Yes, it’s much better than had I eaten a bug, then “passed” a tractor. Get it? Anyway, peer pressure is an odd phenomenon. We exert it or succumb to it as children, we implore our own kids not to fall victim to it, yet even as adults we sometimes still give in to it.
Bicycles don’t usually pass moving vehicles on the highways, but many of us have dreamed of that moment when pure man and muscle-driven machine out runs an automotive tortoise. Actually, it’s pretty much just a dream.
This week while cycling along my favorite swamp stomping sugarcane road I came up behind a tractor. Now with pre-winter’s gusts beginning to taunt cyclists with what will soon to be constant headwinds, I took solace tucked safely behind this rolling behemoth.
I checked my rearview mirror snuggly attached to the bottom of my carbon fiber handle bars to see a line of cars piled up behind the tractor; and me! A quick look over the shoulder, and the lead car flashed the bright lights signaling to me that it was okay to pass.
Seriously? Ok to pass a moving vehicle. Could it be time to make this dream a reality? I knew better as I was maintaining about a 22 mph pace thanks to the wind cutting draft behind the tractor. But seriously, the car flashed the headlights in a moment of intimate communication between fellow travelers. What else could I do?
I nodded, then jetted out from behind the tractor as pure, unadulterated peer pressure launched my cycling assault into the opposite lane of traffic along this thin ribbon of a roadway.
Peer pressure didn’t help draft from the howling headwinds, but here I was; trapped alongside the lumbering obstacle and a line of “brother and sister” motorists who encouraged and entrusted me to lead the passing parade around this sugarcane harvester.
Igniting an explosion at over 28 mph my legs churned while my lungs seared and I soon overtook the green giant. Immediately, I was overtaken by six impatient motorists and not one waved with a notion of gratitude for my effort.
Yes, peer pressure made me do it. Unfortunately, peer pressure was not stopping the moving machinery that began closing the gap between his front end loader and my rear deep-dish carbon wheel.
It was solely the power of embarrassment, ego and fear that fueled the next several miles at an elevated speed to save either getting passed or ploughed by the unimpressed tractor driver. He had work to do, and a living to make. I had an early sunset to beat back home.
Oddly enough, the return trip was uneventful with an absence of obstacles to overcome; moving or otherwise. Then in a quiet, self-affirming celebration of average pace per mile and hour, I sat up from my tightly tape-wrapped handlebars and stretched my back.
The moment my mouth opened to say, “Yea!” I was struck by what I later learned to be a dragonfly. How did I learn its species identity? After embedding itself into my mouth, and involuntarily biting it almost in half, I looked at it before tossing it to the road.
What did I learn that bike trip:
1 – Don’t fall for peer pressure
2 – Don’t be so quick to celebrate yourself
3 – Don’t bite dragonflies in half
4 – Yes, dreams can come true – I passed a tractor!
What has peer pressure “made” you do lately?
Peer Pressure: I passed a tractor & ate a bug