I’m riding along this afternoon, enjoying a much cooler, if somewhat windier, August day. A couple of weeks ago I managed to misplace the eyeglass mounted mirror that is almost perpetually installed on my Tifosi shades. I’m paranoid about keeping an eye on traffic behind me and even more so with the smaller glass circle on my replacement mirror. So it is with great awareness that I notice the beat up Chevy barreling down the road directly toward me as I pull up to a four-way stop and signal a left hand turn.
The driver of the beater leans on the horn and yells a profanity at me and I earnestly scoot away from her path. Even still, she swerves toward me, a cigarette clutched firmly between one of two paws gripping the top of her steering wheel. In the backseat a couple of little girls are playing, oblivious to the mayhem Mommy is attempting to wreak upon me.
“Get out of the road, you stupid fucker!”
I know better, but I look directly at her and ask what the problem is. (OK, maybe I actually said, “What the hell, lady?!?”)
“Stay off the road, you fuck!”
Stay calm, I tell myself. “Do you have any idea what you’re talking about?” I ask. “You understand that I have the right of way, right? You know what that is, right?”
I want to point out that there is a sign about fifty feet behind us that says “Share the road” and depicts a cyclist.
“I will run right over you next time, shit head!”
Like she almost did just now, I thought. Better let this one go on down the road and cause an accident somewhere else.
She squeals around the corner, the Chevy belches a cloud of smoke, and the tires grab and leave black marks on the pavement. Good riddance, you crazy cow.
Unfortunately, guess who is sitting at the next stop light?
As I pull up to the light, she leans out the passenger window and begins the assault all over again. “I will call the cops on you. I will sue your ass all to hell, you ugly mother fucker!”
Other drivers are taking notice. The guy behind me is looking nervously around. My heart is beating way too fast but I think I’m looking cool and calm as I pull a small digital camera from the rear pocket of my cycling jersey and begin recording her tirade. She is neatly framed when she realizes what I’m doing.
Screeching “you’re a shit head!” as she runs through the light, a second cloud of smoke stinks up the intersection. But not before I got a photograph of your license plate, you nut bag!
She is, I decide, a hazard to anyone else on the road, to the little kids in the back seat of the car, to herself; I ride by the local police station and make a report, complete with digital evidence.
It’s very seldom that I run into crazy people on the road. I’ve only been “road raged” a couple of times in all the years I’ve been riding, but it always shakes me up. Most people smile or wave me on at stop signs or even, occasionally, at traffic lights. The vast majority of people in my locale treat cyclists with courtesy. The vast majority are not, as they say a little ways south of here, certifiably teched in the haid.
But the few times I’ve run across the psychos have been memorable. For some reason, these events have each time been initiated by chain smoking, apparently lower-educated, profanity-spewing, beater-driving women with an extra thirty pounds of McDonald’s wrappers decorating the interior of their beater and an equal amount of McDonald’s fat wrapped around their waist line. Boy, that felt good to say! I admit that there is an immature part of me that wants to call names and stomp loudly at their idiocy. But I guess that really makes me just as stupid are – what am I accomplishing other than getting it off my chest?
Until I figure this out, I’ll keep taking photographs when I cross paths with the crazies and hand the pictures over to the cops to deal with…
…and hope that I don’t wind up with two tire tracks across me and my bike in the mean time.