Of mice and men

This is a story from my ride last Saturday. I’m just shy of three hours in at this point. I’ve done the hills. Time to head home. I’m on Mockingbird Lane, also know as 68th Street in Phoenix. Runners. Whole group of ‘em. Coming straight at me. I’m in 53 x 17 or so. I’m in the bike land, heading north. There are six or eight of them, heading south. They are all in the northbound lane, but heading south. I’m about a hundred yards out and half of the group goes over the curb to the sidewalk. All of the women went to the sidewalk. Those that remained in the street were all men.

There are two or three in the bike lane, in a single file line. Coming straight at me. I’m not really flying, just pedaling softly, but I’m moving pretty good. I do not have a computer on my bike these days, but I would put it at 15 miles per hour or slightly higher. High teens. I first stop pedaling, looking at the group, coast, and then apply the brakes, trying to figure out what I’m going to do. They are spreading out, which seems really at odds with what I’d expect to see. Normally when two people or two groups of people approach one another, be it on bikes, in cars, or just walking down a hallway, a person will naturally drift to the side to make room for the other to pass. It is so common place that it is instinctive.

Swelling your bunch up claim as much real estate as possible is counter-intuitive, at best. And a serious dick move at worst.

One of the men goes full on out into the street. I will call him Street Guy. He is more than half way to the centerline. Way out there. Two or three men remain in bike lane. None have interrupted their stride or slowed in the slightest. They are still coming straight at me. I brake more, scrubbing off speed. I’m to a crawl now. I hold my hands up in the universal palms up “what the fuck” symbol recognized worldwide, and then point to my left in an attempt to indicate that I wish to have room to pass their group on that side. Street Guy is looking straight at me and returns the arms out, palms up gesture, and continues to run along the same line, way out toward the center of the street. At this point, I am incredulous. These guys are running straight at me and I don’t know where they hell they are going. It’s like watching bunnies run around. They are not getting out of my way, and I don’t know where I can go to get out of theirs. I can’t use the bike lane, or the sidewalk, and I cannot drift toward the centerline because one of them is out in the middle of the street. I do not feel comfortable crossing the centerline and riding toward oncoming traffic because that is suicide.

I put my hands back on the bars and I brake again as I go right between them. I ride right through their group. It was, really, my last by only option. I would have preferred not to do so, but they left me no choice. In fact, I honestly believe they desired me to do so because I witnessed a second cyclist (who had been behind me on the road) also ride through the middle of their group a few minutes later. The two or three guys in the bike lane go by about 18 inches to my right and Street Guy is about two feet to my left. I say, “I was afraid to split the uprights” as I coast between them.

Street Guy says, “What! Can’t hear you!” The man who was the front of the two or three in bike lane guy says something similar, but way douchier, with the sneering condescension that implies that I was wrong, that I cannot be heard, and therefore do not matter.

I coast for a few and think, fuck this. I turn and catch up to them. They seem super aggressive as if they are bracing for a fight or something. They continue with Street Guy keeping an eye on me. So, now I’ve got your attention you fucking cock holster. I drift along side Street Guy and say, “I said I was a bit gun-shy about splitting the uprights back there.”

They are sneering at me. Just sneering at me. It is unreal. Who the fuck are these guy? I feel like I’m watching a bad sitcom about rich kids or something. How can I impress upon them that I was actually concerned we were about to run headlong into each other back there? I am 6’ 4” and weighed in at 193 this morning (pie & beer will do that). I don’t want to run into someone head-on, I’d much prefer to avoid it. Don’t these idiots realize that it would cause injury to all of us? Are these guys really willing to risk such a collision?

Street Guy says something along the lines of, “We were wondering, at first we were like he seems like he’s being nice, and then we were like we weren’t so sure…”

I really have no idea where he was going. Nice? What the fuck is “nice”? I tried to make clear, again, that I was nervous about riding through the middle of their group.

It’s going nowhere. I give up, turn around again and say, “Have a good day!”

Bike Lane Guy says, “We wanted to make sure you were being nice.”

I stiffened a bit at that. I kept pedaling. I let it go.

But, I sure did think about that one a bit on the way home. What the hell does that mean; you were making sure I was nice? What, you assholes are the fucking Nice Police? You gonna red card me?

