Je pose, donc je suis.
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Odense, Denmark
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Taking the Lane in Denmark: En Dansk Marmalade
I don't know how to translate 'jackass' into Danish, but 'jam' is 'marmalade', so you know where this is going...
Coming home from hill repeats, such as can be done in this flat corner of the world, I was riding along a narrow, two-lane road with no centerline and no striping. They had apparently just laid down some new asphalt/oil/tar/whatever, but only on the outer meter or two of each lane, so that the middle of the road -- half of each lane -- was dry.
After riding through the tar for about 20 meters, both of my tires looked liked donuts rolled in coconuts -- disgusting, black coconuts -- so I chose to ride in the dry portion of the road, essentially in the left wheel track. Several cars passed me without incident, and then some guy in a Ford pickup didn't like it, started passing me on a corner, honked his horn, and basically squeezed me over to the edge.
This was extremely rude and dangerous, of course, and I would consider it assault (your mileage may vary). On top of that, as often happens, it got him absolutely nowhere, since there was a stop sign with a line of three cars just around the bend. Irritated, I rode up to the side of the truck and asked if he spoke English.
"Nej," he replied.
So as I tried in broken Danish to explain why I was riding where I was, he got fed up, called me a "f***ing cyklist" and drove off. At least he knew some English. I did manage to get his plate number, and I quickly entered it into my mobil. I wasn't sure quite what to do, but I was stewing so much, that I decided to call the police.
So while I am repeating XX##### to myself over and over, trying to drown out the voice on the phone saying "1-1-2. Please wait. 1-1-2. Please wait..." a man finally answers.
"Write this down!" I blurted out. "XX #####"
"XX #####. Before I forget it."
"What are you talking about?"
"X-X-#-#-#-#-#. It's a license plate. I'll explain in a minute."
After I explained what was going on, he wasn't terribly helpful, but having the plate number, he said he "might" call him and talk to him. So, I hung up and went on my way, still stewing a little over it all. Now, the truck had driven off in the direction I was headed, but there were three or four cross-roads up ahead, and the chances of finding him were slim. But my uncanny sense of direction was dead-on, and lo-and-behold, about 5km up the third turn, I found the truck parked at his house! I decided I would at least try to explain to him my side of the story.
I knocked on the door, but before he answered, a HUGE German Shepherd started barking very aggressively from my left and lunging at the fence that was holding him in. I waited patiently, trying not to look intimidated, and eventually the driver opens the door. It turned out he's about 6 foot giant and well over 200 pounds, wearing a t-shirt with the arms cut off and no pants, just boxers. In the US, this man would certainly go by the name Bubba. Or maybe Junior, if he had a sense of humor.
Keep in mind I'm about 5'10", 155lbs., wearing goofy shoes, a helmet, sunglasses, and, having forgotten to zip up my jersey on this hot day, proudly displaying my bib shorts every time the breeze picks up. But my little Inner Greg recognized the absurdity of the situation, so I preceded onward, and tried to explain to him, firmly, yet somewhat politely -- even apologizing for my bad Danish -- why I was riding where I was, and that he needs to be more cautious in these situations.
He would have none of it. I got the same lame excuses you'd expect in the US, only in Danish: you must ride to the right; I can't pass you around the corner (as if he could safely even I were riding to the right); no, I shouldn't have to wait five seconds; it's not my problem that your tires are all messed up, etc. etc. I was not rude at all, basically just asking him not to drive so 'hensynlÝs' -- inconsiderately -- in such situations. I was way more gracious than he deserved, but not knowing how to properly cuss in Danish, I had little choice.
He perked up a bit in the end when I told him that I had called the police and given them his license number. I don't know if this made him more pissed, or if it was showing surprise that I had the nerve to call them, but in the end, that was all I could do. I can't say that I know one way or the other if he will change his ways, but I thought at least some of you might like to read about this encounter.
Morals of the story:
1) The are jerks in every country.
2) Even if not helpful, calling the police can't hurt, and will calm you down at least a little.
3) Confronting a big, dumb, jerk in Denmark isn't as intimidating as in the US.
4) I really need to find the relevant laws pertaining to road positioning in Denmark.
Discuss if you wish.