Exception to the Rule
In "A Trail of Rage" [May 25], John Briley demonstrates the attitude so prevalent in our society today of feeling he is an exception to the rule. Does the fact that he breaks the rule infrequently make the act acceptable? Many people today feel the rules apply to others, but not to themselves.
Briley and his friend ignored the jogger's earlier warning, just as they ignored the park rule. The jogger took a stand when he encountered them the second time and used pepper spray. There is probably more to the story, but the writer shifts the focus from his infraction to that of the jogger. This ploy of shifting blame in a situation is also common today. Teachers hear it from students and parents all the time.
I can image that if Briley was able to so effortlessly rationalize that it is okay for him to regularly break this park rule, then he might easily have rationalized or slightly adjusted his story about how the altercation began. Specifically I wonder if maybe the hiker in question had his hand up in a relatively friendly but insistent manner, and was possibly saying, "Please hold up," to make sure the bikers understood that bikes were prohibited there. And if his decision was to ride right through the hiker, I'd say that probably Mr. Briley's hurt ankle and bruised rib were deserved.
Briley calls the hiker a coward, but this lone man with "[not] much in the way of muscles" was willing to stand in front of two bikers who may have run right over him, depending on what the real truth was. If it says no bikes, don't ride your bike there.
The basic information in the story detailing rules of etiquette on multi-use public trails is helpful, but the whole article is so infused with Briley's unmitigated arrogance that it almost belies the point he is trying to make: "Can't we all just get along on multi-use trails?"
He assumes that somehow he has the right to break rules and use trails off-limits to his mountain bike at his whim and desire. He admits his illegal behavior but rationalizes it in many ways (unleashed dogs are worse, horses do more damage to trails, he himself slows politely in passing hikers, etc.).
Thank goodness Briley's encounter with the jogger resentful at his illegal behavior has led him to stick to unrestricted trails. But too bad he would not heed verbal admonition so that it took violence to bring him into conformity with rules.
What happened to Briley was not an "assault" but "vigilante justice." The jogger with the pepper spray did not want to harm the illegal bikers, he wanted to administer a lesson that would make them think twice before breaking the law again.
I know I deal with similar emotions when I encounter bikers on the sidewalk in Washington, because I know who will end up with the broken bones if there is a collision: the pedestrian.
Briley is either the most clueless biker alive, or typical of so many thoughtless people who think the rules don't apply to them. He says he frequently goes mountain biking in Rock Creek Park. He knows it's illegal -- but hey, so what? And then he is shocked -- shocked! -- when an irate jogger attacks him with pepper spray.
He seems offended, ignoring the greater offense of his being there in the first place. He must be related to the bikers on the C&O Canal who frequently startle me on my walks, speeding by without warning, despite park regulations that require a warning bell or some other notice well before passing.
Guess I better get some pepper spray!
Charles B. Saunders Jr.
Thank you, Mr. Pepper Spray, for teaching this boor a lesson -- and additionally for showing us all how vulnerable we are when people think the rules are for others and not for them.
P. Gaylord Cascio
Another Word About 30-Minute Workouts
With regards to "30 Minutes and Out" [May 18] and the rebuttal presented by Jim Gasson of Alexandria, several points may be made:
The 30-minute workout or any circuit training environment, be it for a woman or man who has been leading a sedentary lifestyle, will produce benefits in the short run.
No one in the fitness industry challenges that fact. In fact, there has been some amazing research with a wide variety of individuals that has proven that strength training at any age can reap benefits.
It has also been proven that once the body adapts to a set routine, the stimulus needs to be changed. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, including adding an additional set, varying the speed or increasing the weight.
I agree, but respectfully disagree with Gasson's analysis that you can simply increase the speed of movement on the hydraulic machine to increase resistance. Doing so places the client at risk of injury, and no strength training protocol should ever cause injury to an individual. The faster you go on this type of equipment, the more likely that you will have to cheat in the movement, and once you start cheating the movement, the individual is placed at a greater risk of injury.
My recommendation: If you're leading a sedentary lifestyle, do something -- walk, run, bike, work out at a Curves or any other fitness center -- but get moving.