In my other blog I write about A-holes with a disturbing (that there are so many) frequency, and it is fortunate that I encounter more A-holes in the dining realm than on the road…or maybe the Road Holes are much more easily forgotten due to the impersonal nature of a finger flip or a hearty cry of “get off the road.” Once in a while, though, things on the road go awry…such an incident happened this past Friday while riding in to town to visit the guys at Rasmussen’s Bike Shop…
Rewind to Friday, January 14, 2011. It was a brutally cold day but I was on a mission to bring some Tacopocalypse tacos to my guys at the bike shop. I left the house around 11:45 and headed north. When I reached the corner of McKinley and 63rd it was time for a decision to be made. Do I take 63rd straight in, or do I continue on North and East to Waterworks park to pick up the Bill Riley trail and back track to the shop? Due to time constraints the only real option was to bomb 63rd then ride through Valley Junction to the finish. The Chili pointed north and the Tacos were on a speedy path to their intended mouths.
Park Avenue was crossed quickly, then the Raccoon River Bridge was behind me. This is where things started going wrong. A few moments after traversing the RRB a car to my rear decided to lay on the horn, one continuous ear-splitting stream of assholedness fired directly into my ear holes, startling me almost into an icy accident. I slowed to a crawl, then came to a complete stop just short of the traffic light before the light at Railroad Avenue. Looking back over my shoulder I posed the classic question “what the fuck!?!” to the driver of what I now observed to be a blue Chevy pickup from around the late 80’s. The driver didn’t seem to bother rolling down his window, opting instead to flail his arms in a psychotic rage-mime. The man made no sense, pointing behind him, at me, and screaming to “get that fucking bike off the fucking road.” I raised my hands in confusion, and the driver brought his truck next to my bike.
“You ran someone off the road back there, get that fucking bike off the road” was spat through the driver’s thick mustache.
I still did not know what the hell this guy was talking about. How could I, on a bicycle, run a car off the road? It didn’t make sense, I chalked it up to the usual road rage and decided to press on. The driver of the pickup stopped a few cars back from the traffic light and another car placed itself between myself and my soon-to-be assailant. This is where things went even further south.
Pickup guy kept looking in his rear view mirror, and after five or six glances he EXITED HIS CAB AND PROCEEDED TO SCREAM AT ME. IN THE MIDDLE OF NOON TRAFFIC. In the middle of noon traffic at the corner of 63rd and Railroad in WDSM this man person decided it was time to exact some anti-bike justice on yours truly, and for no reason known to yours truly. Let’s digress for a moment.
I ride an average of 135 miles per week over the course of the year. This stretch of 63rd is 3.7 miles long. I rode this short stretch of road around 20 times during 2010 and had only a few incidents involving drivers, most of them being a thumbs up or someone yelling “that’s awesome” out an open window. Almost every driver encountered has been courteous and given me room on the road (except some enormous woman in a white mini van who actually hit me with her rear-view mirror…that’s another story). What I am saying here is that 63rd is such a tiny portion of my riding, and I have had almost no problems with drivers. That luck had run out on January 14th
I am standing over my bike, the driver of the Blue Pickup Truck was out of his vehicle and standing just behind the truck’s cab. He then proceeds to scream about how I was a danger to the road, how I ran someone off the road, that there was an accident. I still have no idea what this guy is talking about, and just look at him blankly. He then reached into the bed of his pickup and produced a roughly three foot long AXE HANDLE. A fucking AXE HANDLE! This son of a bitch decided in all of his street-justice rage that, if I wasn’t going to voluntarily remove my bike from the road, that he was going to bash me off the road. This is a man who appeared to be in his mid-50’s about 5-10 with a bushy mustache, decided to pull out a weapon to use against what he probably was thinking was (and I say this because I have been called it over 100 times) some bicycling “faggot” who caused some problem on the road. This is what I heard:
“That motherfucker didn’t hit you but THIS is!”
This, I assume, meant the Axe Handle he was coming towards me with. This is when “Fight or Flight” is a serious consideration. I opted to slowly mount my bike and go around the Axe Handle Maniac, avoiding the swing of the Axe and telling him that he should probably get in his truck and leave, as it was a green light. Looking south, 63rd had become a veritable parking lot, tens of people waiting to see what would transpire between the Mustache and the Guy On A Bike.
Just then I head the “whoop whoop” of a Police siren, it seemed that an unmarked officer was just a few cars back from the unfolding incident and upon seeing the weapon which was produced tried to intervene. The Pickup Driver jumped in his cab and tore off north on 63rd, turning left at O’Riely Auto Parts. The Unmarked car gave chase through Valley Junction to my would-be assailant who managed to lose the pursuing car upon returning to Railroad Avenue and heading east. (I was informed by Police Officers later that the car giving chase isn’t approved for high speed car chases, as it had no official lights. no problem)
I followed the chase by bike until the return to Railroad (I can’t pedal 40 in the flats), where I decided to continue on to Rassy’s to cool down and call the authorities. I dialed 911, spoke with the operator who transferred me to DMPD who informed me that I was in the jurisdiction of the WDMPD. It seems that the city is split at 63rd, northbound lanes falling within Des Moines, southbound being part of West Des Moines. While the DMPD officer transferred me to the proper agency, I was hung up on. Ok, fine. They had my name, my location, and my complaint.
Minutes later an officer from the WDMPD arrived at Rassy’s. It was then that I learned what had happened to set off Axe Person. As I was approaching the Raccoon River Bridge a pickup was speeding (not the same pickup as the Axe Person) towards me and broke hard on the bridge to avoid hitting me. The bridge was icy…it was really icy, I almost went down while crossing, and the pickup slid into the side of the bridge. I didn’t hear or see any of this as it happened BEHIND me and I was paying attention to the road conditions and traffic that was passing by. Upon hearing the news of the accident things went a little different. I was more focused first on whether I was liable in any way, and then on the safety of the driver who wrecked. The police also said they had talked to Mr. Axe Handle (as a witness to the accident). I still do not know the fate of the accident driver or Mr. Axe Handle, but as soon as I do (and if I am legally allowed to) I will post an update.
Drivers: Pay Attention To The Road! By my calculations, the person who hit the bridge had at the very least a half mile (the distance between Park Ave and
the Bridge) to see what was going on in front of them. As told by the police, I did nothing wrong in riding down the road within my legal rights, with a blinky, helmet, and claiming my lane. I am also not a small person…it isn’t that hard to see me AT FUCKING NOON.
I am very lucky to be in one piece after being almost ran over then nearly bludgeoned with a blunt object by some psychopath.