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Old 10-24-05, 12:50 PM   #1
pohatu
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I was riding home from studying at sunset, and I guess it was a little past sunset. My generator/light kit that I had just installed that day broke about ten minutes earlier. I came to a red light, I was east-bound. Two guys were walking up from my right, north-bound but saw me and changed direction to walk down along the street where I would be heading. The light changed and there were two cars crossing with me. I took off and swerved behind the second car to go to the wrong side of the road and hopefully put the car between me and the guys. The speed limit was 35, but just starting out I might be able to get enough distance to make it. I almost felt stupid, swerving just out of fear, as they hadn't done anything yet other than change directions and wait for me, but just as I swerved they took off chasing me across the street. My chain slipped a couple of gears, and earlier that night it slipped all the way off, so I thought it had done that again and I was screwed, but instead it caught and I hauled ass as fast as I could because at this instant was when they were clearly chasing me. I made it to the wrong side of the street and the guy in the lead threw a soda bottle at me. I ducked and it went in front of my face. I thought to myself that if he was throwing things I had beat him, but I head his footsteps and saw that he was chasing me. He was freaking fast. All he had to do was grab my backpack or kick the back wheel, or if he had a stick or something throw it at my bike, or keep up enough for me to tire or have my chain slip again. But thank God, I had more juice on the bike than he had on foot. I kept pedalling like mad to the next light, turned and went into an even darker, even more dangerous neighborhood just to hopefully lose them. I caught my breath and went back to the main street, full speed all the way home.

Since then, I've realized that I should have turned right as soon as I saw them, and found another way home. I'm not going back out after dark, ever - and that pisses me off - why should I be forced to ride only in the daytime just because of these two jerks. And will I even be safer in the day time? They could mug me in daylight just as easily. So instead, I'm thinking I should carry a stun-gun or even a real gun, I'd like to be able to afford the new taser. I'm not even in a big scary city like DC or NY or Chicago.
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Old 10-24-05, 12:55 PM   #2
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damn, that sounds really scary. i wonder if they thought you were someone else? or just screwing around?? what city did this happen in?
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Old 10-24-05, 01:00 PM   #3
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I am sorry about your incident...sucks that it happened at all...but it does pay to be aware of your surroundings. Get your bike checked out so that you can spin away without worrying about your chain slipping...


...but your comment about not being in a big scary city like DC, NYC, or Chicago...people with bad intentions are everywhere. That you may live in Anytown, USA does not make you any less susceptible to any of the ills of "big scary" cities.

Just keep an eye out next time and every time you are out. Not just when you are on the bike, but everywhere.
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Old 10-24-05, 01:04 PM   #4
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I pointed out that I wasn't in a big city to keep from having the "cities are bad, subburbs are good" debate. I will get my bike checked out.

p.s. It just occured to me that I had my ipod on, maybe that's what prompted them to attack. No more music while riding for me. (and no more white earbuds either).

be careful out there.
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Old 10-24-05, 01:10 PM   #5
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Where do you live?

How about some pepper spray? Don't let them run your life.

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Old 10-24-05, 01:12 PM   #6
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You gotta pay attention when your spider sense starts tingling. Good thing you paid enough attention to changed lanes.

I was almost mugged like that one night while I was walking. I was walking downtown, about 4 AM, when I saw this guy on the other side of the street, walking the opposite way. After he passed me, and thought I didn't notice, he crossed the street, then started following me, but always staying in the shadows. I finally got out to a better lighted street, and looked back- he was standing in the shadow of a doorway watching me. My theory was that if he wanted to try to mug me, I was going to stand and fight, but out in the open, not is some dark doorway. It worked that time.
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Old 10-24-05, 01:31 PM   #7
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One more reason not to wear earphones when riding. Gotta have all sense on full alert all the time....
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Old 10-24-05, 01:49 PM   #8
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Originally Posted by pohatu
I'm not going back out after dark, ever - and that pisses me off - why should I be forced to ride only in the daytime just because of these two jerks.
Exactly the sort of thoughts I always had when worrying about being outside after dark. Why should some miserable crapholes limit my freedom of movement???!!! Argh!

