The Law of Gross Tonnage

The Law of Gross Tonnage

The law of gross tonnage is usually thought of in terms of the maritime world—an unwritten, yet accepted nautical law that has everything to do with common sense: “If it’s bigger than you are, get out of the way.”

As bicyclists we, too, have this law. Together my bike and I weigh well-less than 200 pounds. A car—even a small one—weighs a heck of a lot more! In the state of Illinois it’s a law that vehicles passing a cyclist must give them at least 3 feet of space.

It’s a nice law to have on the books, but in our real-life experience, sometimes we’re lucky if we get 3 inches. But when push comes to shove, regardless of the written law, the unwritten, yet accepted law of bicyclists dictates, “If it’s bigger than you are, get out of the way.”

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.”
Albert Einstein

“Life is like a ten speed bicycle. Most of us have gears we never use.”
Charles M. Schulz

“Whenever I see an adult on a bicycle, I have hope for the human race.”
H.G. Wells

“I thought of that while riding my bicycle.”
Albert Einstein on the theory of relativity

“Nothing compares to the simple pleasure of riding a bike.”
John F. Kennedy

“Chasing records doesn’t keep me on my bike. Happiness does.”
Lance Armstrong after his third Tour de France victory

“Melancholy is incompatible with bicycling.”
James E. Starrs (sometimes referred to as the father of Indiana Jones)

Wasps don’t adhere to the law of gross tonnage. Even though we weigh thousands of times more than they do, they’ll still chase a bicyclist down and sting him right through his glove!

Wasps Don't Adhere to the Law of Gross Tonnage

Listen with your heart,

Laurie Buchanan

Whatever you are not changing, you are choosing.”
               – Laurie Buchanan
Copyright © 2010 Laurie Buchanan — All Rights Reserved.

14 thoughts on “The Law of Gross Tonnage

    • Jeff – I’m fairly confident that we’ll need a “bee whisperer” (or something along those lines) for that! Either that, or an awful lot of smoke to calm them down (like beekeepers use). I don’t think smoke makes them comatose, but it acts like somewhat of a tranquilizer so the beekeeper can work without getting stung.

    • Sandi – I remember your hornet sting earlier this summer, on your face – right above the bridge of your glasses. That was some really nasty business! After your experience, we did a bit of research and discovered “Sting-Kill Disposable Swabs” which we now keep in our firstaid kit. And that turned out to be a very good thing, indeed!

  1. Adventures in Biking in Laurie World! Whenever I pass a bicyclist, I try to give them a huge margin because you never know what is going to happen. I do the same with wasps and hornets. And I always vote for bike paths!

    • Barbara – I’m always grateful for drivers who give us a wide berth. I make sure to do the same as a driver. I’ll be the first one to admit that there are a lot of irresponsible cyclists out there, but their actions don’t speak for the rest of us. Likewise, there are a lot of irresponsible drivers, and their actions don’t speak for the rest of us.

      I always vote for well-maintained bike paths too — that’s an area I don’t mind my tax dollars feeding.

  2. Ouch is right. About 35 years ago I had a wasp go down my neck just as I went into a corner at high speed on a gravel road. By the time I got straightened up and stopped there was a line of about 30 stings down my neck, across my chest and abdomen.
    Not fun.
    My sympathies.

    • Ted – That sounds absolutely hideous! I can’t even begin to imagine the pain involved in that incident – sheesh! I read your “poster” to Len and he laughed himself silly.

  3. I think wasps more follow a poster I recall from my teenage years:
    “Yeah though I walk through the valley of the shadow of Death, I shall fear no evil.
    For I am the meanest son of a bitch in the Valley.”


  4. Good morning, Laurie! Has your wasp bite subsided? Last year I was doing a good samaritan deed and trying to let a wasp outside. It had somehow gotten in while I was cleaning green onions. The pesky small tonnage creature didn’t obey and stung me instead. And then I started getting a thin red line going up my arm. Ended up having to go the doctor and get antibiotics. A very very odd incident.

    It seems like biking would be dangerous because of the tonnage challenge. And drivers who are careless. Wishing you at least a foot of room at all times!

    • Kathy – A thin red line going up your arm (or leg) is a good indication of blood poisoning. Good grief! Thankfully, Len didn’t get anything like that with his sting, and it’s all healed now. We try to do most of our biking on bike trails, that eliminates the worry of motorists. There are times when we find ourselves on a patch of road (can be for up to a mile at a time) and that’s when things get a little close for comfort.

      On the 12th of September, we’re registered for a large organized ride — the Harmon Hundred. It starts at Wilmot in Wisconson. That will be done on the road, but there will be hundreds and hundreds of cyclists and the 100 mile patch of road will be blocked off to cars and there will be lots of police to make sure that cars stay out. Bicyclists can opt to do 25, 50, 75, or 100 — we’re doing 50, and looking forward to it.

  5. In the case of a wasp vs. a bicyclist (you), should I ever find myself in a similar position, I’d be running red lights to get away from the little bug. I’m terrified by them due to a bad experience when I was six. But I did enjoy this post, it was well done. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.