How’s that work if you don’t even slow down? You kept running south as I was pedaling north in the bike land. You forced me from my line. And then, after we had passed, you continued running away from me. You weren’t making sure of anything. You’re just a fucking dick. A pretentious dick who doesn’t realize that a collision would have really, really hurt.

Man, I hope I caught those jokers on odd day and they don’t usually run together at that time on Saturdays. I’d prefer their shadow won’t darken my route in the future.

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About big jonny

The man, the legend. The guy who started it all back in the Year of Our Lord Beer, 2000, with a couple of pages worth of idiotic ranting hardcoded on some random porn site that would host anything you uploaded, a book called HTML for Dummies (which was completely appropriate), a bad attitude (which hasn’t much changed), and a Dell desktop running Win95 with 64 mgs of ram and a six gig hard drive. Those were the days. Then he went to law school. Go figure. Flagstaff, Arizona, USA

55 thoughts on “Of mice and men

  1. I’ve “run” into the same, or a similar group up there as well – I think it was on Invergordon, though. You see, the “nice test” involves acting like enough of an asshole that anyone having anything less than a spectacular day would want to knock your block off. So, you just showed them how nice of a guy you were by NOT being a complete dick, even though by their very action they were trying to draw your inner dick out……wait, “inner dick” doesn’t sound right…

  2. I’m not familiar with the intensity of your rides but it sounds like you were not in full “Swayze” mode. Why not just call out, (as politely as possible), “Could you please clear the bike lane, I have nowhere else to go.”

  3. Sounds like a garden variety 7-10 split. I’d a made the spare and rode on.

  4. Guys & Gals,

    How many times have each of us heard “get off my road!” from motorists as they speed by?

    Sheesh, we need to remember where we’re coming from here…

  5. Running = that’s cool do your thing
    Running in the bike lane = if it’s not being used that’s fine by me
    Running in the bike lane when a bike is coming the opposite direction and you have a perfectly good sidewalk that’s not occupied = inconsiderate at the least, dick move possibly. (It’s also a dick move to run and block the entire sidewalk when someone else is coming from the opposite direction, or to ride 4 abreast and deliberately block traffic.)
    Running into the lane of traffic while you’re also blocking the sidewalk and the bike lane so that a rider really has nowhere else to go = malice (or incredibly twisted logic, but given the “nice” comment probably malice)

  6. I never cease to be amazed at how people will play chicken with my 200 lbs of meat heading at them at 20 mph. Endorphins are a hell of a drug, especially when matched with machismo.

    Your approach was pretty passive aggressive though. I would have dealt with it head-on, so to speak: Just keep on pedaling and make them yield, like the (smarter) ladies.

  7. I hate it when people go out of their way to fuck with your day. Not needed, not good.

  8. …hey, jere…go fuck yourself…READ THE POST…they were essentially forcing the play by being spread out all over the place, road, bike lane & sidewalk…

    …like gianni & others here, i’ve encountered similar situations with local high school running teams where the close encounter was intentional by the other party & that is not a healthy game & certainly not fun…

  9. …btw, gianni…i thought i could sense your frustration, fear & anger as i read of your encounter & then i realized i was palpably feeling those sensations from having been in that place myself…

    …i like to encourage people pursuing healthy endeavors by being courteous even to the point of giving up the right of way on occasion ‘cuz it puts a smile on somebody’s face & makes ‘em realize that not every cyclist is a traffic scofflaw malcontent but deliberately cross me by being stupid &/or dangerous & i find myself getting fucking riled…

  10. I’d be tempted to “accidentally” give the dude a squirt of Cytomax, hopefully he’d try to catch you and you could see how fast and far he can actually run. Fucking morons.

  11. …from the sound of “We wanted to make sure you were being nice.” these douche nozzles were prob’ly running & packing up a bike lane on some previous occasion & got called out by someone(s) who wasn’t quite as amicable as gianni, so they were ‘playing it forward’ in a negative manner…

    …while there are ‘multiple user paths’ (which were once ‘bike paths’ originally – how else do you think they came into being ???…), that small lane on the side of the road, is, exactly like it sez, a ‘bike lane’

    …& i’ll bet every one of those runners has a college degree…

  12. …fuckers do this in FLG all the time downtown. Solo runner against traffic in the middle of the bike lane while they can see I can’ roll out into traffic as it’s whizzing by @ 35mph. I’ve seen em do this to old ladies on bikes, puffing out their elbows and shit while there’s absolutely no one on the sidewalk, and even seen em almost cause bike/vehicle accidents. I called a fucker out on this before and he started cussin at me in his Hammer sleeveless t-shirt. Seriously, this shit is wacker than wack IMHO and makes me look down at the “runner’s scene” in town.

