Archive for September, 2007

Traffic Jams

Those of you who pay attention to my sidebar may have noticed that my ride changed about two months ago. Now instead of pedaling off into the wilds of Gahanna I get to pedal into the wilds of downtown every day. This change has some advantages. First, it shaves about 3 miles and ten minutes off my commute. Second, it’s mostly downhill heading into work. Both of these make it much easier for me to overcome a reluctant morning and still get on the bike. Of course, there are disadvantages as well; the most obvious being that it is, thus, uphill to get home.

But the most interesting disadvantage is that the way into downtown is busy enough and I’m fast enough that traffic actually affects my time. Thus far the fastest I’ve been able to make it downtown is just under 16 minutes, which doesn’t even come close to my best time out to Gahanna. Plus normally I’m running around 17-18 minutes, not because I’m not pouring it on but because I have to stop and start for traffic.

I first noticed this when I used to work downtown about 7 years ago. Because of traffic lights, I can actually match the time of most cars in getting downtown. Inevitably I’d keep seeing the same cars every time I got to a red light. And that was on my old tank of a bike. Now that I’m really moving not only do I catch the cars, but the lights change my time because I have to keep stopping and starting.

Another factor is the buses. I can actually completely beat the buses without even trying very hard, but first I have to get around them. Fortunately COTA has started using biodiesel, which means that if I get stuck behind one I don’t have to deal with clouds of black smoke. But I do have to wait until they stop or traffic lets up in the left lane to get around them. Fortunately the COTA drivers are very respectful to cyclists. I’ve heard bad things from other cities about bus drivers, so I’m grateful.

But probably the worst is the idiots. I dealt with idiots on the way to Gahanna too, but there are more cars and thus more idiots driving downtown. Most of the idiots fall into the “pass me and then turn right in front of me” category, and the rest fall into the “get pissed that they can’t pass me then pretend they don’t see me when I get to the same red light” category. There are also a few of the “shout something clever from the sidewalk” kind.

But this morning I had a real gem. Some idiot was riding my rear impatient to get around me. When he finally did he shouted something unintelligible at me, which I ignored. When I caught up with him at the next light I was tempted to greet him and offer a good morning, but wisdom and some measure of self-preservation prevailed.

There was another cyclist a little ahead of me, and when idiot reached him he again shouted something, but this time, being behind him, I could understand.

He said “Fucking Democrat!”

Oh, so that’s how you can tell what party someone belongs to!

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September 5, 2007 at 9:04 pm 3 comments

Are You Ready for Some…?

For those of you not in Columbus, this past Saturday marked the beginning of the Ohio State University’s football season. I say those of you not in Columbus because if you had been in Columbus there is literally no way you could not be aware of this fact. You could have been living under the proverbial rock for the past four months, but if that rock was anywhere in Franklin County, you would know that the Buckeyes were playing Youngstown State in the home opener at 12:00 on Saturday September 1st.

Please don’t take this post as a rant against the unfortunately named sport of football (where the only time feet enter into the game are at the beginning of play, after an unsuccessful drive, and for a handful of virtually meaningless points). I enjoy American football from time to time. It can be a highly entertaining game. But the levels to which it has been elevated in this country border on the absurd. And for my money, the absurdity reaches its pinnacle here in lovely Columbus, Ohio.

Consider that all the local news outlets have been providing in depth coverage of the upcoming game for the previous week. This is for a game against Youngstown State. I imagine most of you reading this have heard of the Ohio State University. How many have heard of Youngstown State? The game was a massacre. The only points they put on the board were two field goals. And we have to endure in depth analysis of that? How many ways can you say we will/are/have beat the pants off them?

And despite this the game was a sellout. But even beyond the 100,000 people at the game, you couldn’t go anywhere without seeing people wearing scarlet and gray. At my former branch, we could adjust the public service schedule based on the game times. Basically from 12:00 to 3:00 there would be about 10 people in the library, and 5 of them would be watching the game online.

But the fun doesn’t stop when the game is over. Oh no, now we’ve got to celebrate our triumph over the football powerhouse that is Youngstown State. So on my ride back home through campus I see even more scarlet and gray, but now it’s football jerseys tied provocatively at the waist over a miniskirt, with enough makeup to put a hooker to shame. Seriously, do you think those women were celebrating the victory? No, I think they were, in the vernacular, “going to get, like, totally wasted.”

OSU’s recently resigned president Karen Holbrook caught some flak last week for describing OSU as having a culture of rioting. She basically had to retract the comments once word got back to C’bus. But why? It doesn’t change the fact that OSU students, and perhaps more importantly local party animals, all head to campus after a football game and put the excesses of ancient Rome to shame. Holbrook caught flak all through her short career as a Buckeye for trying to bring this under control. She said that the attitude she encountered was that “You’re a goodie two-shoes. You don’t understand what it is to be a Buckeye.” Well, if being a Buckeye means drinking to the point of oblivion to celebrate trouncing a team that had no business even getting on the field with a ranked Division I team, then I don’t want any part of it either.

September 3, 2007 at 8:36 am 3 comments


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