So, yeah, carry a pepper spray, mount it on the handlebars and be ready to use it. Most muggers, AFAIK, are actually cowards and don't expect much resistance from the victims... Not trying to make you feel overconfident, but these bastards shouldn't have the power to confine you to the indoors after dark.
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Old 10-24-05, 02:40 PM   #9
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NY's not a big scary city. And don't bother w/ a gun cuz you might drop it and shoot a hole in you tire. You could get one of them hook knife type things that don't retract, but you could also cut your own finger off w/ it. Pepper spray might work as well as a good air horn (let it blast in the guy's ear, then kick him in the nuts), but I'd recommend learning martial arts. It's fun, it's good exercise, and chicks dig karate men.
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Old 10-24-05, 02:47 PM   #10
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but I'd recommend learning martial arts. It's fun, it's good exercise, and chicks dig karate men.
Definitely a good recommendation. Not that you want to go around looking for trouble, but the self-confidence that comes from knowing how to defend yourself is priceless.

In the meantime, make sure you get that bike in good working order.
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Old 10-25-05, 09:56 AM   #11
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Aside from preventing an action, which is rare, a gun can only do harm and usually to the intended user. That pepper spray seems like a great idea although possibly awkward to implement while fleeing.

One thing I might've tried in your situation is to acknowledge them. Just a "Hey, what's up?" just to feel them out. Intentions are projected and you could get a clue about them fairly easily just by responding to a look. Luckily you're out of it and with an experience like this as history, you're better off and prepared.

Good luck and be safe.
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Old 10-25-05, 10:08 AM   #12
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It can be difficult to know who is around you and how much of a safety zone to leave so that you can get away. Not to mention keeping your speed in the 15 mph+ zone.

I like to believe that I can avoid this type of problem by doing that.
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Old 10-25-05, 10:26 AM   #13
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Originally Posted by pleaseassist
Aside from preventing an action, which is rare, a gun can only do harm and usually to the intended user. That pepper spray seems like a great idea although possibly awkward to implement while fleeing.
I'm glad the OP is safe and I second the notion that the first rule of effective self defense is to be aware of your surroundings.

That said, the notion that a gun 'usually' does harm to the user is utter horsepucky. Please cite some documented instances of a gun being taken away and used by the perp, if you can, then I will provide dozens of instances to each of yours where having a firearm had the opposite effect - either doing harm to the perp or helping to totally avoid violence in the first place. Your claims only serve to propagate myths and make more people victims. Everytime someone repeats one of these myths cooked up by the anti-gun lobby, I do believe a killer smiles, because the last thing he wants to confront is an armed victim.

Tell me, if some sweet young thing points a gun at you, are you going to rush her and try to disarm her, or are you gonna crap your pants and plead with her not to shoot? In my experience, the latter is the usual reaction.

Have you ever had a gun pointed at you? Been shot or shot at? Used a firearm? Shot at someone? Police experience? Military combat experience? On what experience do you base your claim?

That said, I would NOT recommend that ANYONE choose a firearm for self defense unless they meet two criteria:

1. Training, lots and lots of training. When under stress, people tend to forget simple things they might 'know' but do not practice daily. When under stress, training is what saves you, good old repetition until your body remembers itself what the mind tends to forget. Not only training...but correct training...IMHO there are too many bozos out there passing themselves off as firearms experts.

2. You must have the will to use lethal force. If you don't have that will, if you don't know darn well down deep in your soul that you WILL kill to protect yourself, don't bother with a gun. If you don't have the will, the odds greatly increase that, yes, it is going to be taken away and used against you...or at the very least not useful to you.

Ok got that off my chest, now back to your normal programming.
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Old 10-25-05, 10:44 AM   #14
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Aside from preventing an action, which is rare, a gun can only do harm and usually to the intended user.

B.S.
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Old 10-25-05, 11:42 AM   #15
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Your best defence is observation, which seem to have used, followed by tactical withdrawal which you need to work on.
I am really surprised that muggers targeted a moving cyclist. Most muggers disregard cyclists as hard to chase and poor picking.
The most typical type of attack on cyclist (albeit a very rate type) is the ambush on a narrow path using an obstruction, or pouncing on a rider with a puncture or mechanical fault.

