A Note from Fatty: Today’s post comes from Mark, who has a great story about an encounter with a motorist last weekend.
Tomorrow, by the way, I will talk about knee warmers. I have a considerable amount to say on the subject.
I realize in writing this that I am about to reinforce nearly every misconceived negative stereotype about people in the state of Idaho. In actuality, Idaho is a great place to live and ride, with wonderful, easily accessible road and mountain rides throughout the state. Generally speaking, the people sharing the roads and trails are courteous and friendly.
Last weekend, my friend Curtis and his son drove up from Salt Lake to spend the weekend with my family in Boise. Of course he brought his bike. Saturday morning, we rolled out from my house and started pedaling towards the foothills for some climbing and peace on the back roads north of town. To get to the foothills, though, we had to ride through downtown Eagle. Normally this is no big deal. There’s sometimes a bit of trafficâ€”Eagle is a small town that has grown into a bedroom communityâ€”but the roads are wide and rarely are there issues.
I’m sure we’re all used to hearing a horn honk once in a while, particularly on a windy day when it can be more difficult to hold your line. But this time, the horn kept honking. And honking. And honking. And instead of just moving around and going on his way, eventually the redneck driving the little beat up Chevy pickup pulled up next to me and did something I have never experienced before: he started moving over and deliberately pushing me onto the shoulder and off the road.
Infuriated, I yelled “pull over, jackass!” to the driver. He obliged. I pulled up to explain to him that I had a right to use the road just like he did (I was excited to use the “roads are for taxpayers” line). He got out of his truck, took off his hat, and got ready to fight. I tried in vain to explain what my rights were. He seemed to think that because I had no license plate on my bike that I had no right to use the road. Based on the exchange, I learned that this man was fond of words beginning with the letter “F.” But I thought it pointless to try and explain to him that consonance as a literary device is best executed with varying words rather than the same one repeated endlessly.
Civilized discourse (if it can be called such when only one of the parties meets the requirements for both civilized and discourse) was getting me nowhere, and Curtis suggested we move on and continue our ride. But as I tried to move away, each time the redneck in the truck turned and stood in front of me. He was determined to settle this his way. For some reason he kept calling me little [fill in the blank]. Now I’m not very tall, but I’d hardly describe myself as little. Realistically, I don’t think a physical confrontation would have lasted long, nor do I think it would have prevented or materially delayed me from finishing the ride.
Nevertheless, I focused on keeping my cool and trying to move on. Until Tex reached down and lifted up his jacket to grab something from his belt. I had no idea what he was reaching for and thought “hit him now or it could get ugly.” A powerful right cross to the chin put him on the ground, and before he could say “Campagnolo,” my left cleat was pressed into his windpipe.
OK, just kidding. That’s just what in hindsight I wish I had done. The reality was that all he had under the jacket was a cell phone, so I continued standing there trying to make peace.
After Curtis and I made several attempts to leave, a witness to the incident offered to call the police. Interestingly, this fellow seemed pleased with the idea because, as he put it, “I know everyone here.” We were two blocks from the police station, so two cruisers carrying three uniforms promptly pulled up to assess the situation. They separated and questioned the three of us. Curtis and I received a warning about making sure not to impede traffic. I don’t know what the other guy got, but I distinctly heard the words “Operating without a permit, DUI, and disorderly conduct” as they radioed in his license number.
The officer asked me what I would like done, and I told him I just wanted someone to explain to the guy that cyclists have a right to use the road. The officer agreed and then asked me for directions to the new mountain bike trail that was just built in the foothills.
Curtis and I pedaled off and don’t really know what happened from there. But I do wonder how this macho redneck would have felt if he’d had the snot beaten out of him by a man dressed shoulders to knees in lycra.