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Come On, Dude!

March 11, 2010

In my probably-short-lived effort to turn my piercing gaze upon myself, I’d like to relate a story I’m not too proud of that happened during yesterday’s road ride.

To set the stage, it was windy yesterday.  We – myself and my friend Teresa (happy birthday, Teresa!) – were riding directly into the wind leaving town.  We were on a major-ish county road with a three-foot shoulder, riding side-by-side into the wind.

Behind us, a white Ford truck honked, then brushed by us very closely, with a completely wide-open road.

This is a routine experience for any roadie.

“That fucking bastard!” I said, and started riding faster, fantasizing of throwing a rock through his back windshield, then kicking his legs into the door as he tried to get out, pulling him out, stomping on his head, and lobbing his keys into a field.

But it’s cool.  These things always happen out on the fringes of town where you get your road user demographics mixed up.

By the time we got to the canyon where our ride really started, the wind had thankfully let up, and we were enjoying our cruise up the easy gradient.

The wind wasn’t blowing us back down the canyon, but it was still gusting around enough that we couldn’t hear an older Nissan pickup with Tennessee plates coming up from behind as we climbed one steep section out of the saddle.

“Come on, dude!” the passenger yelled at me, despite having a completely wide-open road to maneuver around us on.

This re-infuriated me and I started sprinting the little climb, hoping to catch up to the guy and tell him to “get the fuck out of Colorado you fucking hillbilly piece of fucking shit!  I WILL FUCKING KILL YOU!”

Teresa, meanwhile, seemed fairly calm about it all.

“That’s road biking,” or something, is what she likely said.  But I couldn’t hear her.  I spent the next ten miles ruminating about the grave injustice that had been committed and planning how I would get back at the Nissan with Tennessee plates.

The thing that made me more mad at the Nissan than I was about the white Ford was the fact that I expected the white Ford driver to be a republican, anti-bike redneck.

But the Nissan passenger was obviously an outdoorsman-type.  The Nissan was a humble truck, that sounded like it might have even been a four-cylinder.  And the bumper stickers struck my subconscious as being those of a rock climber or something.

Rock climbers!  That’s who those fucking asshole are!

One of My Undisclosed Northern Colorado Front Range College Town’s best-known climbing spots is up the Undisclosed River Canyon.

I’ll be you those fucking bastards are at the Palace!

My first strategy was to kick their ass.  But after thinking about how big the passenger was, remembering the inherent upper-body strength of rock climbers compared to 135-lb. cyclists, I decided against it.  Then I considered writing them an angry note:

Share the road and we’ll share our state.  Respect cyclists or go back to Tennessee!

Then I sort of forgot about it.

Finally, though, we got to the Palace, and sure enough!  The Nissan with the Tennessee plates!

Without thinking, I hocked up as much phlegm as I could in a few hundred feet of riding.  I pulled up to the unoccupied truck, exclaimed “motherfucker,” and spat the loogie dead-center onto his driver’s-side window, pausing for a second to watch saliva run down to the bottom seal.

That ought to teach him a lesson.

“You know you don’t have to do that,” Teresa said.

Her words broke straight through my tiny, stupid victory.

“Fuck, man, I know that.  Can’t you just let me win?”

“Well, that doesn’t do any good for bike-car relations.”

Teresa was right.  What I did was stupid.

The Nissan rock climber bro, if he even noticed the loogie, probably wasn’t won over by my argument of spitting on his car.  He probably just thinks that cyclists are douchebags.  And since he probably drives up Undisclosed River Canyon regularly to climb, he’ll probably be an asshole to other cyclists later – maybe people I know.

And I had to spend the next hour feeling guilty and wondering if the next car coming up from behind was the Nissan with Tennessee plates, coming to retaliate even harder.

Meanwhile, the road that I thought was “my road, and you out-of-state rednecks should get the hell off of it.”  The road that the Nissan driver thought was “my road and you fucking slow-ass bikefags should get the fuck out of the middle of it.”  The road didn’t give a shit either way.

I’m going to stop spitting on cars.  It doesn’t do any good.  It just makes everyone feel worse.  And I’m never justified in doing it (unless someone REALLY needs me to clean a spot off their windshield someday).

Maybe the driver of the Nissan with Tennessee plates should take his own advice.

“Come on, dude!”

But maybe I should take his advice too.

I think that we all need to “come on, dude!”

