Fourth place, an average of 8.64 mph
July 6, 2006
It’s 5 p.m., and I’m out the door of the office. My favorite time of day, spoiled only by the knowledge that I’m about to get into my car and jockey for position to escape town.5:04 p.m. In the car, I’m running neck and neck with a RFTA bus that’s cruising down the bus lane. This isn’t so bad – I expected much worse.5:05 p.m. OK, it’s worse. I’m officially parked on Main Street, and I haven’t made it past Third. Buses are sailing past me, and – wait a minute – that’s a private shuttle in the bus lane. Is he supposed to be there? I can feel the bitterness bloom.5:06 p.m. Still parked at Third, with time to take these notes. Ahead of me, other cars begin the merge. The rhythm of the turn signals lulls me into a daze.5:07 p.m. My trance is broken as I realize I’m the idiot stopped in the middle of the intersection, so that a car to my right can’t turn onto Main. Ooops.
I inch forward and engage in a little light reading – if only the cars around me had more interesting bumper stickers. Sadly, today it’s remedial reading. The little red Texas truck in front of me sports only a bland sticker telling me that someplace called “Howdy’s,” presumably in Texas, hearts our kids.5:08 p.m. Still stop-and-go as I begin to merge. I might as well answer the phone. I’m not doing anything else. Suddenly, I realize I’m “that guy” – you know the one, talking on the phone and taking notes.5:11 p.m. I’ve reached Sixth Street. Eleven minutes into the race, and I’m not even at the S-curves. I’ve seen at least three RFTA buses pass me, but at least Janet wasn’t on one of them. Her bus hasn’t even left yet. On the other hand, Stewart may have already reached the ABC on his bike – and my left foot aches from the constant clutching.The merge is a nightmare. People can be so pushy. Some poor guy on Sixth Street is trying to turn right onto Main. I figure I’ll be nice and let him in, but some guy on my left swoops into the space.”Hey jerkface! Do you know what ‘alternate’ means?” Oh, wait, you’re on oxygen. I guess I can cut you some slack.I haven’t gone 10 blocks yet – how did my attitude get so bad?5:14 p.m. Ahhh, the S-curves. I’ve finally turned right, but how did four cars come between me and my little red Texas truck?
5:15 p.m. Stopped on Seventh.5:16 p.m. Stopped on Seventh.5:17 p.m. Stopped on Seventh.5:18 p.m. Victory! I’ve finally turned left! Now I know how Derek Zoolander felt when he saved the prime minister of Malaysia from the evil Mugatu. I’m actually moving again, but I’m running wheel-to-wheel with a hippie-looking bicyclist as I cross Castle Creek bridge.5:19 p.m. Victory was sweet but short. I’m stopped by the Cemetery Lane stoplight, and the longhaired cyclist speeds past.5:20 p.m. Pole position serves me well, as I race away from the pack and actually shift into second gear. I speed past our walker, Jeanne, on my right – she almost beat me to the roundabout, but not quite. The traffic gods smile on me, as I coast through the roundabout with no interference.
It is short-lived. I exit the roundabout in slow motion. My speedometer doesn’t register speeds this low.5:21 p.m. I catch up to the hippie cyclist at the Maroon Creek bridge.5:22 p.m. I’m across the bridge. Traffic is thin and I reach 42 mph. I think I’m actually speeding. And I’m in the HOV lane – what are the hours on this thing again?5:25 I reach the ABC. It’s taken 25 minutes to drive 3.6 miles – for a whopping average speed of 8.64 mph. Sadly, this is a good time. On my way back to town, I see that the roundabout is now clogged, and there’s nary a gap to be found between cars. If we’d started the race a half-hour later, I would be one of them.