What road work means for an introvert on a bike.

DSC00738The month of June is hereย which means that road work has begun in earnest. I am delighted every time I see a team of construction workers decked in orange out working because that means we will end up with a better road. And better roads means better biking. Although cracks and potholes keep the route interesting, I prefer to go without those hazards if at all possible.

The downside of road construction is that I have to bike through them and that can be tricky at times. A few days ago I found myself behind a car, waiting for a worker to signal us to go through a work zone. His fellow workers were laying new asphalt on one side of the road, reducing the stretch of road to one lane only. After all the cars from the other side of the work zone had made it across, the worker changed his sign from “STOP” to “SLOW” and signaled us forward. As usually happens whenever I am under pressure, clipping in took a few tries.

In my mind “SLOW” in a work zone would be 25 MPH at the most, but the car I was following behind clearly took “SLOW” to mean 2.5 miles slower than the normal speed limit. By the time I had affixed my shoe properly to my pedal the car was long gone. I checked behind me to see if there were any cars but the coast was clear.

Then it hit me.

There was a line of (ever-increasing) cars waiting at the other side of the work zone for one reason and one reason only; they were waiting for me to get through. The pressure was on and I began to pedal my heart out. Construction workers were gawking at me like I was a alien from outer space with purple ears. (Have I mentioned before-I am an alien from outer space with purple ears.) I felt so awkward and out of place (that is a fairly normal feeling for an alien though). The faster I went, the more cars I could seeing waiting impatiently on the other side.

I pounded those pedals as fast as I could while still remaining alert and cautious because if a car could injure me, I would hate to see what a colossal construction vehicle could do. After making those cars wait for what seemed like an eternity I finally reached the end of the one lane zone. I could feel the scrutiny of drivers and passengers alike and my face started flushing red.

“Hi, folks! Yes, I am the annoying biker girl who has held you up on your morning commute.”

Oh well, if I was going to be the annoying biker girl at least I was going to be the polite, smiling, annoying biker girl. I said, “Thank you!” to the worker at the end and flashed my most charming (I hope) smile at the waiting cars and went down the road praying that I would not have to endure the emotional and physical turmoil of another work zone that day.

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25 thoughts on “What road work means for an introvert on a bike.

    • Great idea! I fumble with my pedal at the most inopportune times…especially when I know people are watching me. Maybe I should hire a crowd of people to stare at me as I clip in over and over in a parking lot, that should get me desensitized in no time ๐Ÿ™‚

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah have a friend get together with a bin fire and s’mores and have them all wash you. Maybe you get others involved and make a contest out if it.

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      • Perfect! The “How many times can you clip in and out of your pedals in 5 minutes while everyone is staring at you” contest.
        Who knows?
        Maybe it will even launch a spin off reality TV show!

        Liked by 1 person

  1. If you had been an extrovert, which I am not, you would have used that time in the spot light to really slow down. Perhaps even stop and check your watch..take a drink and show off your new bike like Vana White. Then finish off peddling through with no hands to the applause of the waiting cars. Extroverts have all the fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Don’t think so much! Seriously, cut it out. May seem off-putting to phrase it that way, but I’d rather not tiptoe around things… And I used to be so afflicted long ago. It takes practice, but you can tell that part of you that is choosing embarrassment to shut up. It works and you’ll be happier once this is mastered. The melon committee will listen and fall into line.

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    • It is true, sometimes I think way too much. The reality is in a situation like this, I don’t actually know if people are getting annoyed at me-I just assume they are! There was no hard evidence to back it up I just had the thought, “Everyone is waiting for YOU” and yup, I let my melon committee churn the rest out.

      Sometimes I am good at telling my brain to shut up (one of the best ways for me is when a ridiculous thought pops into my mind I just laugh at it) but in a totally spontaneous situation? It is so easy to let my thoughts go haywire. I need to get a pair of haywire cutters!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sorry to beat a dead horse, but did you know that extroverts secretly wish they were introverts. They think, “why why why must I dance in the street and talk to everyone and draw attention to myself? Why can’t I be more like that nice quiet bike lady I see riding all over town. She looks so calm and peaceful.” I know this because there was a Harvard study done in 1968. Scientific.

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      • Well if it was a study done at Harvard in 1968 (because everything was done perfectly in 1968) it must be true!