Do keep your bike tuned and reliable for a fast getaway. Work on your lighting system to eliminate the gliches and use the most punture resistant tyres you can.
You have 2 weapons to hand: your bike and your U-lock. Holding a bike up and throwing it over your attacker can tie them up. A U lock can be stowed under an elastic bunji cable on top of the rear rack for instant access . Avoid long overhead strikes, use it with a flicked wrist to take sideswipes at their knee , elbow or wrist.

At least you survived the experienced and can learn from it.
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Old 10-25-05, 01:14 PM   #16
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B.S.

Not that I am anti-gun (do enjoy shooting a lot) but if you have kids and include the risk of storing deadly force around the house that changes things a bit. A gun is a very useful tool in a hard situation but if it is not handled effectively and safely the other 99.9% of the time (which means putting it beyond easy use, thereby voiding the ability to protect yourself in the house on a moments notice unless you keep it on your person 24/7). That is the main reason I don't own firearms right now. I have two three year olds that are very effective at destroying things and getting into secured areas so a gun is not even a choice for me right now (don't have the dough or room for a gun safe). Take kids out of the picture and you have a different story, but still a great liability in the hands of a person who does not know firearm safety.

In terms of instances, an acquaintance of mine and his brother in the second grade waited until the parents left the house and then went right for Dad's gun. One of them ended up dead. Dad's fault? You bet. Did that gun ever protect his family? Nope. Could it have? Yes. Just like it is usually any drivers fault when he hits a cyclist from behind or is drunk. Both situations could have been avoided if people were more careful.

I am not wholly convinced guns are effective deterents on the whole if accidents are factored in as I haven't known personally anyone who succesfully defended themselves with one (other than police officers, and I don't imply that no one has, just no one I have known) and the case mentioned above which actually did harm rather than help. I know there are cases of people defending themselves. I would be interested to see if incidents of successful defense outnumbered accidents.

Now, perhaps if the accidents win, there is a training problem with people and their deadly weapons. I guess this would be very similar to car drivers and their deadly weapons. Both are tools, both should probably require a little stiffer testing before being used legally.

I guess the real weakness with cars and guns is that any coward, moron, drunkard or even child can operate them and kill, thus the real danger. Handled appropriately they are both extremely dependable and safe.
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Old 10-25-05, 01:40 PM   #17
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Martial arts is still the best preparation (after you get that bike in good working order). With martial arts, you never have to worry about whether you remembered to bring your weapon, or whether you can reach your weapon, or whether you can remember how to use your weapon... Because you are the weapon. A basic instinct animals follow is to avoid injury when they can; this applies to human animals as well. A human "victim" who appears weak or afraid will present an opportunity with a low probability of injuring the attacker; the attacker's strategy will be to scare you into giving up what they want-- in this case, your bike, most likely. If you have the confidence to stand and fight, and are ready and willing and to take the attacker down, they have to reevaluate the situation, because their number one imperative is still to avoid injury. That's why guns are so effective-- because the attacker doesn't want to be killed. With martial arts, you're still presenting them with the possibility of serious bodily harm. And just like with the gun, the key is your ability to harm them, and your willingness to follow through on that. That doesn't mean that some idiot will always back down-- that's why you need to be prepared to follow up on the threat you present-- but most people want easier pickings. Finally, with martial arts, all these other self-defense with weapons options are still available, only you can use them effectively. Imagine the difference between an untrained cyclist using a bicycle chain/padlock combination as a weapon, and martial artist who has practiced using the bicycle chain/padlock combination as a weapon. Put one martial artist on the street, armed with a chain he has practised with, and put him up against those two guys who chased you last night, and watch them **** bricks when the martial artist stands and fights.
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Old 10-25-05, 01:45 PM   #18
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One thing I might've tried in your situation is to acknowledge them. Just a "Hey, what's up?" just to feel them out.
Bad idea in my opinion. Muggers typically like to close distance by striking up a conversation. (Got a match?). Don't help them out by starting up the conversation.
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Old 10-25-05, 02:07 PM   #19
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Sorry to hear about the scary situation.

To be more confident:

- Fix up your bike, like others have said, so it is always ready to accelerate when you are.

- Get your lights working.

- Ride nearer to or in-line with vehicle traffic to get farther away from people on the sidewalk. Let the motor vehicles run interference for you. Don't ride against traffic.

