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.