Having ridden a bicycle for easily a total of 50,000 miles over the past 10 years, I can honestly say I have seen my fair share of Jamokes while out rolling down the camino. In my opinion, the observations made while riding a bike are unique to anything else. At a minimum, noticing the things people do while at the same time struggling with gravity and inertia provides a different perspective than the norm. And in a way it is like “stopping to smell the roses” or “noticing the trees for the forest”. Only when we put ourselves in different situations…or force ourselves to change perspective…do we truly notice things. And, aside from the immediate questions most people would ask of, “why in the hell would you ride a bike that much?” or, “doesn’t your a$$ hurt?” there are also the questions of “why put yourself into that position?” or “how are those observations any more relevant than any other?” or the simple “who the hell cares?”

To all of the questions – ‘Yes no maybe and because that’s how I am.’

So, yesterday, I took a spin out on the bike. Having voted early, I had some free time and chose to take advantage of what was nearly a perfect day. It was mid-afternoon and I wanted to ride for two hours.

In the end, it was great. I hadn’t been out on the road since ‘The Move’…and needed to clean out the arteries a little. I did that…I got in the 2 hours…and I don’t feel too tired today. Success is measured in small increments, you know.

But, this is a post about Jamokes…and observing them while riding…

Nearly EVERY ride of my rather illustrious cycling career includes the “disparaging comment hurtled at me through an open vehicle window by some jamoke”. (Where do you think the genesis for this site and my rather peculiar viewpoint of the world came from after all?) Yesterday was no different. The comments invariably follow this pattern: “Get off the road, BLANK.” or “Roads are for cars, BLANK.”

After all…simple is as simple does.

A person of lesser self esteem would probably take these incidents personally…especially when they happen with such regularity and include such venom. And, truth be told, there was a time when I would respond in kind with a single finger or the hollered epithet. I have matured, though, and no longer let it bother me. Now I beam my biggest smile and wave broadly and yell, “Good Day to You, My Brother.” in my happiest and cheeriest voice. That A) “My Brother” sounds a little bit like “You PHucker” to a person sitting in a speeding vehicle and B) the waving and smiling just infuriates the jamokes even more is a tad bit unfortunate. But, these are the things we must do to fight against the jamoke plague and help spread the overall sense of good cheer.

But, lost to all of the participants but The Jamoker in these vaudevillian interchanges is the supreme irony of it all. Nearly always the person yelling at me is sitting in a pickup, not a car. Thus, “Roads are for cars.”, would negate the rights of Mr. Pickup Truck driver too. Also, that they already have their window open when they pass me is generally because they are smoking cigarettes or discarding trash. Yet they feel are higher on the food chain than the cyclist and have a civic duty to yell at the lower orders? Irony indeed. Yelling at a cyclist probably completes the “Games To Play While High/Drunk/Dumb Driving” Trifecta. And, nevermind the brief/momentary delay caused by their being stuck behind a person on a bike, but generally they have to turn almost right away anyway…or, they wouldn’t have missed the red light anyway. That the cyclist becomes the target of their rage for the inconvenience of a mere momentary delay when time is measured in the scale of eons and epochs and atomic half-lives is just ridiculous. Most people out on the road seem to be in NO FRICKIN HURRY to get anywhere…getting paid by the hour…lost…clueless…or just in the godd@mn way…and yet, the cyclist becomes the target of the abuse.

My personal favorite bit of irony, though, is the thought that the drivers of luxury cars probably hurtle epithets towards the pickup trucks with just as much frequency. “Roads are for cars, CowPoke!” “Get out of my way, HorsePhucker!” “Get that dirt-encrusted manure-smelling P.O.S. pickup truck back to the pasture, you jamoke!”

Because, everything is relative…