The Midnight Special, courtesy of Hellgate Cyclery
Bicycle season in Missoula is a long time coming, but when it arrives it’s worth the wait. The former site of a glacial lake, Missoula is remarkably flat with hills on either end of town. Humidity is desert-low all summer, and it’s rarely windy. Best of all, the town has lots of bike trials, which intersect with car traffic only at intervals. All you have to do is pull up to the place where the trail meets the street, stop, and then watch as cross traffic also stops and motions you impatiently ahead. Then fly into a rage.
Now that bicycle season is upon us, I have one message for the drivers of Missoula: If I have come to a complete stop, do not also stop.
I know you are scared of killing me. And I forgive you for the summer of 2014, when you hit me twice—once by turning left through the bike lane and once by backing into me in the grocery store parking lot. It’s okay, despite what I said in those intemperate moments after I was unhorsed. While collisions between bicycles and cars are dangerous, they are also uncommon. When you see a bicycle stopped at a stop sign, it’s safe to take your right of way. To stop and wave the cyclist ahead is like stopping at a door held open and saying, “no, after you.”
You can read my desperate plea in this week’s column for the Independent, which contains lots of grisly images of bicycle accidents. Not photographic images, though. That would be unseemly. We’ll be back tomorrow with Friday links!
I came to Montana from Iowa by way of New York City. Two of those places discourage staring. When I began to think that a larger-than-usual number of strangers in Montana’s restaurants, shops, and passing vehicles were staring at me, I came to the reasonable conclusion: I was insane. Because I am a crazy person, I think people are staring at me when all they want is to eat pancakes with their weird families. As a rule, when you move someplace and develop theories about what people are like there, you are wrong. But then I read this profile of Montana travel author Russell Rowland implying “the stare” is a thing:
Rowland said during one of his favorite interviews, Fallon County farmer Jerry Sikorski invited him to smell his soil. Others, mostly people in tiny eastern Montana towns, gave him “the stare.”
“Those who encounter ‘the stare’ should not panic,” Rowland wrote. “Although at first glance, the stare suggests that you might want to turn around and go back to your car, the explanation is pretty simple. The stare comes from seeing the same 25 or 30 people day after day for the past five or 10 years.”
That was my explanation, too: as population density goes down, the social acceptability of eyeballing me in the laundromat goes up. But this explanation boils down to “they’re staring because they’re rubes.” I don’t want to think that.
He is also probably gay.
It’s Halloween, and instead of candy, a person the Atlantic describes as “an outspoken woman in North Dakota” plans to give overweight trick-or-treaters notes for their parents explaining that they are fat. Not the parents—the kids are fat in this scenario, although it’s likely that everyone in their family has similar eating habits, and the kid probably only went as a pumpkin/Jabba the Hutt/Honda Civic because a combination of genetics and environment have made him obese at an age when he has almost zero control over his daily routine or health. But fuck that. Your kid is fat. You sent him out for candy, and he came home with shame. Also probably a lot of candy, since not everyone in North Dakota is a relentless bitch.
The Hawkeyes start off one and three again.
Combat! blog is hustling to make its train this morning—trains! east coast! food that employs seasonings!—so I have to use one half of my ass to pack. But don’t worry—the other half is completely devoted to this post. Those of us who have spent the weekend with Iowans were thrilled* at the news that Ellen Lewin, anthropology professor at our beloved U of I, responded to a campus-wide email from college Republicans with an outburst of profanity. In case you’re wondering, A) “F*** you!” means “Fuck you!” and B) I know because I was somehow able to crack Raw Story’s complex cipher and C) “responded to a campus-wide email” means “hit reply all.” Ellen Lewin is fifty. She is also in trouble, despite having issued the world’s most petulant non-apology.