I was behind a couple of these assholes the other day when I was driving through campus. They took up the whole lane in front of me and used all those stupid hand signals to indicate where they were going. No one knows what those mean. I don't even remember them being on the 500 question driver's ed tests. What's wrong with pointing?

“I'm going that way” (points left).

Good. Now I know which way to not go.

I ended up having to follow them halfway through campus, where we have really great sidewalks by the way. It's summer, so the only people on the street are pre-frosh, who may as well get used to dodging bikes. Isn't that what orientation is for? So even though there were sidewalks, they rode in the street flapping their arms around trying to communicate to me where they were going. This upset me, but what really set me off was that they didn't obey any traffic signals. If you're going to ride in the street (which you shouldn't), you have to fucking stop when there's a fucking red light. Red means stop. I remember THAT from driver's ed. Next time I see one of those guys go through a red light, I'm going to follow them and run them over. I'll even give them a hand signal. You know which one I mean.

Eric, I know you bike, but this applies to you as well: I will run your ass over if you ever try this around me. However, since I mentioned you, I may as well thank you, VT and Danny for helping me move a couple weekends ago. There. I hope you're happy. I just wasted valuable bandwidth on you and no one knows who the hell you are.

Eric and VT are two of my best friends from high school who came over from WMU to give me a hand moving. I made VT come because he is the obligatory “guy with the truck,” but it was also his birthday so we took him to the bar after we finished up on Saturday. About 30 minutes before closing time, Eric tells me to sign his tab and gets up and leaves. I think nothing of it, because…well…I'm drunk. Twenty minutes later I notice he's still not back and go looking for him. He's not in the bathroom. Oh well. I'm sure he'll show up before we leave.

“Beech, your friend is outside puking and the cops and the paramedics are out there.”

Dammit.

I run out there, decently hammered at this point, and assess the situation. There is no way that I will let Eric be hauled off to the hospital unless he's inches from death. His mom would have killed me. Call me crazy, but ever since I got this gig I finally have something to live for. I get outside and Eric is sitting on the curb with his head down. I head over to the cops and ask them what's up. My buddies from State go get pizza.

Long story short, I get into it with the paramedics. “Look,” I ask them, “Is he more drunk than a couple glasses of water and a night's sleep won't cure?”

They tell me he's probably okay and the cop asks me if I'm drunk. “Well, I'm not driving,” I tell him. We're all legal so there's really nothing he can do. “Can I call a cab to take us home right now?”

They tell me they want to observe him a bit more. I tell them I'm going to take him home and in a college quotable way I add, “911 is an easy number to remember. If we need you, we'll call you.” This was supposed to come out more complimentary towards our excellent emergency response people, but it came off completely jackass.

“You're being a smartass,” he tells me. I back off.

Meanwhile Eric is still on the curb and has switched from all out puking to spitting up a little. People on the street are looking at us and laughing. Flashing lights always draw a crowd at State. I tell them to fuck off and call a cab. “Forty-five minutes,” they tell me.

The cops and paramedics leave, and it starts to rain. All of a sudden, VT says he thinks he can drive. I hoist Eric up and try to walk him to the car. I can't navigate and hold him up at the same time so he staggers into the middle of the street. I sit him back on the curb. The bar is closed, so we just stand there waiting. Forty-five minutes later my other friends come back from getting pizza and we get a ride home. Sorry taxi guy.

Shawn and I help Eric to the car. As we're leaving I look back to where Eric was sitting on the curb. The sidewalk is covered in puke. I smile because that is also what a sidewalk is for.

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