Had a 50 mile ride Saturday, and about halfway through it I was marveling at how no drivers had given me any problems, how all the drivers around me, in fact, had been sweeties, giving me plenty of room and being patient when they were stuck behind me as I climbed narrow roads with no shoulders. I waved thank-you a lot on this ride.
I should have realized thinking about this would jinx me, though. On Chesterfield Airport Road--two lanes each way and a center turning lane--some jerk with the entire road available buzzed me. He must have come within six inches of me. I couldn't restrain myself; I flipped him off. He must have been looking at me in his rear-view mirror--perhaps having a good chuckle about nearly running me off the road--because he immediately flipped one right back at me.
Calling this guy a Neanderthal would be an insult to the entire Neanderthal species. Neanderthals, in fact, would not be so stupid as to turn into a parking lot right after buzzing a cyclist. This guy was no Neanderthal; he turned into the Smokehouse parking lot, and well, I try to be a reasonable person, but Sub-Magnon had introduced his prominent brow ridge into my otherwise perfect ride. I turned in after him, rode slowly by his mini-van, and uttered an appropriate insult. He shouted after me, "Why don't you get off the road!"
I have good brakes; they stopped me almost instantly so I could turn around and shout back, "Make me." Sub-Magnon, a pudgy fellow around my age, stepped out of the mini-van toward me, and I took a few steps toward him, explaining to him in firm, even-cadenced speech peppered with expletives that I had every right to be on the road. Sub-Magnon's female companion was distraught, worried, I imagine, that her sweetie would be beaten, which I had no intention of doing; I don't do things like that, and I stayed a good ten feet away from Sub-Magnon, but I was determined to shake this guy up at least as much as he had tried to shake me up. In cycling clothes, helmet, and sunglasses I must be an imposing figure: six feet, two inches tall and 250 pounds. After a heated interchange, Sub-Magnon told me to get a life, go figure. I decided to take his advice and continue on with the life I have. I rode off.
I feel a little bad because I forced several bystanders to listen to some inappropriate speech, but I also let them know exactly what this guy had done. I couldn't let go of my anger until I had ridden many more miles, but the Zen of cycling eventually returned and I had an absolutely perfect second half of my ride. I hope I shook this guy up enough that he could not let go of his anger for a long time.