At least face to face. Last year on one of my longer rides, I was nearly run down by a young teenager driving a molested Dodge Neon (Big wing on the back and ground effects…all primer colored of course). The guy in the Neon drove on but Today was a little different.
I had just finished my last interval of pushing a very hard gear since I don’t have any hills in my area for repeats. Winding down, pedaling easy, trying to regain my senses and about 6 miles from the house. I had been passed and met probably 10 vehicles since I had been out with no incident. Most of the other drivers I even knew and they would give me a little wave as they slowed and passed.
If you look at a map, I live in the very Southeast corner of Missouri which is known as the “Bootheel”. It’s the part that actually looks like it should belong in Arkansas. Apparently a wealthy landowner didn’t want to be in Arkansas when the state was formed, so congress shaped in a “boot heel” to accommodate him. This is very flat very open farm country with roads that look a lot like they were laid out in grids (which I’m sure they were). I have lived here all my life and there are a lot of people in this area that you might call “Hicks”. We’ll call them “Bootheelians” for now.
As I was recovering from my interval, I noticed a white pickup truck approaching from the front and I also saw that a minivan was approaching from the rear. The minivan seemed to be flying, so I eased over to the right so that I could bail if I had to. Sure enough, the van blew by me the same time the truck reached me. The van had to have been travelling at least 65 mph. This is a rural blacktop road with a 55 mph limit and no shoulder. When the van blew by, I was doing everything I could to keep my wheel right on the white line. Two inches left and the van’s mirror would’ve hit me and two inches right I would’ve dropped off a 6-8 inch lip into nothing but mud and surely crashed.
Needless to say, my adrenaline shot sky high and I politely extended my left arm/hand in a gesture to tell the driver I thought they were “number 1”. This may not have been the right thing to do, I don’t know, but at the time I didn’t really even think about it…it was just reaction. To my surprise, the van stops dead in the road.
Many of you may not know what I look like, but I’m about 6’2″ tall and weigh 320 lbs right now and it ain’t all fat. Also in being former Military and police, I am not known for running away from a confrontation. Don’t misunderstand…I’m a really easy going guy, but I’m not afraid to stand up. I pedaled toward the van’s driver side, approaching cautiously so I could size up what I was about to be facing and also so I could unclip and ditch the bike if I needed to. When I made it to the rear taillight, the window rolled down and I was looking at a woman with very short hair and glasses. Through the tinted glass I could also make out a man sitting in the passenger seat.
The lady started the van in motion, rolling just fast enough so that I couldn’t get to the window while saying, “You wanna do somethin with that finger?” Now picture this in your best Jeff Foxworthy/Ron White voice but higher pitched. By this time I had calmed way down and decided to just try to be nice and talk to her. I replied, “Ma’am, you really shouldn’t drive that close to a cyclist.” Her reply? “Well, you shouldn’t be on the God D__n road!” At that point, I kind of raised my voice a little because she was pulling away a little more by now and said, “That’s ok, because I have a video camera on my bike, this is all recorded. I’ve got your license number and I will be calling the Sheriff’s Department.” Before I got the words “Sheriff’s Department” out of my mouth, she floored it. If the minivan could’ve, she would’ve smoked the tires, all the while crossing over in front of me almost like she wanted to force me off the road.
The rest of the trip home was pretty uneventful. I called one of my old buddies at the police department and ran the lady’s tags just to make sure it wasn’t someone local that I needed to be looking out for in the future. Luckily she wasn’t as she lives about an hour north of me.
Of course I don’t have a camera on the bike, but this makes me think that it might not be a bad idea to get one:)