Gator's Blog

Staring Into The Sun


Sacramento, California,
February 01
Father of ultra cool daughter; husband of beautiful, infinitely patient wife; walker of goofy, good-natured dog; aspiring writer and journalist; advocate; traveler; proud Lefty; movie lover; average age-group triathlete; tinkerer; woodworker; knowledgeable in useless trivia; amateur historian; appreciative listener of seventies rock; admirer of Cheever, Boyle, McCarthy, Scorsese, Alexie, Coen Brothers, Styron, Ripley and many others great and lesser known. If you have the time or inclination please click on the "writerMann" link below to check out my website. Thanks


JUNE 18, 2009 3:47AM

Thank You Cycling Narcissist

Rate: 16 Flag

The morning started off with a whimper.  Once again, as right now, I stayed up way too late the night before making sure my post was just right.  My wife was no help, ensconced as she was reading fan fiction concerning her newest obsession, those Twilight vampire books, and neither of us had been watching the clock.  So I finally crash around 2 a.m., and wake up for work around 6 a.m.  Big yawn.

Amazingly enough I got out the door in time to get my 3 year-old daughter to pre-school and a nice breakfast.  On my way in through the city my daughter says “there’s daddy” as she points to a cyclist up ahead.  I cycle a lot so of course every time she sees someone on a bike it must be daddy.  I told her it was another cyclist and not me.

He’s a few car lengths in front of me and taking up a lane of a three-lane street through the city in morning traffic.  Not a real problem for me, I know sometimes you’ve got to stake out your turf as a cyclist.   No, the real problem isn’t his lane-hogging, it’s his three-lane hogging as he suicidally darts in and out of lanes, in front of, behind, to the side of, and everywhere but on top of the cars of folks simply trying to get to work. And when he does decide on a lane, especially his favorite, the middle one, he drifts very deliberately from side to side seemingly to ensure that no cars pass him.

Now, I know that drivers are getting pissed at him, because I’m getting pissed at him and I’ve been cycling more years than he’s been alive.  And I’m pissed at myself for getting pissed at a fellow cyclist, but I’ve been on the receiving end of some seriously demented drivers who don’t believe that cyclists exist, or if they do it’s only for target practice.  One of the reasons for this unacceptable attitude on the part of drivers is because of shit-for-brains like this guy who looks to be, and I’m not being reverse-ageist here, just observational, maybe 20 years old.  His whole attitude on the road reeks of entitlement from his hip worn-out-just-so messenger bag (and he’s not a messenger, whose crazy shit on bikes I at least understand, they got to get where they going, like yesterday, plus they’re usually very skilled cyclists who are doing constant cost-benefit calculations as they dart around town), to his laissez-faire attitude about safety, his and those around him.  He’s a selfish little twit who feels the need to reinforce his own worth by demonstrating his finely tuned neediness to the world, or to morning rush hour traffic.

And yes, bravo young hipster, you are cycling to work and thereby lowering carbon emissions, and but were the world a simpler place I would also, but toddlers and a job requiring travel make that a difficult proposition, for myself at least.  Perhaps a better lesson for my daughter to learn as she sits strapped in her car seat watching a young maniac with invincibility issues play chicken with one-ton heaps of steel is that of bike safety and common courtesy.

So let me thank you, young cycling narcissist (and allow me  a moment to emphasize the fact that he is not a narcissistic cyclist,  the distinction being the implication of the latter that he is a cyclist, while the former description is more accurate, his being a narcissist that happens to ride a bike), for enraging drivers five days a week, some of whom I will admit probably come with pre-conceived notions concerning those on two-wheeled transportation sans motors.

But it is those others that I worry about, drivers who actually have respect for cyclists, driver’s who believe in and actually practice Share the Road, drivers who are actually cyclists themselves, these are people who are not the enemy, and their numbers are dwindling.  And it is the cycling narcissist, you my friend, who I believe doesn’t really get cycling, who just wants to power-play, that is driving (sic) these folks over to the dark side.  You know the type.  I sure do.  And dollars to donuts I’ll happen upon them someday on my two-wheel steed.  It’s happened before.  Let me give you some examples, and I want to make sure to thank you because you made it all possible.

The driver who hit me on my bike in college, at the corner of 13th and University in Gainesville, because he thought he could beat me to the point of where we collided, and yes, he saw me (and probably someone like you earlier in the day).  I wasn’t even hauling ass, I know this because my girlfriend at the time was riding with me and she was no Lance Armstrong if you get my drift (sorry Sophie). He didn’t even slow down until my face was on his windshield looking at him at which point he felt the need to slam on his brakes (too little too late) and send me ass over tea kettle into the middle of the intersection where another car who actually had the right of way was able to stop a whole several feet short of my cranium.  Thank you cycling narcissist. 

The vast number of redneck drivers in Tallahassee, where I used to put in some serious mileage when I raced tri’s, and their propensity to throw hard objects, yell unoriginal epithets (hey faggot, nice shorts), jerk the car in my general direction, and lay on their horn when they get right on your ass which causes most cyclists I know to, if they survive the heart palpitation, veer slightly in reaction to the sudden decibel increase.  I say redneck and yes, I’m generalizing, but all of our training rides took place out in the vast network of county roads around Tallahassee.  Do the math.  Thank you cycling narcissist. 

