Oh, look, there is a land rover going 107MPH in the middle lane, half a mile behind me. Why don’t I just move over and let you speed on by. Safe travels, my friend!
However, when I ride my bike, I’m not in a big safe steel box and I don’t have a 350 horsepower engine to speed me out of the way of the other rolling death machines.
Because of my aversion to death, I tend to favor the path less travelled when biking to my destination. I avoid paves roads wherever possible by taking any trail that I can find. This may mean 7 miles instead of 4, but that’s 3 extra miles that I can spend jumping rocks, smelling the flowers, and scaring the crap out of some squirrels.
Unfortunately, no matter how hard I try, there are still some short stretches of road that I can’t avoid on my daily back and forth to work. There is one short stretch that is particularly annoying and mildly dangerous. But only because of the rolling steel boxes.
There is a road leading up to a stop light that curves to the right and down a hill in a way that makes it very difficult to see on coming traffic. This is a situation where I would like to think that most drivers would choose the safer option; not to swerve into oncoming traffic they can’t see, just to race around me to a red light. For the poor decision making side of that crowd, I like to provide some extra guidance.
Because I’m cruising down a hill at 25MPH and it’s a blind corner, I pull out into the lane, near the double yellow and proceed on a steady and straight path as if I am a big car hogging the lane that belongs to me. This should discourage anyone from passing since they would have to put their car directly in the way of oncoming traffic.
Recently, one fellow decided to prove me wrong.
As I approached the corner in question, I looked back. There was no car. Then I pulled out to coast down and around the corner, blocking the lane, as I described. Nearing the red light, I saw two cars already lined up and waiting. On the left, another car was making a right hand turn through the light onto my road heading in my direction. Then, when I was about 20 yards from the back of the last car, a kind gentleman in his rolling box cruised around me at about 45MPH. To avoid hitting the oncoming car head on, he had to cut back into my lane and slam on his brakes. Also to avoid hitting the cars waiting at the light.
Because I was so excited that he decided to put my life in danger, I decided to send him my praises as I rolled by his passenger window. Something to the effect of, “that was probably a little bit unnecessary, good sir! I wish you a good day!” Then I took my place at the front of the line and to the right of the cars preparing to turn left (as is the advantage of a bike).
Well. Apparently he wasn’t thrilled about my kind words. This young fella decided to get out of his car to speak his mind. He said, and I quote, “Why don’t you come say that to my face!!!” Just like in the movies. Was I in a movie?
Well, hadn’t I just said it to his face? Or was the passenger window too far away?
Admittedly, I was a little upset. But I’m not about to just venture over to any old stranger. What if this dude had a gun or a knife or some such thing? People get a little crazy when rolling around in their boxes. However, this situation brought out a little of the worst in me. I took a moment to notice that we was both holding a coffee and spewing crumbs from some kind of muffin recently chewed. Perhaps it was pumpkin. Or maybe a delicious chocolate chip. Maybe he’d share it!
I took a risk and trusted my judgement of his character. This little dude wasn’t really ready to cause trouble. And, I was about 99.999% certain he didn’t have a weapon of any sort. My assessment was validated when I began to roll around the front of the waiting cars and in his direction. He jumped back into his car and put up his window.
Seeing that he did not reach reach for a weapon of any kind, but instead took another bite of that delicious muffin, I proceeded on, toward his waiting face.
Upon arriving at his window, I fulfilled his wishes and told him what I said, to his face, though a little slower, so he could understand what he may have missed the first time.
Some more crumbs fell from his mouth.
I was careful, of course, not to touch his precious metal box in any way. I know how this can be upsetting. After all, I would have been upset if he had touched me with his car.
Upon clarifying my statement, I rolled around the waiting cars and up just as the light turned green. One last look back to see if he planned on running me down. Nope.
In hindsight, I realize that I will probably see this kind gentleman again, another day, since we likely share a route. I hope that he chooses to avoid passing on a blind corner next time.
It was also possible he could have been a co-worker of mine. Luckily this was not the case.
Perhaps one day we’ll laugh about this together, over some delicious muffins.