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Joanne Sherman says: Oh, no, the bicyclists are back on Shelter Island

You knew they were coming, right? You’ve had plenty of time to prepare, so stop complaining. I’m not talking to you. This is me talking to me, giving myself that annual pep talk. And I’m not complaining, really, it’s more like whining. I’m from Ohio, that’s what we do there. We’re famous for it.

Anyhow, back to bicycles. Before you jump to conclusions, some of my best friends ride bicycles, so I can honestly state that I am not anti-bicycle. I am merely anti-Idiot!

I actually don’t like that word and I seldom use it, but sometimes Idiot! is the only appropriate word. Here’s an example — it’s a perfect fit for the guy riding his bicycle through the Center with a bare-headed toddler perched on his shoulders.

The adult was laughing, the kid was laughing, but I was so not laughing. I had to pull off to the side of the road because I was hyper-ventilating myself into what felt like a minor heart and/or gallbladder attack.

Bicycle enthusiasts claim that this quaint little island with its quaint little roads is the ideal place to ride. We, who actually live in Quaintland, routinely driving hither and yon, beg to differ. 

We know these roads, but they don’t, and that’s not because they’re idiots! — they aren’t. They’re innocents, which is how I think of them now. Not only that, when I come upon an innocent, I transform from a whiny misplaced Ohioan to a vigilant road warrior-slash-protector. I even have a motto: You are another mother’s child and I, another child’s mother, shall protect you. I shall be your dragon. (Sorry, I’ve been binging on “Game of Thrones” this past week. And, crazy coincidence, just like Queen Daenerys, I am the mother of dragons.)

My dragons, when they were little, rode bicycles and the one unbreakable rule was “NO RIDING ON 114.” Carved in stone, it was the 11th commandment. I didn’t care if they crossed peoples lawns and ignored no-trespassing signs, they had to stay off that 4.4 mile-road.

Our older son was a Lieutenant Commander in the navy, part of an anti-submarine warfare squadron, and when he came home to visit, he was still not allowed to ride his bike on 114.

Now, a retired commander, he rides his bike in some third-world country in Africa with mercenaries hiding in the woods, but that’s O.K., because in my mind, it’s still safer than 114.

And while I’m on the subject — 40 mph on a narrow two-lane road with curves, no shoulders and on-coming traffic that routinely crosses over the yellow line at every opportunity? Oh yes, and deer and turtles and let’s not leave out those freakin’ turkeys. Now throw in confused bicyclists, the ones who stop, in a group, on a curve, to try to figure out north from south on their upside-down map.

Don’t get me started, but we’re almost through June, so it’s too late!

During a recent encounter, I found myself behind an innocent on a bicycle who was not skilled at riding with Gatorade in one hand and a cellphone in the other, so he was doing that infamous bicycle wobble we’ve all come to recognize. When I end up behind that type of rider, I stay behind. I do not pass nor do I get so close that they start to look over their shoulders, thereby increasing the wobble factor by 100%.

I become, in a sense, their unpaid protector, because I’m retired and that’s a good job for me now.

It’s not just bicyclists, I’ll  protect motorcyclists, too. I will not, ever, pass someone who’s going too slow. Unfortunately, though I’m trying to do what I think is the right thing, that makes the slow mover incredibly nervous and it makes the person behind me incredibly agitated. I can tell.

There’s a lot more bird flipping than birds flapping around here during bicycle season. And FYI: “!!!rac ‘niffe rouy evoM” is pretty easy to figure out, even if you’re not trained in backwards rearview-mirror lip reading.

So, be warned, dear reader. My car is a dusty Ford, with an orange (go Bucks!) Shelter Island magnet and the beach sticker taped to the bumper. I’m sorry if you get stuck behind me. I do see you beating on your steering wheel. I don’t care.

I do hear you beeping. Beep all you want and wave your fist out the window. I’m going to smile and wave back, like we’re old friends. What I’m not doing is driving around a motorcyclist in the rain or a  bicyclist on a curve, and especially not a school-aged wobbler who doesn’t know the 11th commandment.

And to other mothers (and fathers) of dragons and wobblers: I’ve got your back.