Come on, dude!  Let’s get together and look at our similarities rather than our differences!

Come on, dude!  There’s room for us all on this road!

Come on, dude!  You’re a human being just like me, doing the best you can with nothing more than your own experience and knowledge to guide you – just like me!

Come on, dude!  Come on, dudes!

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17 Comments leave one →
  1. DrunkenGeeBee permalink
    March 11, 2010 3:28 am

    I used to always spit on stretch Hummers. Then someone pointed out to me that I’m just making some chauffeur clean up my sputum.

  2. LoRoK permalink
    March 11, 2010 5:16 am

    I’ve been there so many times. I’m starting to understand that old adage, “would you rather be happy or right?” The more righteous I get about driver/cyclist interactions, the more pissed off I get. The more pissed off I get, the shittier my world is and the more unhappy I find myself. It’s not easy to not be that way, but trying helps. I wish you luck, Bike Fag. Thanks for the post.

  3. Ohiorider permalink
    March 11, 2010 7:13 am

    Great post BikeFag! I’ve been down this road myself and learned a great lesson about cyclist/driver relations. Several years back I was pedaling through a park and some idiot drove by me, flipping me the finger, close enough that I was forced to veer off the road. Rather than spitting on his car later, I quickly grabbed the first rock I seen and hurled it at his car, cracking the rear window.

    Of course he stopped and came back my way. An argument ensued, which turned into push and shove and finally into a full blown fight. After what seemed like hours, we both heard the sound of a siren which startled him more than me and he quickly ran back to his car and sped away, leaving me there with a bloody nose to explain to the park ranger what had happened. Fortunately I was not arrested. They made a report and said they would be looking for the guy, but to this day I still haven’t heard if he was ever found/caught.

    Lesson learned was that as a responsible cyclist, instead of making us all look bad by lowering myself to his level and acting like I did 25 years ago, I should have taken note of his plate number and called him in. Because everytime I think about him and that day, I wonder if there is some maniac out there who now has a personal vendetta against bicyclists. Although I don’t take too much crap from drivers, I am a bit more forgiving these days.

    By the way BikeFag, learned about your blog through BikeSnobNYC and want you to know that I love your blog! Keep up the good work and great posts!

    And a note to LoRok concerning being happy or right. Doggone it, why can’t we be both happy AND right? It’s like when people tell me I can’t my cake and eat it too. What good is cake if you can’t eat it??!!

  4. Crafty permalink
    March 11, 2010 8:47 am

    As someone who cycles, rock climbs, and drives up said Undisclosed Canyon, I can’t say that I would pass judgment on you either way. You certainly weren’t unjustified in your actions. I always try to remember when driving up relatively stressful roads like this one how it’s not only scary but physically fucking hard for people to ride a bicycle up. So, as much of a hurry as I may be in, to just chill out and enjoy the scenery until there’s a good place to pass the peloton. Fuck, it terrifies me when cars in town don’t give me much room. It’s always worse somewhere like this where there’s no grassy front lawn to bail into. Just a jagged, rocky shoulder with a river on the other side.

    I blame it on the fact that he’s from Tennessee, and has probably seen 3 cyclists before in his entire lifetime. Most other climbers I know are either novice cyclists themselves or at the very least psyched to see other people out there busting ass doing something they enjoy.

  5. KFuller permalink
    March 11, 2010 3:50 pm

    “The road doesn’t give shit, anyway.”

    Truer words were never spoken.

    While riding in shoulders out of the way of cars, I’ve been hit with water bottles tossed from moving trucks and yelled at for not riding on the right side of the road (should be against traffic, they think) in “undisclosed, two-million-strong southern city that thinks ‘exercise’ is a Mexican food dish.” The incidents made me more sad than angry, sad that we’re sometimes such an under-educated, oblivious society with no respect for other people.

    I guess I was wrong in thinking that when I move to Colorado this summer, I’d finally be rid of these road idiots.

    • bikefag permalink*
      March 17, 2010 6:29 pm

      K, there will definitely be less anti-bike assholes around Boulder. Unfortunately, your tolerance-level will change and you’ll still be just as indignant. The REAL problem around Boulder (at least for me, ego-wise) is the other roadies. They don’t ever wave back, they ALL ride $10,000 bikes. When I said in my Hipster Road Biking post that there’s no greater feeling than passing roadies on a lugged-steel bike, I MEANT IT.
      What I’m trying to say is that my UNCFRCT (or whatever the acronym is) is better for cycling community membership (but undeniably worse for truck-yellers)

  6. March 11, 2010 5:30 pm

    There is no external enemy.

