Tossing and Tortured 'Till Dawn

I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Things Shouted at Me While Cycling (mostly From Moving Vehicles):

For some reason, people in cars often shout things at people on bikes. I don’t really understand this – do they think we’re that funny? Is it because the equipment de-humanizes us? What is it about someone out riding that makes a driver think, “let’s shout things at him!” I don’t run, so I don’t really know, but I don’t often hear runners complain about the things drivers shout at them.

I suppose I should replace “people on bikes” with “cyclists,” because I don’t think the random guy riding home slowly from work with a backpack and jeans gets shouted at in the same way. Somehow wearing cycling gear gets their thought process on shouting, but it still doesn’t make much sense.

A lot of times, these folks aren’t very nice, shouting obscenities, sitting on horns, what have you, but I’m not going to talk about that. Though the fact that this has to exist is a little disheartening.

In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had a surprising lack of outright obscenities, and even a few supportive comments, though this sort of sudden “support” from strange moving vehicles I could usually do without. I do realize they’re probably usually attempting to mock me, but, whatever. In addition to the usual multitude of unintelligible whoops and hollers, I’ve gotten:
  • "Go Lance!" -- Several times. Logical, I guess, but still weird. When you see some guys playing basketball, do you shout “Go Michael Jordan”?
  • ”Wow, good job!” -- This one from a soccer mom-type lady as I’d just sprinted up a fairly steep hill. Do I get a gold star?
  • ”Nice ass!” -- This one twice. Once, from a couple of younger guys, you know the type, who think they are VERY cool with flipped-up-collared Polo shirts and cargo shorts. The second time from a pair of jailbait-looking young ladies in daddy’s Mercedes, who then swerved from giggling so much.
  • This last one wasn’t from a car, but a fitness rider out for a ride himself on a hybrid/upright type bike. He was going up the steepest hill in the area – kudos for that – at about 4 miles per hour. “Hey, *puff* that’s cheating! *huff* No fair!” he said as I passed him at road-bike-type-speeds. That got a laugh.
Okay, so, seriously, you only get to whoop and cheer and yell at cyclists riding by you when they are racing. If you want to go camping in the mountains, get drunk, paint a bunch of grafitti on the road, and then shout and cheer at guys on bikes as they ride past, then go find a bike race to watch.


  • At 6:29 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    My personal favorites are:

    "Get a f****** car!"
    "Get off the f****** road!"

    The former is usually shouted by someone who would struggle to walk from his apt/home to his car w/o pausing to catch his breath.

    The latter is usually shouted by pick-up truck drivers. I guess I've inconvenienced them with my mere presence.

    My all time favorite things on the bike are getting punched or having stuff thrown at me while riding (happens mainly on my touring bike, while commuting to/from work).

    Oh, joy!

    In general, the longer the motorist and cyclist are together on the road, or the longer the "line of sight" from the motorist to the cyclist, the more likely of an event of some type. Give 'em time to cook something up, and they will.

  • At 8:58 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    As a runner, you do get comments. Most of them are surprisingly witty. "Run!" is an example of a comment that I receive a lot from pedestrians more than motorists.

    I think that the reason that you don't notice runners talking about this as much is that there are more of them, so their community is not as tightly knit.

  • At 11:49 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    "Get on the F@@@@@@ bike path!"

    Screamed at us, on a steep climb, by an enormous woman in a tiny Dodge sedan who was forced to slow down to a vehicle passing us in our same direction up the hill. We were on the edge of the road and giving the passing car as much room as possible. Implied in her hysterical yell and gestures was the idea that bicycles did not belong on the road, especially if a multi-use path was nearby.

    I'm a bicycle commuter who does 36 miles roundtrip 5 days a week, and evening rush hour is always the toughest. I'm very good about positioning my bike and causing the least amount of trouble for all parties - in other words, I cooperate as much as a cyclist can. It's more humorous than anything to watch some of these angry people go berserk in their cars for absolutely no reason - their gesticulating, mad body language, contorted faces - it's terribly obvious that I'm not their problem at all.

    I have, however, an even better category for you: things said to mass transit users in Los Angeles.

    In my college years, while waiting for an RTD bus, two gorgeous superbikes pulled up in tandem to my intersection late at night. Their exhausts, echoing off the surrounding arroyos and hills, preceded their arrival. Looking at me sitting on a bus bench, one rider pushed up his visor and turned to the other.

    "Look at the bus scum," he said. I was devestated.

    I have loved vehicles (Ginettas, Lancias, Caterhams) since my youth and motos as well and, of course, bicycles, and here were two members of my supposed clan calling me scum.

    Also, just like one of the responders above, people have twice thrown fast food packaging at me while waiting for a bus in Los Angeles. I think one had some pie still in the styrofoam.

    One thing I will never understand. Good cyclists will slow a car down for only a few seconds or even microseconds, and only when absolutely necessary, but the drivers still go crazy at such a short delay in their progress. It makes little sense and again points to the real problem being on their side, not ours.

    Finally, a good word on drivers. Three times in the last several months, I have slowed down and paused on a side street on a tight, narrow climb because I can tell that a heavy truck/tractor trailer is behind me pulling a load in low gear, and each time the drivers have given me a friendly toot of their horn as a "Thank You." These moments make up for all the imbeciles we deal with on a quotidian basis.


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