Travelling with a bicycle is necessarily associated with spending a good portion of the time on the road. I will not go as far as stating that from early morning since I’m not what you would call an early bird, until late evening since I prefer to find a spot to sleep while there is still daylight so I’m able to see where I’ll sleep. Nevertheless a good portion of the day I do spend on the road. And on the road I’m not alone. True, sometimes I do get company from animals (mostly as road kill, but there are exemptions), but company (uninvited) of living creatures normally comes in a shape of drivers. Drivers of cars, buses, trucks and all that comes in between. So far I came across Canadian, US, Mexican and Guatemalan drivers.
Generally I could say there is no really substantial difference between them. All of them generally sit behind the wheel of means of transportation of their choice wanting to go from point A to point B alive and kicking. The trick is in the details.
One of the main difference is in the type of transportation they are driving. Truck drivers are professionals. They do know how to handle their machine whether that might be the latest technical wonder or a bunch of metal held together by the stickiness of the black exhaust fumes. They will try to avoid me by as much as they can. Just the sheer size of their vehicle gives them a great chance of survival in a potential head on collision when overtaking me on a blind curve.
The next category are the bus drivers. Here I must add that there weren’t as many in the north (probably because a greater number of people has their own car or two) as they are here in the south. Here they come in all shapes, sizes and ages. From modern, huge Mercedes to mini bus which is just another word for a van. What their drivers have in common is that they are in a rush to get to their destination while at the same time they must frequently stop for passengers to get on and off. Not sure about what is the psychological factor in these drivers, but they seem to be just too eager to whoosh pass by me at a distance I would definitely not call a safe one. Maybe the trick is in the fact that they generally strive to drive by/stop as close as they can to a waiting passenger/person so that this person does not have to cover a large distance to the bus. Hence this person gets to the bus faster and the bus can move on faster and all together make it faster to their goal. It’s just that I’m not waiting for the bus and so there is no need for them to come so close. Who knows?!
The last category I’m going to mention are cars of different sizes (I will not drag this for more than necessary and go into different subcategories based on the car size) and their drivers. These are obviously the most numerous and diverse. From the kind that will, when they catch up with me, slow down and if this is just before a blind curve, wait for an opportunity to safely pass me by. To the kind that will; without reducing their speed, go and overtake me on a blind curve or will on a narrow two lane go and overtake a car that is overtaking me.
Just to make it clear in all three groups there are exceptions. Well, to be more precise, this is valid for the first two groups since, as I have already stated, car drivers are diverse.
Just to point out, once in Mexico I had to go off of the road since I was not sure that the truck driver will stop without hitting me first. He was being overtaken by another truck that might have gone 5 km/h faster than the first one and all this on a narrow two lane road. Or there were occasions when a bus driver, contrary to all my expectations, slowed down before a blind curve and then slowly trailed behind me until he was able to safely overtake me. And yes, this has happened to me also here in Guatemala.
There is one interesting human attribute common to most of these drivers. A substantial number of them feel the urge to overtake me as fast as they can. And the further south I go, the more I get the feeling this urge is reaching the level where they cannot control it. When they catch up with me, they rush past by me. If there is a chance to use the other lane, they will, to different extent, use it. But sometimes there is no such option or they simply cannot be bothered to do it. And it is in these cases when I become really frightened.
Thou to some extent I have managed to adapt. It’s not exactly that I do not get scared when these crazy drivers whoosh by. The difference is that I only get really frightened when they rush by well under half a meter away from me. And as I have said, the further south I am there is more and more of these drivers who’s urge to overtake is uncontrollable. The fact that the further south I go the narrower the roads are, does not really help.
With a Smile on my face, until next time!