    • bikefag permalink*
      March 17, 2010 6:31 pm

      tell me about it, Johnny

  7. Jefe permalink
    March 11, 2010 6:12 pm

    Think of it this way, at least they saw you and were devoid of any actual homicidal tendencies. The scary ones are the folks that do not see you and casually veer off the shoulder into your space. Also, your anger was properly sublimated and certainly got you up that hill much faster. On the other hand, I probably would have spit on their truck too.

  8. Johnny Sprocket permalink
    March 12, 2010 12:55 am

    I go through this every week and struggle with it. If it’s not idiots in cars, it’s motorbikes using the bike lanes to avoid traffic (illegal here).

    I’ve decided that for every act of stupidity committed towards me, I’ll negate it with a friendly wave to drivers who do the right thing.

    Believe me, I’d prefer to hunt these idiots down and shoot them in their fucking sleep, but I’m trying to let it go and be a bit more positive about it.

    • bikefag permalink*
      March 17, 2010 6:32 pm

      Johnny, that’s the kind of attitude that I’m gonna try to take from now on (I’ll report back with detailed failures soon!)

  9. NatMc permalink
    March 12, 2010 4:11 am

    Dude, you got another supporter here. I’ve been there a million times. I usually yell, “Fuck You Cocksucker,” and give them the finger. Then I try and chase them down. Sometimes I catch them, sometimes I don’t. But I never end up feeling very good about it. My good friend in Denver just yells, “Share the road!” I like that. It’s not antagonistic or hateful, but it isn’t backing down either. Problem is, I’m never levelheaded enough to think of it at the moment. Keep on trying bikefag!

  10. March 12, 2010 6:33 am

    Like Johnny, I struggle with this. Rationally I know how I should act, but the irrational part of me sometimes wins when, say, someone pours something (here’s to hoping it’s water) out a van window on to my head or a dually drives by me so closely I feel the heat from the engine.

  11. Graham permalink
    March 12, 2010 4:33 pm

    When I see comments like the above, I always wonder where you people live?! Perhaps I have been unconscionably lucky, but I have yet to have anyone dump or throw anything while I was riding. I have received my share of the “helpful chorus” of drivers who are obviously concerned for my safety and want me to know that I shouldn’t be on the road, but that’s as far as it’s ever gone.

    We’ve our share of ‘necks out here in coastal NC, but maybe all those ocean views have mellowed them out?

    • bikefag permalink*
      March 17, 2010 6:36 pm

      Nicole and I live in the same city, the Undisclosed Northern Colorado Front Range College Town. And it’s a damn fine place, for the most part. But like anywhere else, some people have different ideas of how to get through life. Also, Nicole and I just realistically ride too far, too fast, and too many hours to not eventually get mixed up with the wrong drivers (on the rare occasions that we’re not going FASTER than the cars).

  12. March 12, 2010 7:32 pm

    could take a water bottle and squirt it in the window and make it look like the passenger wee weed themselfs . or could dress like a “train hopping fixie anarchist” circa 2006 and they would have nightmares of you hopping a freight train to their front door and causing a “sick” uprising involving banjos and “street art” and “collective vegan feedings”… revenge is always more fun to think about and fantasize than to actually carry out…sometimes when i’m out and about , i’m mentally tense and prepared for altercations and people seem to sense it and leave me alone.. weird.. must be why i’ve been “unmolested” whether on Nevada Ave or Powers Blvd or Hwy85 in the Springs..( at church its a different collection plate altogether)…new laws make it harder for asses to get away with it though..reckless driving is reckless driving..

  13. Sam permalink
    March 14, 2010 6:19 pm

    I only do sprints up and down the main drag of the downtown area in my Small-Undisclosed-College-Town-Just-West-of-Kansas-City because the speed limit is 20 mph and I can ride faster than cars to make myself feel superior on my 808’s. Everyone in town gets to see how much faster I am than cars and congratulate me for my success as a competitive cyclist. Also, they [cars] have to stop at intersections, giving me the perfect opportunity to discuss my feelings of superiority towards them.

    It’s important to level the playing field — between yourself and cars — in your favor as much as is possible.

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