Monday, May 16, 2005

Getting hassled on the road bike

Got hassled today on the road bike by a car. Was climbing back into town on one of the main back entrances into Blacksburg. Harding Road. Should have gone up Nellies Cave which has less traffic at this time of day. Approaching 5pm, so people are leavinig and others are coming into town. It's the kind of hill w/o a lot of sharp turns so cars can fly but there are still plenty of blind spots on it.

I was at a point in the climb where there was a straight a way and there were no cars cominig down, and this old Dodge Caravan with woody sides and a bunch of paint splattered ladders comes past me and the passenger yells something to me.

He either yelled

or he yelled

Wow, you must be a real cool neo-pro rider on your lugged steel and with your Exte Ondo jersey, full finger gloves, and DMT Euro pro shoes with a visor helmet. Can I get your autograph?

No clue why he was bagging on me cause I didn't make them slow down because no one else was coming down and he could pass w/o a problem.

Now there is nothing special about getting yelled at, but then when he had past me he starts to pull over into the shoulder that I was climbing in. Either I was going to have to come to a complete stop, try and walk around him on the grass/gravel, or go around him in the driving lane. Luckily there was a car right behind him that started to honk and give the What's up moron two arm salute. So he kept going. But man, I don't know what I was going to do. Hell if I was going to walk around them or ride in the drive lane to have them gun it behind me. I probably would have just come to a stop and waited, maybe pull out the phone.... I'm gonna tell on you... Just like grade school.

Gut reaction is to flip the one fingered salute. But come on I've got two kids and a wife and don't need to get the crap kicked out of me by some red neck painters. Besides what am I going to do, come at them brandishing my custom painted Silca frame pump in one hand, and spray them with icy cold air with my C02 cartridge in the other.. all 135lbs of me hobbling at them in cycling shoes? And besides after leaving the Shaolin temple all those years ago I vowed to never hurt another human being.

Episodes like this which go beyond the typical drive by/honk, which require that premeditated let's mess with this guy thought process always leave me feeling terrible. Any focus for riding hard goes out the window. First thought is hyper vigilance looking around every corner to see if they have parked and are waiting for me like what happened one time with a pickup that had backed off the road and was hidden behind some bushes so that when I rode by they laid on the horn scaring the crap out of me.

Normally I'm a pretty nice person wishing ill to very few. But when things like this happen the rest of my ride is filled with all the fantasies of being an omnipotent demi god and the deeds that I would do unto them. Being Drew Barrymore from Fire starter and unleashing cheap special effect firebombs at them and disintegrating their vehicle into ashes.

Seeinig their vehicle parked somewhere and slashing the tires or keying it. and on and on. Wishing I was a navy seal and could kill with my pinky.

Actually I am surprised at the rarity that I get hassled on the road bike, especially given my nationality and the fact that this is rural VA. But there are several reasons why I think.
1) I almost always ride alone. And I have no issue with pulling into the grass or gravel to let a car on their way. Sooner they get on with their life sooner I can get on with mine.
2) I wave almost all the time, to oncoming cars and to passing cars. When on the back roads I am in their world. And if you belong on those roads, you wave. And when you wave first, it automatically puts them in the position that they have to wave back or they are being rude. Plus I hope that waving at someone will make them think twice when the come on the next cyclist, whether it is me months later or someone else. Amazes me that so few other cyclists wave. On any group rides I've been on with the local club or other local teams I'm the lone fool waving at cars.
3) I try my hardest to get out of blind corners/blind hills ASAP. Or at least to get to a point where I can look for oncoming cars and either put my hand out to warn a passing car or to wave them on. Waving them on automatically makes you the good guy. I am much more comfortable being a cyclist on a back road being passed by cars than being a driver and passing cyclists. I have no clue how these local drivers have such good Xray vision or the ability to see the future. Because they pass me sometimes on blind corners/blind hills going 50mph halfway or even full in the other lane. How in the world do they know no one is coming. I hate driving behind a group of cyclists on the back roads. Hell if I am going to try and pass w/o clear sight of oncoming cars.

Oh well, one of the on the job hazzards I guess. Will be smarter about choosing a better time to be on that road


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