DISCLAIMER: This is a major rant and you probably don't want to read it, but I have to vent somewhere and don't want to tell any of my loved ones or they'll freak out.
About 9 days ago, I conked out while reclining in a weird position, and really hurt my knees. (They still hurt.) Two days later, my mom fell and broke both of her arms and her nose. I've spent most of the time since then at the hospital, or taking care of my mom at home, or studying and doing midterms (now you don't have to ask why I gained back five pounds in four days).
Today I finally got to go ride again, to return a DVD to the video store one town over, 11 miles away. A block out of the house, my leg was hitting my water bottle, and I realized that, when my sister knocked my beautiful bike over last week, it had bent the bottle cage (which also explains why I got the bottle stuck in the bottom of my pants on the Night Ride and almost fell over while going up a hill).
I was about 2 miles into the ride, and the headwind was battering me, and my knees hurt, and I wasn't sure I really wanted to do it anymore, but I kept on. Once I got off the highway, out of the wind, I noticed that my bike was handling really sloppily. Every time I pedal, the handlebars (and, obviously, the front wheel) move to one side or the other, and I feel like I'm all over the place. To me this means that if I pedal while going down a hill, or go over 25mph, I'm going to get shimmy and die. Also my brakes aren't "working that well." I can stop fine in regular conditions, but can't stop on fast descents. My favorite thing is to go 40 mph down a hill and laugh at the top of my lungs. So that's out.
So I get to the video store, drop the thing off, call home to let someone know I'm on my way back, and head out. I'm in this strip-mall sort of thing, in the parking lot. As I'm pulling across the outlet of the McDonald's parking, an oncoming truck approaches ahead and to the left of me, and a woman in a sedan pulls up perpendicular to me, on the right. I'm already going in front of her; she doesn't look my direction at all, and keeps going. I say "hey! hey! hey!" but not loud enough, and I don't know what to do because I don't know what that truck is doing, and I can't go backwards, but I don't want to dash between two moving vehicles. She finally sees me, slams on her brakes, and HONKS HER HORN AT ME. I was willing to give her the benefit of the doubt as long as she didn't run me over, but when she honked at me, I lost it. I turned around and flipped her off, and I gave her the gnarliest stink-eye in my vast repertoire. Then when I was further away and could safely do so, I turned around again and gave her another stink eye. She pulled up behind me and I turned around to glare at her again, and saw her window opening, which, because of the honking, I thought meant TERRIBLE CONFLICT.
LADY: Sweetheart, I--
ME: WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?!
LADY: What I wanted to say was that I didn't mean to honk at you--my hand slipped.
ME: YOU ALMOST RAN ME OVER!
LADY'S HUSBAND: WE DID NOT--GROW UP!
LADY: I know--I'm sorry, dear, but I didn't see you.
ME: THEN YOU SHOULD HAVE LOOKED!
LADY: I know. I am very sorry about that. I didn't mean to honk at you.
ME: WELL, THANK YOU. THEN I AM SORRY ABOUT THAT. [read: sorry about flipping her off, not anything else, and my apology may have been undercut some by my enraged tone of voice]
LADY: Thank you. [drives away]
AUUUUGH. The lady was really cool, even though I was pretty much freaking out on her. (And she shouldn't have almost run me over, obviously.) It helped a lot that she was apologetic and wasn't trying to blame me for it, even though her jackass husband was a jackass. I couldn't have stayed cool like she did, so I give her props for that.
It was totally her fault, but I wish I'd been able to avoid the situation better. Hopefully at least she will be less likely to do that again, although I'm not sure about her husband...
So I wobbled away back up the hills and down the dales, and I kept thinking more about how if I get run over, and I live, my family will all have to quit their jobs to take care of both me and my mom, who can only just feed herself now. I got to the highway and a mile or so down, took a turn that lengthens the ride but puts me on a beautiful country road instead of that stupid highway.
Then when I got back in town proper, a guy wanted to make a left turn in front of me, from my right, but he waited for me, politely. The next guy who pulled up to his right (to make a right turn) couldn't see me from the other side of the truck. And he didn't look. But I knew what he was going to do, so I pulled left and slowed down, and sort of peeked around that big truck. The little car to the right gunned it and flew off in front of me. Instead of flipping them off, though, I wagged my finger at them, which is my second favorite insulting gesture and usually makes people feel dumb more effectively than the bird. But I had made sure not to get in his way.
I have an AirZound horn, and I just got a new bell, but I have literally nowhere to put any of it because of my interruptor brake levers and frame pump. I'm going to have to figure that out.
So, anyway, not very fun. I pretty much only ride my bike because I like it, but I hurt so much, and my bike seems so flaky (and I can't afford to have someone look at it so I can go 40mph), and I have so much responsibility right now, that it seems sort of like a bum deal.
Okay. I think I'm done.