The driver of the red pickup in--guess where--Tallahassee, who did not allow any room between his F-150 and my ass, literally my ass, causing me to veer into a wretched, over-grown, shit-water filled culvert complete with hungry mosquitoes.  And his passenger had the good sense to complete the deal by shooting me the bird.  Thank you cycling narcissist. 

The older man and woman who came up behind me, slowed down, laid on the horn and didn’t let up, pulled beside me and inched their big ass Buick whatever-the-fuck-it-was toward me until I hit the curb and laid down my bike.  This was here in town in Sacto, and needless to say I hauled ass after them but lost them in the neighborhood.  It was probably better that way as I was about to pop a vein in my neck and no telling what I would have done.  Thank you cycling narcissist. 

And this is not an exhaustive list.  So there you have it.  From now on I will probably avoid this particular route into work.  No need for my daughter to be exposed to any more bad cycling habits.  But I must give the devil his due.  Cycling narcissist was wearing his helmet.  

Great.  It’s one a.m.  Thanks cycling narcissist.

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At least he had his helmet on.

Rated :)
This guy should have been sitting on his helmet since that's where his brains seem to be. An asshelmet. Kind of like an asshat only with protection.
We have the same issue in the motorcycle world. Young kids on sport bikes flying through traffic and freaking out motorists so that when I get out for a nice cruise I get no respect from other motorists at all. I'm simply one of THEM.
Beautiful observations. Great stuff.
I feel your pain with the redneck drivers in Florida. Sometimes, I think I should be driving my SUV wearing a helmet here!
People think that Florida is cosmopolitan, but no, rednecks rule the roost there and especially in the panhandle. But, helmet or no, this guy you describe has a death wish. Someone will come gunning for him and he will have asked for it.
I have been hit by a car 3 times on my bike and once I was even in a *bike lane*! But the truck that hit me had those bizarre, extended rear view mirrors that reach about 2ft out from the norm. The Mirror clipped my hand and handlebars and I momentarily lost control but didn't crash, but my hand was bleeding. Hillbilly bob just kept on going though he knew he had hit me. Now I have to admit I am a serious bad influence on a bike. I have never worn a helmet in my life. SavageHusband was getting irate with me about it one day and I told him helmets are for pussies. I was kidding of course, but that really pissed him off.
You lost me at "lowering his carbon footprint". Why couldn't he be just another asshole on a bike who couldn't afford the high price of gasoline because of the wacko environmental policies we've had imposed on this country since the Carter years?
I'm 100 per cent with what you say ... and what Michael said. I've had plenty of near-misses on two wheels (motorized and not), and, yeah, I have to put some of the blame on other riders, as well as the crazies in their cages.

Rated (for common sense)
Thanks Natalie

Michael, I knew you would understand.

Thanks FLW

cartouche: don't even get me started on living in Hollywood and commuting twice a day on I-95 like I once did-ugh!

Ardee: or as the Florida panhandle is otherwise known, "southern Alabama"

AP: get that helmet on! I once read about an adult bmx pro rider who was showing his son tricks in the driveway, just rolling around slowly, sans helmet, when he accidentally fell, cracked his noggin, and died. And I don't want to frighten you (unless it pushes you to action) but everytime I see parents riding with their kids and the parents have no helmet but the kids do, I think what's the point. If the kid loses his parents that's pretty much it. I want you to be around for the little savages.

T.S. No argument here, especially him being an asshole. I was just postulating what I thought our young friend would be thinking, although I would be motivated to commute partly by the same thing.

B: stay safe.
There is no way to safely combine cars and fast, heavy traffic! Those bicycle lanes are a joke. Once you get to an intersection, or a driver has to get through the lane to make a turn, it's all over. It's challenging to check for traffic, watch out for the rare, barely visible bike, and negotiate the turn.

I fear for cyclists in Sacto, since some of the world's stupidest drivers roam around here.

From the pedestrian view: I was out at Jedidiah Trail (bikes and walkers only) at American River park (at the end of Arden way. We were on the bridge, part of a camera class. This asswipe came flying through, over the bridge, expecting people to just jump out of his way. I wanted to throw something, and so did a lot of other people.

So I'm going to vote for pedestrians over bikers, that's for sure.

This is a good post. Bikers v. walkers. v vehicles rarely gets talked about these days.
Cyclist in Miami have on compasion for runners/joggers. They'll up behind you like hawks after jack-rabbits. But the motorists, are the worst.
And here I thought this was gonna be a post about those passive-aggressive narcissists who're nice one day and wicked self-involved the next, thus "cycling" in and out of their socioaffective diso...

I think I know this guy, driving home through the Tahoe Park neighborhood, he blew a stop sign in front of me, forcing me to slam on my brakes a couple of times a week. Good thing for him that I moved, I was very close to not hitting my brakes there.
Zuma: I'm usually on the AR trail on my two wheels every weekend, and though I sometimes move rather quickly, I'm really hyper-vigilant about peds and runners and kids and especially kids on bikes. The guy I wrote about was probably in the same group you encountered. If I had a gripe it would be with the peds and runners go with the flow of bike traffic when they are supposed to walk against it to avoid drifting in front of a cyclist.

Trudge: That would be the Miami food chain?

Connie: That is funny! Now I can't help but reading the title that way. You must know my sister the social worker.

Dragon: It's a cult and they have disciples strewn all about Sacto. BTW, I was over in Tahoe Park this weekend at a birthday party for one of my daughter's friends.