        But don’t think that I always look calm and peaceful on my bike…much of the time I am grinning like a loon because biking is way too much fun ๐Ÿ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

  3. I much prefer it when there is a vehicle I can draft, something big like a bus, that’s always appreciated. But think of it like this… if all the motorists had chosen to travel by bike, there would have been enough room for two-way traffic on that one lane ๐Ÿ˜‰ Or at least if the the waiting motorists were thinking bad thoughts, they should have projected them at the motorist ahead of you that didn’t help you out ๐Ÿ˜€

    Oh a serious note, roadworks sure can be extra dangerous for us bikers. Where I live, when there are manned-stop-go signs, the guys are pretty good at radioing ahead to inform the other guy there is a bike coming through – I’ve seen them do this and I assume they’re trained to, thankfully. I’ve had some problems with traffic lights at roadworks though that haven’t given me enough time to get through and once I was faced with some oncoming traffic (I was on a mountain road with my bike fully laden with camping gear) – I was almost there but I assume the first driver was too impatient to wait a little while longer while his light was on green, but the problem was then with the cars behind him who didn’t have much chance of seeing me as he lead the way (as a motorist you generally just focus on the car in front).

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    • Oh my, you are right, I could have totally blamed it on the car ๐Ÿ˜‰

      I can only imagine…MTB loaded with gear trying to fight a rushing current of cars…glad you made it through in one piece! Oncoming traffic is scary when you don’t have much of anywhere to go.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I can totally feel your pain. On the way to work we have lane closures so there is only one lane for traffic to go through. We have traffic lights but the delay isn’t long enough for cyclists to get through sometimes.

    Don’t think road works are planned well with cyclists in mind.

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  5. Try not to stress about it. Those people in cars are going to get to their destination soooo much faster than you anyway. Waiting a few extra seconds is not going to kill them. ๐Ÿ˜€ We’re helping them learn patience and if we’re friendly and smiley then hopefully it works.

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  6. Fussing about with clipping into pedals is one reason that I stick with flat pedals. I frequently have to stop for traffic on my commute or errands after work, and I fear that I would have a similar problem if I had to clip into my pedals. I can imagine the scenario: me at the head of a line of cars, light turns green, me struggling for a few seconds to clip in, drivers behind me steaming in their bucket seats, angrily honking away. I’ve been there, as a car driver, when the first driver in line delays for a few seconds at a green light.

    I’ve had the privilege lately of riding on some recently-reconstructed roads near me. It really is like rolling along smooth glass compared to the pothole-rutted roads that comprise the bulk of the road network. I opted to avoid the road works and go an alternate route rather than trying to scott past them. That road is very narrow so there may not have been enough room to squeeze by if I had tried.

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    • Although I have been enjoying learning how to use my clipless pedals (I can bike with one foot, how cool is that?) flat pedals definitely have some bonuses ๐Ÿ™‚

      Newly paved road is amazing! I have been surprised to find myself slightly sentimental about the absence of potholes though…I knew them all and though they were annoying to weave around, they were like old friends!

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  7. One of the techniques they use in social anxiety therapy is to expose yourself to embarrassment by doing stupid things on purpose. It uh, isn’t my favourite, but maybe just pay attention to what really happens when those drivers have to wait. Everybody came out unscathed, huh? This kind of stuff isn’t always easy to “snap out of”, but it can be done. I have an extroverted friend who gets totally frazzled if people are waiting for her while she parallel parks her tiny car. One time she was trying to park while we were going somewhere and then she said, “I can’t do it!” and drove away. She swears she can do it when nobody is around. I think this stuff happens to a lot of people at one time or another.

    I hate when flaggers hold their signs up in complete silence when I’m walking somewhere, and I am never sure if I’m supposed to stop or not. It is the worst. There was construction by my old work and I can’t tell you how many times I had this super awkward “who’s on first?” moment with a flagger.

    Oh man, the roads here are bad. I should put a camera on my handlebars. Last year there was a sinkhole that became locally famous. Two different twitter accounts appeared as the sinkhole and people were taking selfies with it. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/st-mary-s-road-lanes-reopen-after-city-fills-sinkhole-1.2643124

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    • And that is the thing, I really shouldn’t worry or feel under pressure because what is the worst that can happen? A couple of drivers may get slightly upset. I need to realize that there is nothing wrong with that, they will get over it!

      That is completely hilarious that you have sinkhole infamous enough to have their own twitter accounts, haha!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Pingback: Whenever possible, bike. | Bike Like Crazy

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