I’m climbing my local hill during lunch break and the road is blocked, as the work crew is clearing out a slide. I ask the “STOP sign guy” how long is it going to be?
Another man next to him is staring at me: he’s the driver of red pickup truck who passed me a couple minutes before, in the middle of a tight turn, with a questionable move crossing the double yellow lines.
I’m always amazed how some drivers seem to think that double yellow lines disappear when there’s a bike on the road.
He’s probably in his 60s, wearing his rain jacket and since we’re all waiting this is a good time to tell me all about how he really feels about cyclists being on the road.
His tone is angry, lot’s of F-bombs here and there for good measure, he waves his finger in front of my face and his message is that I really should not be on the road. Ever. Because my bike does not belong there.
What I love about biking is that it relaxes me, it makes me a better person. And it shows. If I was driving my car, at this point I would be going medioeval on the little angry man.
But I’m riding my bike, I’m climbing a hill, suffering elevates our spirit, or so they say.
And so I smile and say “That’s very nice of you sir, I appreciate your feedback, thanks for letting me know…”. He’s not happy, he walks back to his red pick up truck, hops on and slams the door, without any further words.
Meanwhile the “STOP sign guy”, who witnessed the whole exchange, turns into a “SLOW sign guy” and politely tells me I can proceed.
I roll, once again ahead of the red pickup truck, thru debris and mud. I’m not upset, but my head is spinning with questions. How did he get so angry? And why? How much inconvenience did I cause him? Did I slow him down? He wanted to be first to the slide, where we had to wait minutes…?
For a second I think at all the possible answers I could have given, that I have as much right as he does to be on the road, I could have engaged in an argument. That would have probably ruined my day. While now I’m still happy, and I feel pity for him.
I’m ready to blame it on the current administration, who’s telling us that it’s ok to disrespect diversity and minorities (that’s what cyclists are on the road) and be vocal about it.
What would it take me to attack somebody and tell him he should not be where he is, he should not exist, or exist in some other parallel universe, not mine? And how would I feel about it? Hate comes from fear. What is he afraid of? That he’ll crash into another car while passing a bicycle? Is he afraid to hurt me?
I’m looking back, waiting to hear the pick up truck catch me and pass me, maybe run me over, again in another questionable spot, but it’s silence. The angry man probably got home, maybe turned around, no sign of him…
As I attack the last segment of the climb, so aptly called “THIS IS SPARTA!!” on Strava, a positive thought emerges: he let it all out, in his hostile words.
Sometimes the only way to smell the hate your brain is soaking into is to let it all out. When that hate is met with kindness, it echoes back, we can hear it, and smell it. And that is the real power of kindness.
Dalai Lama words echo in my head:
“Be Kind whenever possible. It is always possible.”
Time to get back down to earth, focus on the slippery 5mi/2k descend and keep the rubber side down. Work awaits at the office. The slide is cleared. Nothing to see here.