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.by