Frequent visitor and commenter Steve A has described a "line of sweetness" on his blog, which is the line he likes to ride in when taking the lane. I would like to claim that I was experimenting with lane position and taking video like Keri and Mighk did recently, but the truth is that during a mental/riding lapse I discovered what I consider the "line of sourness" yesterday morning on my way to work. I don't normally ride the "line of sourness". I'll show you what happens in a second, but first, a picture to make clear where these lines are:
Steve A's visage used without permission. I hope he's not the litigious type...
As you can see, I wasn't hugging or riding in the gutter at all. What happens when you ride the line of sourness is that most cars see you and straddle lanes to pass. The trouble is that the odd car will try to pass you within the lane. In the video that follows, you'll see how close that can be and hear my reaction, a reaction I must say I'm rather proud of:
Did you hear that? No profanity, reasonably calm. No hand gestures either, by the way. I am getting better at finding my road zen. I have a pretty high tolerance for close passing, but that was too close even for me. Video from the bars makes all cars look close, but that white car had to be about 6 inches away and was moving fast. Cyclists often complain about being "buzzed"; unlike some I'm not convinced it is something most drivers do out of hostility. I think many treat the painted line like a wall, and if their car will fit between me and it, even by a small margin, they will drive through that gap. I wouldn't do it now, of course, but when I was young and stupid, I did it too. It had nothing to do with any animosity toward cyclists and everything to do with an overconfidence in my ability and a desire to go fast.
I don't think it is fair to rant and rave about people doing something I've done myself, whether it was eons ago or not. That's why the arguments made against a "culture of speed" really appeal to me. They attempt to address root causes rather than just calling individual people mean names.
I find the centre of most lanes I use every bit as good as the rest (not usually rough or oily) and for me, that is probably my own personal line of sweetness.