Ours is a dangerous sport. Think about it. Flying down the road at 20 m.p.h., on skinny tires, dodging all manner of road hazards, and with precious little protection from those “sharing” the road with us…..motorists! I’ve not been hit….yet, but have come to accept the fact that someday, a distracted teen, confused senior citizen, or angry, self-loathing tough guy will probably take me out. And last night, well, I thought my number was up.
Sometimes you can sense trouble advancing, and right from the beginning of my ride, the vibe just wasn’t very good. Everyone on the road seemed unusually aggressive, driving fast, passing me way too close. But it was just after 5:00 p.m., a very busy time in the bustling metropolis of Ames, Iowa and woe to the cyclist delaying someone’s nightly migration back to their nest.
But it was the “gentleman” in the red convertible making the biggest impression. I was riding a respectful 18-24 inches from the shoulder when Mr. Convertible (top down of course) squeezes by me with the gentle reminder that I should…”get the hell over!” And then…wait for it….out comes the obligatory middle finger salute. I try not to take these kinds of exchanges personally, but I couldn’t help but wonder why my presence on the road last night caused Mr. Convertible to pop a vein in his head. Did delaying his commute by three seconds give him the right to abuse a fellow citizen? Was I keeping him from an important appointment? A Seinfeld re-run? Granted, the ten-piece bucket of chicken on the seat beside him probably was cooling at an unfortunate rate, but if chicken temperature were a concern, then put the darn top up….right?
The good news is that 99.9% of those with whom we share the road are respectful and even courteous to cyclists. I’ve actually become “friends” with a certain gravel truck driver who swings his rig way over into the other lane when he passes me. I usually indicate my appreciation with a hearty wave and he generally returns the gesture in kind. Except, last night I could have sworn he waved at me with a chicken leg! Coincidence? I think not.
–Jeff Iles, Ames IA