He sounded like an ambulance of anger, the way he yelled out the
window at us. All red faced and scary and wrong. “GET off the phuckinn
rRr….” was all I got before his rage was lost in diesel smoke and speed.
On any 100km spin I will meet a ‘him’ at least once. Some mental loon,
who feels the need to wind down his window and bark displeasure at my
cycling. I will meet his brother who is not as publicly brave and will
use his horn like an Egyptian taxi driver to beep general disgust at my
existence on the road. I will meet their uncle, the HGV driver who
expresses himself through the medium of late steering and noisy air
brakes. Finally, their illegitimate sister’s son, bred from a three-way
orgy of strong lager, engine oil and an inexpensive prostitute. I meet
the wing mirror of his tiny, loud car, as it squeezes through the void,
one micron thick, adjacent to my elbow.
This family used to be my enemy number one while out training. Their
actions, were the opponent to the joy of every cycle. They transformed
the delicate pleasure of a spin; to the worry of being wounded in
For thirty years I have watched increasing traffic volumes and
increased crashes. I have watched roads get narrower or cars get wider
or me get older. I have watched friends die at the hands of this
family. This frecking family of fat, balding women and hairy, big
breasted men. 1 million deep breaths later, I have now found peace.
Something has happened to let me evolve beyond their rage; I have
discovered a place of harmony and my training has found gentle
synchronization of the turning wheel. After 25 years of reaction and
over reaction, I have found a cloud to rest on and save my spin.
As a teen and in my early 20s my reaction met the hostile drivers head
on. Their anger only nearly matched my fury. My rage at bad driving and
my life endangerment, caused roof banging, window thumping, door
opening, and multi tool throwing responses. They were instant and
without thought. Waving like the pilot of a broken plane with no
parachute. Shouting like the driver of a train with no brakes; ready to
fight like an Olympic dancer.
50,000 miles on , I settled somewhat. My testosterone levels calmed,
the starving in Africa were less on my mind and the family of the
devil-bad drivers mostly got a lewd hand gesture. Some Civil servants
turned tank drivers exploded, at the thought of some lycra clad nancy
holding them up for six whole seconds on their way home to the big girl
and ugly children. By and large they passed, closely and nosily,
returning the gesture. You can only stick one finger up so far.
I have witness friends pull drivers from cars, punch glass and even
skilfully slap the drivers wing mirror off an oncoming car. Screaming
at a 70mph missile is not the answer.
A few years ago I adopted the Napoleon’s plan to startle and confuse
the enemy with which I do still love. To every irritated horn
blasting,… I waved, like a 7 year old. It is still a priceless
reaction to their fuming, steering wheel thumping anger. Mouthing a ‘Hi
Ya’ with a princess hand flutter and open eyes. Turns anger to
confusion, then frustration as they race away “NO …I meant….. , do I
know?… a aw”
All that anger and lost kms in trying to memorize numbers when I never
call the police…..It is over. I don’t know if it is maturing into my
place on the road, but contentment has issued a notice on my spins and
it is nailed up to stay. Where I found peace is in an unusual,
insensitive character trait which I would have been difficult to admit
off the saddle : The verb to Condescend.
The horns and dangerous overtaking are met with pure condescending,
silent rebuke. I find it harmlessly offsets their violent anger in my
smug process. Instead of yelling What a fucking wanker! I think how
‘his’ life must be just awful, to make him so angry. He can keep his
anger , not share it, I don’t want it and I wont accept it.
Life has polluted his soul by a simultaneous series of events to make
him so upset….. by a cyclist. Late for his shit work, or early for his
cheating wife. We have done nothing wrong, he is damaged and we are
something to vent at. His unwanted fury now makes me simply glad I am
not him. I will not even absorb one bit of his anger, just settle back
into my space and celebrate my shinny spokes and my life not being his.
What ever makes him so incensed is his problem, not mine.
There is a semi-spiritual realization that we have one chance at this
life and we should try as hard as we can to be happy. In ten minutes, I
have a descent with 5, 80 degree hairpins that will give me goosebumps
– his horn blurting has raised his already high blood pressure, brought
on by years of inactivity and stress from marrying a pretty, but nasty
wife and he will die sooner than me, unhappy.
Shout all you want you muppet. I’m relaxed, doing something I love. You
are jailed by the disappointment of your life and the aggressive
driving just illustrates the point.
Life is better pedaled