Conway Twitty released a great song in the late ’70s or early ’80s called “Don’t Call Him a Cowboy.” The lyrics stated, in part:
Don’t call him a cowboy until you’ve seen him ride.
That Stetson hat and them fancy boots don’t tell you what’s inside,
And if he ain’t good in the saddle, then you won’t be satisfied,
So don’t call him a cowboy until you’ve seen him ride.
I thought of this song this evening after taking Songdog for a training run on the river trail.
At least a half-dozen times, I watched people in spandex outfits and color-coordinated helmets send Song into a blind panic by flying past him on their bikes at top speed with no warning whatsoever.
These so-called cyclists were obviously trying to project an image. They had their fancy racing bikes and their fancy helmets and their fancy outfits, and they were trying their best to look like serious athletes … but it was painfully obvious that they hadn’t spent enough time on the trail to learn even the most basic concepts of etiquette and safety.
If they had, they would have known that three little words — “on your left” — will do wonders to protect a pair of joggers (one on two legs, one on four) from potential injury and certain annoyance.
Three little words would give me time to put just a wee bit more tension on the leash and say my dog’s name in a firm tone to calm his lingering fear of having wheeled objects speed past him at close proximity (a fear that has been with him since the day almost three years ago when a car hit him and sent him rolling into my neighbor’s yard).
Three little words would help me keep Song at heel where he belongs.
Instead, the staunch refusal to utter those three little words sent my sweet collie mix slamming into me in raw terror, tripping me and sometimes knocking me off the trail, every single time anybody on a bicycle passed us from behind.
Here’s a clue: You can put on your fancy “serious cyclist” costume and ride up and down the busiest half-mile of Tulsa’s 20-some-odd-mile-long trail system at top speed to show off your high-end racing bike all you want, but if you’re not going to follow that trail’s universally accepted safety procedures, you might as well have baseball cards clothespinned to your spokes, because it’s obvious to anyone unfortunate enough to have to share the trail with you that you are nothing more than a silly poser in a silly outfit.
I’m sorry, but I’m not calling you a cyclist. I’ve seen you ride.