Wow... What a ride. Really... Before you skim this entry, let me, if I may, run a small teaser by you to entice you to read the rest of the post....
Flat tires, car-bike collisions, fipping the bird, AND assault! Now are you interested? Read on.
Yesterday, Eric emailed me and asked if I wanted to go riding today. Since it's been a while since I took Gertie out, I readily agreed. I skipped out from work fairly early (5:30ish) and rode home to get ready. Around 5:45, Eric showed up. Apparently, he'd hit a pothole on his way over, and broken two of his spokes, so he was a little late. So, I donned my oh-so-fashionable yellow jersey I got from the Martindale Tri, and we were off.
The ride was fairly uneventful for the first 15 minutes. We crossed over 35 and started riding around downtown. Eric took the lead and we headed down the big hill on 15th street, across the Lamar bridge, and into the hoity-toity neighborhood over there. We were riding in traffic (with a red blinking light on my tukus, mind you) and were keeping up with the flow of traffic (it's pretty exhillirating on a bike, let me tell you!). Anyway, there was a lady in a Corrolla 50 yards in front of Eric, when all of a sudden, she decides to slam on the brakes. FOR NO APPARENT REASON!!! It was all Eric could do to stop in time. He said his wheels were skidding and his back tire was fish-tailing pretty bad, and he just barely managed to stop. The driver must have been lost or something because shortly after, the corrolla merged into the other lane and promptly did a U-turn.
So, after much cursing of bad drivers, we were off again. We toodled around the nice neighborhoods up there until Eric had a flat. Luckily, there was a street lamp nearby and he had all of his bike tools, so he was able to patch it fairly easily in ~15 minutes. At this point, Eric commented about how this bike ride was cursed. First, he breaks two spokes, next, he almost rear-ends a Corrolla, and now, he gets a flat tire. Under his breath, he mutters that probably next, he's going to break his leg.
After the flat, We rode up north, across MOPAC and back again. At 45th and Shoal Creek, we came to a 4-way stop. Eric waited his turn, and then charged out into the intersection. Ordinarily, this is not necessarily a bad thing. However, if it's dark, you don't have a headlight, and it's a busy road, I wouldn't necessarily advise it. Rather, I would wait until I was sure that all cars in the interesctions knew that I was there, and then cautiously cross. Not Eric. Before I knew it, he was on the bumper of a blue caprice. He didn't get hit all that hard, but it did bump him sideways a little bit. He got hit on his right side, but his left foot got stuck in the bindings of the pedal, and when he tried to put his left leg down to stabilize himself, he rolled his ankle pretty bad.
Luckily, both Eric and the bike were ok, as was the lady's car. She was pretty shook-up about it. I don't blame her. IMHO, Eric was as much at fault (if not more) than she was. His ankle is going to be pretty sore tomorrow. He's able to walk on it and was able to bike home, so I don't think anything was broken. Strained probably, but not broken. Hugh the firefighter (of Domino fame) was coincidentally at the same intersection in his fire truck. They stopped and made sure everything was ok.
So, after we recover from the latest scare, we decide we've had enough, and head home. We head back to my place on Dean Keeton. For those of you not lucky enough to reside in Austin, Dean Keeton is the street which separates the north of UT campus from the rest of the city. It's a fairly large street (6 lanes, 3 each way), well lit, but around 8:00 PM, it's not particularly busy. We're not moving particularly fast, because of Eric's ankle, and the fact that we're almost done. We are, however, taking up an entire lane in the 3-lane road. A group of three cars come up behind us and eventually passes us. One of the cars, Daddy's 1965 teal Ford Mustang (which is driven by a real douchebag, as you will soon find out) is stuck behind us. We are so inconsiderate, that he has to tap on his brakes for an entire 3 seconds while the other two cars pass us, so he can (not put on his blinker) whip around us. Now, it's totally fine to pass bikes on the road. Just don't maliciously swing back into our lane and cut us off. We are on 20 lb. pieces of aluminum which we are moving by raw sweat and tears. You are in control of a 1500 lb. piece of machinery you can drive while doing your nails or calling your frat brothers on your razor.
Anyway, he whips around us and cuts us off, proclaiming with his loud muffler, that despite whatever the sorority girls have been whispering, he does NOT have a small penis. Oh, and he flips us the bird. So, not to be out done, I flip him the bird back. Admittedly, not the smartest thing I've ever done, but dammit, this guy deserved it.
Now, he sees this, and instead of easing through the yellow light, since he was in such a hurry to get around us, he slams on his brakes, squealing his tires, jams the gears into park, and jumps out, and comes rushing towards us, obscenities spewing from his pretty-boy mouth. For those faint of heart, you may not want to read the following paraphrase:
"I could have f-ing made that light! What the f are you doing? Why the f are you taking up an entire lane?"
At this point, he's reached me and Eric, and comes up to me, plants both hands on my shoulders, and shoves me (still halfway on my bike, and in cycling shoes) to the ground. I was really in a state of shock, so I didn't really do anything except start cussing him out for a) cutting us off and b) flipping us the bird first. Now, I'm really wishing I'd come up swinging. To make a long story short, Eric and I cuss at him and he cusses at me and Eric for a minute or so. At this point, I think he realizes he's done something incredibly stupid, so he retreats to the car, mumbling something about "you better f-ing watch who you flip off in this town" No shit sherlock. You too. You'd better watch who you assault.
Eric and I take about 5 minutes to decompress before we head home. On the way there, we talk about the fact that there's probably not too many teal 1965 mustangs around town, and his car shouldn't be too hard to find. If only we'd gotten the license plate number.
We arrive in my neighborhood, and as we turn the corner onto my street, Eric says "You've gotta be f-ing kidding me." Sure enough, parked next to the side of our house (there's an appartment complex next to our house) was a teal 1965 mustang. We put our bikes inside and I run out side with a pencil and paper and grab his license plate number. Texas Plates: P36-LCZ.
So, I've got a few ideas. I'm going to call the cops tomorrow and file a complaint. Probably nothing will come of it, but I'm going to ask if they could at least send him a brouchure about how bikes have the same rights/responsibilities as any other vehicle on the road. I'm also going to go to the bike shop tomorrow and buy a dozen "Be Kind to Cyclists" bumper stickers. The next time I see this mustang, I'm plastering the chrome with these things. Maybe some shoe polish too.
Any suggestions as to how to get retribution? Jill? what are my chances with the cops? The only other eyewitness is Eric.
Geez, I'm pissed off. I'm actually a very safe cyclist. Unlike Eric, I go off the assumption that cars do not see me, and I'll take my right of way when I'm sure that I'm not going to get ground into the pavement. I wait at red lights, I at least slow down at all stop signs, and stop if there's a car there. Oh, and by the way, Cyclists are supposed to take up an entire lane. It lessens the chances of a road-rage fueled maniac trying to squeeze through an opening and running us off the road.