    …and don’t get me started on groups of runners fronting on pedestrians on the sidewalks…. UGH.

  13. It’s road rage in another format. I’ve seen the same thing play out with cars and runners. Even runners and each other. It does seem like cyclists get the worst of it though.

  14. goddamn you are nice. i would have been spewing off obscenities like the crazy bitch i am. it drives me insane to see people running in the bike lanes. worse – those fucking speed walkers. there’s a fucking sidewalk. use it. i do when i run. sheesh.

    sprocket3030 – i like what you said. endorphins are a helluva a drug.

  15. I deal with crap like this every day in NYC. I point at the offender(s) and indicate they should stay out of my way or which direction they should move so they don’t get hit. I will crash into people to prove my point if they refuse to relent from the lane. Hit the brakes? Hah. NYC is a bit grittier than AZ, but I’ve dropped a few four letter words at full volume to emphatically get my point across.

    They fooled you once. Shame on them. Next time, be more assertive in claiming your right to travel legally with right of way in the bike lane or it’s your own fault.

  16. You’re a much nicer person than I am, BJ.

    I’ve noticed that in NYC, people just do whatever the fuck they want. You kind of have to, or you won’t get anywhere.

  17. Bad as it was, thank Lob you didn’t run into a bunch of equestrians. Fucking filthy stupid animals; Lob! how I hate them. And their horses too.

  18. I am known to daydream on my rides, and I was doing so the other day on a particularly beautiful Sunday, when some kind of crappy silver sedan full of testosterone swerved at me at high speed and one of the sperms in the passenger seat yelled “Fuck You” at me so vociferously that I was startled, to say the least. At first I thought it might be some ill-advised denizen of the trailer park being funny, then I wondered if I had pissed off somebody in the midst of my dream, then I realized it was Random and an hour later I was drinking my third beer and my fifth shot and feeling sad that I had been born a member of this species.

    I coulda been a fucking hawk or a dolphin or even a dromedary or a pachyderm and carried within my soul more compassion and nobility than I see in even the best of our sorry asses.

    Fucking Jogging Zombies. What the hell are they putting in the water out there?

    regretfully yours, tj

  19. In my heart of hearts I am a cat. Fear me, humans. I am cold and hungry and your flesh is warm.

  20. Not sure why running in the direction of traffic is how people jog.. If they were in cars and you were in the bike lane they would have still swerved and sped around you.. I h8te the bike path warrior mentality but as cyclist we need keep our selves safe and runner,, people with dogs and even other cyclist need to be aware,, and please go with the Flow….
    On your Left does not mean move Right..
    fight the good fight Big Johnny!!

  21. I’m with judi on this you are goddamn nice.
    back in my day, that would have been the perfect time to harden the fuck up. throw a full on bmx style foot plant skidder. claim that 7-10 split. Of course, round here a bump of my palm to the shoulder of the runner is pretty clear massage as to who is on who’s turf and what rules we are playing by.
    nice guy

  22. Are the runners obligated to yield to a bike when running against traffic? In other words, if there had been a collision and the police were called, would you be at fault if it occurred within the bike lane?

    Maybe the AZ law isn’t clear. I’m not sure what would happen in CO either (if fault were to be determined in the event of a collision). This seems to happen to me every few weeks in Denver, although it’s usually one or two runners rather than a pack. Part of me wants to hold my line and make a point, but I’m not going to risk injury over some asshole. Of course taking the high road probably isn’t good for my blood pressure.

  23. Wind it up, full-on sprint Cav style. They either (a) scatter, or (b) visit the emergency room.

  24. Crazy stuff. Had 3 high school football players on the multi-use path in my cross hairs the other day. I was rolling as far right as I could and these 3 were coming towards me in full-fat-footbal- player-jog, and taking up the entire path. I saw them and quickly realized that they, or at least the alpha dog of the group, were feeling like they owned the path. I was on my 29er with nothing but groomed grass on either side, but I wasn’t going to budge. Fuck these tools. I didn’t speed up or slow down. I just held my course. Two of the three- the 2 furtherest from me- came to their senses quickly and scurried off the path. I didn’t need that. I just needed some room. But the 3rd, the “bad ass” alpha, was staying the course. So was I. Dude was being a cock and I was lining up a 29er front wheel for some self realization. Yep, you guessed it- he moved. I am sure it was best for both of us, and my front wheel, that he did. But next time I will still do the same.