- Consider an electronic siren or emergency whistle that you can use in an emergency. Muggers hate attention.
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Old 10-25-05, 02:23 PM   #20
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Not that I am anti-gun (do enjoy shooting a lot) but if ............
First off, I agree with you. Guns are not the be all/end all choice of self defense, there is a time and a place. Secondly I am not looking to get into a gun debate. I really just don't like the growing notion that people are helpless,clueless, incompetent boobs, and that having a gun means you will probably just hurt yourself, or that it will be taken away from you and used against you.

The best self-defense option is flight. When that is not possible, some form of fast acting, physical deterrent that you know how to use is the next best option. A gun just happens to be a very effective one.
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Old 10-25-05, 03:00 PM   #21
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The best self-defense option is flight. When that is not possible, some form of fast acting, physical deterrent that you know how to use is the next best option.
I agree. Even with martial arts training-- my preferred self-defense option-- the best self-defense is avoidance. That means not going into dangerous situations if your common sense tells you it's a bad idea--maybe being on the wrong street at the wrong time. It means avoiding a fight rather than looking for one-- giving the other person and yourself the chance to walk away. It means continuing on your way if you're on your bike, rather than stopping to fight. Under some circumstances, it may mean flight-- this is a judgement call. If you're seriously outnumbered, or if you're facing deadly weapons, better to run. I question whether flight is always the best option, because it just triggers that predator/prey response, as these guys demonstrated the other night. And martial arts is still the best fast acting physical deterrent, because a martial artist can turn anything at hand into a weapon. And the martial artist always has one weapon that's always at hand-- the martial artist himself/herself.
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Old 10-25-05, 03:07 PM   #22
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even a cop will tell you a gun is your last resort. YOur best weapon is your eyes.

S*** like this happens anywhere, and you're right. It's not fair that two scumwads should prevent you from doing your daily routine. Imagine how it feels to be female and have someone say "gee, you shouldn't have been walking around there- it's dangerous!" Well, is it fair that i have to go out of my way because of creeps? Of course, the truth is most assaults are actually from someone you know, but that's another story. I don't go out of my way to court danger, but I'm always AWARE of my surroundings.

Once, my sister was nearly assaulted while walking home from a party as a teenager- a total stranger. And this was in a nice suburb! Truth be told, I was always more afraid walking home at night in the burbs, it's dark and creepy a lot of times. When I moved down to the city, i would walk around late at night and not be worried. FOr one thing the streets are brightly lit, and there are places open 24 hours, so if something DOES happen you can always duck in.
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Old 10-25-05, 04:02 PM   #23
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I question whether flight is always the best option, because it just triggers that predator/prey response, as these guys demonstrated the other night.
I think your right, I really just meant if it's possible, and of course avoidance is included.
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Old 10-25-05, 04:41 PM   #24
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I don't blame you for being scared, but you have to figure that this kind of thing is pretty reare, and unlikely to happen again. You might want to check with your local police to find routes that do not go through high crime areas, My P.D. has online maps at their web site that shows crimes committed recently in any area. Yours might too, or at least have this data available by phone.

I agree that martial arts is a good way to go. You might want to start off with a basic self-defense class and see how you like it. I also agree about keeping the bike in good repair. Practice fast starts and sprints in every gear combination. Speed, as others have said, is your best defense on the bike, along with agility.

I live in the inner city and have commuted at 11:30 PM every night for 3 years now. I really feel pretty safe. Anything can happen, but I know that I'm more likely to fall and hurt myself than I am to be hurt by a mugger or even in a car-bike accident. Be brave, be strong.
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Old 10-25-05, 07:54 PM   #25
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I'm glad the OP is alright. I always travel with pepper spray, knife, and a bright holster mounted Scorpion or Surefire flashlight. Hearing about the OP's chain problems frighten me. I'm glad I commute on my fixed gear, but chain problems can affect those as well. My friend and I do a lot of our riding at night in down town. We always come across people on the streets at night, either waiting for the bus or just hanging out. The first option is always to haul out of there, running as many lights as we can. It sucks to think of everyone as a potential assailant, but whatever it takes to get me home. I tried listening to a radio with one earbud when I first started commuting, but it just made me feel so disconnected from my surroundings that I stopped before a another block passed. I'm more concerned with drivers than I am muggers, though. You can usually see the footmounted miscreants, it's the caged ones that can cause some big problems. Again, glad you're safe.
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