Wednesday, May 7, 2008

The Tortoise and the Hare

We're all familiar with the fable... how the jackrabbit with amazing sprint-ability eventually gets beaten by the lowly tortoise.

But it seems a lot of people don't understand that a fable is a story with a MORAL. A story with a lesson to be learned.

Every day, I share the road with "hares" in their motor vehicles.

The light turns green, and zoom-zoom... they're up the road in a cloud of dust. Sometimes the tires even go chirp, they sprint away so quickly. Or as they punch the pedal to the metal, you hear the whooooooosh! of fuel/air intake, sucking that $3.60 gas.

Sometimes they make it through the next light. Often they don't. And here comes ol' bikeboy, uncannily tortoise-like (down to the helmet that vaguely resembles a shell), trying to keep a steady pace and hit the green lights. Dum-tee-dum... dum-tee-dum...

Frequently the drama is still repeating a mile-and-a-half from where I first spot the would-be jackrabbits.

(It always pains me to be a passenger in a vehicle that's doing the jackrabbit thing. Especially when I have a financial stake in the operation of that vehicle, if ya know what I mean. But I know better than to offer advice... I ride a bike, so what do I know about driving?)

I've become a little obsessive about it... I'm to the point where I'm trying to avoid not only "sprinting," but braking, as well. It hurts my tender emotions to have to squeeze the brakes, because I've paid my dues for the speed I'm enjoying.

I took inventory - between home and office I have one stop sign and 11 signaled intersections to deal with. (I know what you city slickers are thinking... 11 traffic signals? In Idaho?? Yeah, riight! But I don't jest.) Rarely can I make it with zero-braking, but frequently I can do it with only one braking slow-down. Months go by in which I don't have to come to a complete stop. Because I'm paying attention to what's-up-the-road (or approaching from the sides) rather than focusing on G-force acceleration (and subsequent G-force braking).

Yep - there's a moral to THAT story. And to learn it makes one wiser... and possibly more prosperous and less aggravated.


danielo said...

Great article. I find that on the rare occasions when I do drive, I'm an infinitely better driver for being a cyclist. I take it slow and easy, largely because that stop-n-rush gets on my nerves very quickly. Imagine how pleasant the streets could be for everyone -- cyclist and auto-addict alike -- if everyone drove like the tortoise!

Josh said...

I too identify with your aversion to using the brakes (on bike or car). I've worked hard to gain that momentum, it is such a waste to convert my kenetic energy to heat.

Bikeboy said...

Danielo... another way my driving perspective has changed - I used to be a 5-mph-above-the-limit type of driver (push it, but not enough to get a ticket). Nowadays the speed limit seems PLENTY fast. If I need to get there sooner, better to leave earlier.

One really COOL thing about the Toyota Prius (and if I were a motorist, that's what I'd want to drive)... the braking force actually spins a dynamo to contribute to battery-recharge. Surely it's not as efficient as just avoiding braking altogether, but I wish I was able to store braking-energy to help with subsequent acceleration.

bob t said...

My wife claims that I drive like an old man (and I'm in my 40's).

It must be the cycling :-)

Clancy said...

Great write and very humorous. I can hit most every light on my route. I also altered my route to minimize stop signs.