  25. and actually, one time on the Trophy Bike, which is quite nimble, I jinked around an oncoming bmx moron, all but grazing him with my shoulder, and he squealed like a little girl. Maybe he learned.

  26. I think Chris has a good point. Get in a big boy gear, start sprinting out of the saddle and start screaming like you just ate a fucking Mormon and are about to shit gay marriage all over the god damn road. I don’t see any one staying in the way of full-speed hellfest.

  27. The Rules of the Road dictate that oncoming vessels alter their course to starboard or the right in this case in order to pass safely.
    Being a sailor as well as a biker as well as a scooter driver I have had to depart from the Rules of the Road when my lane was coveted by a steel cage and I vacated to the soulder for “personal space”. Only to return and plant a boot imprint into their door for thier significant other to question its origin later. They should consider themself lucky several friends ride with ball bearings or marbles (they, as in evidence desinigrate at 50mph) in their pockets.

    Bravo Jonny for taking the high road, you’re a better guy than I.

  28. …eloquent, rhys…absolutely fucking eloquent…laughed my ass off…

    …& you & chris are definitely ‘not wrong’…i try & be a little more subtle these days but i can absolutely see your point…

    …sometimes ya just gotta declare yourself…fuck ‘em where they breath…

  29. Yep,

    come across this all the time, especially in Cornwall park in the middle of my Sunday ride. The worst are the people walking their dogs, they & Fidue will walk straight at you in the road, ignoring the fact that there’s a perfectly good footpath next to them & then heap abuse at you as they have to drag the dog out of harms way at the last minute.

    Not to mention the runners, I was a competitive distance runner for 35 years until one day my left knee suddenly hurt & said ” hey arsehole, you know my medial meniscus? well it’s just left town”, boom, bone on bone & park the running shoes.

    I’m still a member of Auckland Joggers, (world’s oldest jogging club, Bill Bowman was involved, a story for a different website),& I’ll come around a corner to find a running pack 5 abreast coming towards me, which is cool as I’ll abuse the crap out of them & some Noddy will rise to the bait & then get slapped down by the pack members who know me.

    I’ll meet up with them later for tea & Ginger nuts at the club house for a mid ride refuel & abuse session.

    Below is sort of in the same vein, this is from a local website with a lot of sanctimonious people who get really upset when you disagree with them, except this guy, he’s cool.

    http://cyclingauckland.co.nz/general/2012/03/my-encounter-with-a-bikeist/

  30. I woulda been all tough blah blah blah; everyone is a badass hypothetically. People can suck, especially men, as you know. If this is the worst thing that happens this wk, life will likely still be feeling pretty sweet. Fuckers get you going for a while though huh?

  31. I was a runner for more years than I’ve been a biker…if these were college kids…I’d say it was just an incident of normalcy for the mentality of the collegiate runner. I’ve been there, done that, and looking back, am not terribly proud of some of the shit we caused on our workouts on campus. We were stupid and more than a little crazy…but that happens when your are running 100 miles per week and you are only able to REALLY drink on Saturday nights cuz you are racing every weekend. Not an excuse, just a potential reason.

    If they were just a “running club,” they were straight-up dicks. Like Freds wearing Saucony…you can’t take yourself too seriously even if you are notching victories in all the local 5ks…you still ain’t shit on the national scene.

    On my local path…my limit is two “On your left”s, with increased urgency and volume on the second. If they don’t move, I do the ricer fly by and let them feel the breeze. Maybe they’ll turn down the volume on the earbuds next time…

  32. Where’s the dude who sucker punched the guy in Flag a couple of months ago? Take him with you next time and when you approach them from behind have him throw a donkey punch to the back of their heads.

