An interesting thing happened to me while out on a ride a few weeks ago. I was riding with my friend Amy, down a nice stretch of country road, when a car passed us. He got about a 1/4 mile ahead of us, then suddenly stopped. He then put the car in reverse, backed up a few feet, then pulled forward again. He did this several more times, and now Amy and I are looking at each other, as we are steadily approaching the vehicle, trying to figure out what this person is going to do next.
Most of the angry, anti cycling drivers we encounter on the road are the "horn blowing, hand raising, what the hell's the matter with you people" variety, but this guy was different. Subtle. Stealthy. Amy and I slowed to a crawl, and I watched as Amy slowly unclipped the holder on her top tube that contained the pepper spray, much in the same way a police officer would unclip his holster while approaching a car suspected of being stolen. The car suddenly shifted out of reverse, and drove off. Our sense of relief was short lived, as we now saw the vehicle had turned around and was coming back toward us! With a mixture of fear and adrenaline, we braced for a showdown. That classic phrase, "ohhhh shit, here we go..." tumbled from my lips, much the way it does when one is about to enter a prolonged argument with their spouse.
But as the car approached, it did not speed up or swerve, blow its horn or flash its lights. It gently cruised by, slow enough for me to see a young man driving the car, wearing what was obviously auto mechanics clothing, complete with name tags.
Can you imagine this poor guy, out checking the transmission on a Buick LeSabre, suddenly being attacked with pepper spray by two spandex clad lunatics?!?! I suddenly envisioned my long Saturday rides being replaced by roadside cleanups on HWY 401 and anger management classes.
This little incedent reminded me that not all drivers are out to get us. It is very easy to get caught up in that "US vs THEM" mentality out there on the road. I know I sometimes do. There will always be that rouge, type A lunatic behind the wheel, wanting to teach us a lesson. Can he/she be saved? I don't know. I do know that communication, instruction and a friendly wave or smile to a driver that shares the road with us will go a long way.
" Mrs. Jacobs, Hi , this is Tony from the garage. I apologize, but your car will not be ready today. You would not BELIEVE what happened to my mechanic today.............."