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The Ironman Effect: Walker County
How Two Days of Racing Becomes a Year-Long Problem
No one has a problem with the Ironman race. Reasonable people can argue about economic benefits to the region or in Walker County. To residents in the area, it’s an inconvenience for a couple of days of the year, but we can avoid the area. The problem is the rest of the year. The other 363 days of the year when cyclists who, with an apparent disdain for modesty and a quasi-religious commitment to dressing like a sperm for the sake of aerodynamics, take to the roads of the Ironman route as if it's their personal training ground, rain or shine, pushing their bodies--and the patience of local motorists--to the limit.
Thus, we endure a year-round, maddening spectacle. Winding, curving, hilly two-lane roads with narrow shoulders transform into make-shift cycling courses without any of the safety elements present on race day. Speed limits (35-55mph) might as well be invisible. Motorists dutifully obeying the law are often forced to slam on the brakes due to "share the road" statutory nonsense inappropriate to these busy state roads.
Motorists end up stuck behind these pedal-powered dangers and nuisances. Their relief comes either when a window to safely pass opens up or when these lycra-loving exhibitionists shift the misery they inflict from motorists to unsuspecting homeowners who surely love to offer their property up as ad hoc restrooms when nature calls these cyclists.
Residents have had enough. They didn't sign up for this. No one cast a vote for it. No one signed a petition for it. Yet most people would be fine and accept the Ironman race. It's a blip on the radar people can avoid. But not if it means the rest of the year is a series of mini-Ironman races that lack the sanctioned event's safety controls. Enough is enough.