I had a great ride home today, a perfectly beautiful day with the low sun, clear sky, and cool air to breathe in deeply.
But not too deeply. Atlanta stinks, big time. Lately I've noticed that my throat is a little dry and scratchy, and it's been more pronounced since getting home. I also noticed that there is a great disparity in what is apparently acceptable exhaust for different cars in Atlanta. Perhaps it's different requirements for different years, or perhaps people are incredibly dishonest when it comes to emissions testing. Whatever the cause, it makes getting stuck at every light (which invariably happens at rush hour) a real drag, literally. It's like sucking on a tailpipe every stop, and it only improves marginally when the offending vehicle pulls away, because that crap does not dissipate very quickly. I found myself covering my mouth with my glove or arm for most of the lights because the stink and smell was so bad. There is no such alternative when actually riding and getting stuck behind such a vehicle over the course of several miles.
All this to say I'm considering using dust masks or bandannas to cover my nose and mouth on these downtown excursions, because I was nauseous after only 36 minutes in varying levels of traffic and exhaust. I was surprised that I wasn't coughing up black or breathing sooty air.
Besides the soot, Atlanta is still pretty smelly. Riding the path near the Highlands got me out of the exhaust channels (for the most part) but introduced a strong, strangely rubber cement-smelling stink that lasted for a while.
Then, of course, the smell of fish fry and hipsters in L5P. It was a long day.
I really do like riding, but this is ridiculous. I totally believe the study that found that people who commuted to work outdoors, because of the exposure and increased breathing rate, had more pollutants in their lungs (in ppm) than motorists. I feel like I ate a block of coal today.