Thursday, August 02, 2007

"car back"

the local cycling community's been rocked by news of another cycling fatality on the local highway that runs between delaware's beaches. a 18yo fell asleep at the wheel and plowed into a cyclist who'd stopped on the shoulder to fix his chain. that area's claimed a lot of cyclists -- dr. fellows was struck nearby -- because drivers are looking for cops, turnoffs to a friend's timeshare, kids crossing the road and hotties in bikinis in front of the Bottle & Cork. there's so much going on that a cyclist barely registers on the radar. especially if you're asleep at the wheel.

as a result, it's easy for cyclists to distrust and fear drivers; sometimes that distrust and fear ferments into agression. i've watched perfectly mellow people froth at the mouth and grow spiky points when confronted with a dickweed driver. case in point is my friend JB, a seasoned ex-pro worth considerable dinero i think, so dude's got a lot to lose by going up against something a ton or two bigger than him.

last week when JB and i were riding up THE ROAD I LIVE ON and a car behind us began laying on the horn, J pulled out and rode the center line so the driver couldn't pass us on the twisty, narrow road without taking the oncoming lane into a blind curve. the driver's reaction was... predictable and we were treated to a torrent of abuse when he finally passed us on a straight section.

-- you almost got to see JB in rare form – J boasted, his chest puffing with pride. if you'd tested him right then i bet his testosterone levels would have gotten him kicked out of the Tour. when something like that happens i like to get in the middle of the road, come to a complete stop and check my front brakes, rear brakes, saddlebag, spokes, everything. then i “discover” that my rear brakes are rubbing and wave gratefully at the driver (who's been seething behind me) and “thank” him for pointing out my brake issue.

- that's great, J. the next time that guy sees a lone rider on this road, he's gonna take out his frustrations from today. and chances are that lone rider will be me.

- oh, he won't be on this road again.

whatever, numbnuts. i'll be watching my back for a while.

monday afternoon, as a delightful blustery tailwind pushed me down Doe Run road, i sensed a car coming up behind me. it slowed and then motored beside me. i edged further away, shoulders braced for the impact of a beer bottle or stream of invectives, but when nothing came, i looked through the open passenger window at the driver, a burly bearded man in his 40s.

- hey – he said – i hope you get home before the thunderstorm. he smiled and then pulled away smoothly. when i rolled up the driveway 5min later, the sky was banding in shades of glowering gradients of black and gray, and 15minutes later the rain came sheeting down.

so, they're not all bad.

5 comments:

fatmammycat said...

Is J also the chap who bawled that woman out when ran the stop sign in her truck? At a roundabout?

finn said...

that would be the venerable E, another mild-mannered individdle prone to the Warp-Spasm during face-offs with vehicular belligerence.

good memory tho.

Brown Suga' said...

Um ... I did the EXACT same thing once when I was cycling to high school and this idiot bus driver was trying to overtake me despite the roads being slushy from the rain. I got pissed off and passed right in front of him. He honked his horn loudly and veered slightly to the other side.

I was a freakin' idiot, because:

1) I had an attituder two sizes too big for my 14-year-old brain;

2) The bus driver, like most Indian bus drivers, was an asshole who imagined he was driving his private Suzuki Habasuya;

3) It's more common to die in a road accident here, than anything else. It's the leading cause of death for most tame elephants. :(

addon said...

take care finn.

finn said...

point taken adam; thanks. :)

subh, pls explain to this craven american what tame elephants are doing on/near roadways. you bring such a different, refreshing perspective.