First, let me say I always use a mirror when bicycling. Nerdy? Who cares? Cyclists gotta see what’s coming up behind them.
Recently while out on the road, a pickup passed me. Followed by a sudden flashback. I can’t believe I never blogged about this before… it would have been therapeutic. It all happened years ago…
I was riding along a rural asphalt road with virtually no traffic. As I neared civilization, I saw an old pickup gaining on me, so I moved to the right. The pickup slowed to match my speed, as cautious drivers will do. Since the road ahead was clear, I waved to signal the driver he could pass me.
But the truck stayed just behind my shoulder. I rolled my eyes and waved again, bigger this time. Nothing.
I found this Mildly Annoying.
I sped up. The truck matched my speed. I slowed. So did the truck. Glare on the windshield kept me from seeing the driver. What was he up to?
This behavior was definitely Suspicious.
How about a broad, sweeping gesture that clearly shouts, “I’m small and slow! There is no oncoming traffic! Go on around me so we can be out of each other’s way!”
Nothing doing. This guy stuck like glue.
He had now ramped up to Intimidating.
This went on for some minutes. We were approaching a semi-rural neighborhood. By now my nerves were taut, heart rate elevated. Why the heck didn’t he JUST PASS ME??
The situation had become Terrifying.
Something had to give. Up ahead on the right was a street which I knew to be a long cul-de-sac lined with several houses. I hatched a plan: If this guy doesn’t get off my wheel by the time we reach that street, I will turn in suddenly. If he keeps going straight, fine. If he follows me onto the street, I will rush to the nearest house, screaming bloody murder, and pound on the front door.
Praying someone would be home, I took a deep breath and steeled myself for action. Half a block before the street, the pickup pulled forward so the front bumper was even with me.
Now what… is he gonna run me off the road?
But the truck continued to pass, going about 1/100 mile an hour faster than me. Eventually the cab was even with my handlebar. What sort of monster had been harassing me? I dared a look.
A tiny, white-haired woman in the passenger seat barely showed above the bottom of the window. Beyond her, the driver clutched the steering wheel straight-armed, his jaw clenched, wide eyes fixed on the road. He had to be 95 at the youngest, and twice as scared as I was.
Since ‘Rip Van Winkle’ was finally passing, I slowed down so he could move to the right sooner and both our pulse rates could return to within a mile of normal.
I’m thankful I didn’t need my Death On The Backroads Avoidance Plan. Now, of course, we have cell phones that allow us to call 9-1-1 quickly (or even accidentally!)
But I’m glad to know I had a plan. You know… just in case the drama had been real.
Thanks for reading!