This is my first summer of real road riding. I have been overall suprised at how curtious most motorist are to me. I am also very careful to be respectful of motorist and abide all laws as best I can. However, I have been equally surprised with how agressive a small minority of motorist can be even when completely unprovoked.
I met one of those agressive / crazy motorist this morning. Here's the story........
First a little background: I live on the outskirts of a small town. There was a street event going on in the center of town on main street today. I did a 50 mile ride this morning and knowing this event was happening, I avoided the downtown on my return leg to the house. In the last mile of my ride, my wife called my cell phone (which I pulled over off the the road and answered). She asked if I would stop at the store on the corner of the street entering our neighborhood and pick-up a loaf of bread. After buying the bread, I jumped back on my bike to finish the last 3/4 of mile. In that last 3/4 mile, the first 1/4 mile of it is flat, the second 1/4 imile is an unbelievable up-hill, and the last 1/4 mile is flat. The street is wide, paved, unmarked (no painted lines), has sidewalks on each side, light / residential traffic and lined with homes. The street is probably 50 - 60 feet wide.
As I started up that big hill I decided to get off the bike and walk....given I was trying to carry a loaf of bread, and that I needed to cool-down from my ride. I pulled over to the sidewalk on the right side and started to get off my bike. About that time, this guy goes blowing by me (speed limit is 25mph) in an old, beat-up SUV and missed hitting me by inches (remind you the street is at least 50 feet wide and no oncoming traffic). I did not react but remember thinking "why did he need to do that?"
Anyway, I put my bike on the sidewalk and started walking. The guy in the SUV goes up to the next little turnoff into a cuddlesac, turns around and comes back down the hill toward me. I make no jestures and was not even really looking at him till I realized he was pulling over to my side (the wrong side of the road for him). He pulls up to me with his window down. He seemed irrated and asked if I was the guy who just rode through town on Mainstreet on my bike. I said "no"...and told him that I did not come through town due to all the congestion, and suggested he had me confused with someone else. I remained calm at this point. But he is was really angry, called me a "liar" and started to drive away. He got about 10 feet or so away and slowed /stopped, looked back and started really cussing me. I started to get a little angry myself. I yelled something about "that being real brave....drive away and then start cussing me". I was surprised when he stopped his SUV and got out.....my surprise really was because: (1) I had done nothing wrong and (2) he looked about 60 years old, obviously a lifetime heavy drinker and smoker, was about 80 lbs overweight and stood about 5'5"....whereas I am 6'1", 20 years his junior, weigh a very fit 190 lbs and lift a lot of weights....I am not saying I am a tough guy, but I would not mess with anyone who looked like me.
When he stopped and I got out, I admit, my first thought was "good...well settle this now". But within a second or two, I reminded myself that the violence thing is really not what I am about and the last thing I need to do on this pretty Saturday morning is hurt this older man. I did lay down my bike and the bread and met him half way between his SUV and my bike. He blew another string of unpleasantries at me. I told him again that he had me confused with someone else. He said it did not matter; that all of us bicyclers were the same and all us of needed to be run off the road. I explained that tried my best to be respectful and share the road. He said it did not matter, we (bikers) were all A$$_holes. I was really angry at this piont and he could tell (but did not seen to care). I think I expressed my anger and he then said "why don't you hit me". I said something like "it would not take much to knock the rest of your teeth out (he was missing the front 4 and the rest looked rotten) and wipe up the sidewalk with him....but it was about this point I realized he wanted me to hit him because he was thinking about what he could get out of me ($$$$$$) after I hurt him....he was obviously someone who did not have anything but his ratty old SUV and here was this young proffessional guy who lives in a very nice neighborhood ....maybe he could get a few $$$ out of me if I got violent with him.
That's when I told him as badly I as I wanted to hit him, that really was not "who I am" and I was not going to hit him. He cussed me again and turned and walked away.
In reflection, I think he started out truly with some road-rage and aggression but decided mid-stream to see if he could capatilize ($$$$) on the situation. I am glad I did not take his bait but I do wish I had taken his picture and a picture of his license plant. Really concerning that there are folks out there with 4000 lb vehicles who have such anger toward us bikers.