Saturday, May 27, 2006

Sunday Cycling in Guadalajara, continued

The four-lane street with a succession of names – Avenida Vallarta, Juarez, and Javier Mina -- is closed to all motor vehicles on Sundays from 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM. It fills to the edges with cyclists of all ages on bicycles of all sizes. Other non-motorized wheels are welcome, though I saw only one skateboard and two roller skaters in the two or three hours I spent there.

Riding along with Lucy, it became clear that she was in charge of a fleet of individuals that dotted the route with their shirts of orange, the logo color of the project. I learned that the crew consisted of two groups – paid staff such as herself, and volunteers, many of whom were put in charge of directing traffic at the cross-streets to prevent collisions with car drivers not used to looking out for bicycles. Everyone involved carried a radio, and Lucy interrupted herself often to talk into hers.

The route is almost completely flat except for where it dips under a main street and up the other side. Approaching the underpass, the cyclist adrenalin anticipates the thrill of the hill, and one prepares to ride like a loco on the down to propel an effortless coast up the other side. But that instinct was nipped in the bud as Lucy and other orange-clad patrollers began pointing at riders with this same idea and ordering them off their bicycles. I looked around and realized that except for these few dissenters everyone had dismounted! Right at the funnest part! AAAK!

But I have to admit they were right. Even though riders stayed on their side of the road, hundreds of cyclists of all sizes and levels careening down the hill at all different speeds was a pile-up waiting to happen. It was hard, though. Nothing like a good downhill, and this was the only one available.

Lucy was quick to correct any errant adolescents she spotted engaging in other misbehaviors as well, such as riding without hands. “You’re going to fall! You’re going to fall!” she’d shout, pointing at them as we rode past. No one questioned or defied her authority, least of all the rider beside her who loves to sit back on the bike and sail along with no hands.

I stopped on our way under to take a picture of it. Lucy is standing there in the middle wearing the white and orange shirt, holding our bikes and her radio.
And here are the riders coming out the other side, about to get back on their bikes.


At 12:23 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for the account and pictures.


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