  33. I’m with AA…as shitty as your encounter was, you took the high road and that’s what counts.

    Is there a runner/cyclist rift in the matrix? I had an “encounter” with some trail runners last weekend. As I was climbing up the trail, I came across 3 runners headed down with their dog. The third guy stopped me via a body block and told me, “DUDE, runners have the right-of-way!”….says it right there on the trail sign….I said that it was my understanding that uphill traffic has the right-of-way, regardless of mode of travel…apparently I was mistaken.

    I politely, albeit reluctantly, agreed just to get back to riding…it was a glorious day…and when I somewhat sarcastically said, “have a great run!”…the woman called me a fucking asshole, twice. I didn’t mention the fact that she conveniently didn’t read that the trail sign also states that dogs need to be on a leash.

    I tried and tried to let it go but it ate at me the rest of the day. Ran the typical I shoulda kicked his ass scenario but thought about what if someone ended up in the hospital and I ended up in jail…no more job, no more seeing my daugthers, etc.

    So, boys and girls….play nice, leave the tools to live their miserable lives and just ride your bike. Just sayin’.

  34. Big Juan,

    Same thing happened to me while riding the levee on my cross bike in TEMPE by PAPAGO yesterday.I got hit by a car in Austin in 2001 and have zero tolerance for any shit like that since. I ALWAYS have the right of way unless on a trail.
    What usually works for me is I get down on the drops and put elbows out, acting like I am bracing for impact. NOBODY wants to get hit by a biker doing 25 mph.
    That was pack mentality and pussy on their part. They or any other lane hog may be more fit than me, but the pecking order fucking changes when I step off the bike so the courtesies end there before they start.

  35. i always find it interesting when people want to pick a fight with someone wearing gloves and a helmet.

  36. when I see stuff like this, I am reminded of a lesson i was taught in the fine city of New Orleans about a decade ago..
    …as i sat on the curb in handcuffs while an officer wrote me a $280 ticket, he said “This is called a sidewalk, not a side ride. Why were you riding your bike on the sidewalk?”
    I feel it’s my job to always remind pedestrians of that fact. It’s called a BIKE lane.

  37. Jonny, Wanna ride Saturday? I’ll see if I can get one of the guys we rode with a couple of weeks ago, real mild mannered guy, Eric. While we were sipping on brews that evening, I mentioned the asshole on the Ducati that thought it was cute to pull up and rev his engine at us down on Lincoln. He said he wished the guy had stopped, he loves to fight. I’m a little taken back, cause he’s real quiet. He then told me he’s a MMA fighter. I hope to ride with him more often. He’s the guy who lives not far from you.

  38. I realized yesterday while riding to work that I rarely see runners on Tucson’s eastside, where I’m usually riding… and when I do it’s just an individual on the sidewalk. I’m sure there are a lot more around the campus/downtown area. The only time I’ve had a problem was on the MUP that runs along the Air Force base, where a small platoon of flyboys were running in formation and eventually moved far enough over to give me some room. I assume it’s because they know damn well that it’s not worth getting into trouble over some bullshit as they’d get civilian punishment AND military punishment.

  39. Im one of the few mountainbikers I know that enjoys running as well as riding. I can tell you there are as many self ritious pricks at a 10k as there are in sport class. (I wont even get started on the marathon crowd.) I hear hatred from both sides of the street, and that doesnt even count the “running is bad for you” idiots. I love hearing that shit.. (If its so bad for me then why do i have a resting heart rate around 50 and the same jeans size since 1992??)

    Sounds like group bravery took over on their part.

    We live in a pretty entitled society right now. The main cause is TMFP
    (too many fucking people) I wouldnt look for a societal awakening any time soon..

  40. Wish I could still run. Trashed knee and ankles, bursitis in the hip and that torn hamstring from last winter was the final nail.

    But I remember how good it felt. When I see runners I give ‘em plenty of room. Shit, I’ve even been known to wave back.

  41. What would Jesus do?

    I asked Him after reading this.

    He said,

    if He was the cyclist He would have produced a Hail Mary.

    if He was the runner He would have given room.

    if He didn’t cede some room, He would go and confess His dickedness.

    Now, if He was carrying His crucifix, He would be prepared to defend His need to use the entire bike lane. But then, He would agree that 99% of His sheep would have thought it would be understandable to try to move over. He also went on to suggest that these guys were probably part of the 1%.

  42. If I could rewrite for shit, I could have written this myself. Been there, fuck them, don’t get me started. I wouldn’t have been so “nice”