Thursday, May 10, 2007

Chapter Seven, In Which Robin Meets Badmouth Bob, Billy Blaze, and Takes an Excursion Into the Puckerbrush

While not quite as frightening as J's encounter with bicyclist Bob (scroll down to March 15, but I warn you may pee your pants laughing, this is the funniest blog in tri-town), I had some very interesting run-ins with the local two-wheeled loonies this week.

First, there was Badmouth Bob (or BB for short). I was cycling to work and only a block from the club when I pull up next to another cyclist on a commuter bike at a stop light, an act I would soon come to regret. We're right near the downtown bus depot, and a bus turns right on a red light directly in front of us (though not close enough to put us in any danger). Badmouth Bob, who up until this point looked relatively sane, takes a deep breath and yells at the top of his lungs "The Transit District can lick my hairy nutsack!". All eyes from pedestrians, car drivers, people waiting for busses, and the usual crowd in front of the library are now focused our way. Did I mention I'm a block from where I work, and am sitting right next to Bobby Boy, as if we're cycling together? As the light turns green and he moves off, I decide to put as much distance between us as possible, which is a good thing because he repeats his little proclamation (in a voice loud enough to carry a good half mile) over and over again as he pedals away. When I've finished racking my bike, I can still here him shouting his displeasure with the transit district into the sunset.

So that was day one of my cycling week. On day two, I've dropped my daughter off at her play rehearsal and headed off down the nearby bike path en route to a nice 90 minute ride along the rolling hills by the river. It's a gorgeous early evening, and I'm enjoying just cruising along. I'm coming up on a cyclist in front of me, decked out in long cycling tights and riding a mountain bike with knobby tires for all he's worth. Seriously, the dude is doing almost 19 mph on this mountain bike, and he's standing up and pumping every minute or so, going hell bent for leather. Still, heroic though his efforts might be, I was gaining on him steadily over the course of a mile or two, if for no other reason than I'm on aerobars and skinny tires. So I'm doing about 22 when I pull out, give him an "on your left" and pass him, not thinking anything of it.

The river looks gorgeous to my right and I'm enjoying the light breeze and sunny weather as I cruise along when I notice this weird sound, kinda like heavy breathing off of my left shoulder. A sunny patch of ground reveals his shadow, still pumping legs like crazy, right on my rear tire. So that's a little strange, but maybe he's on testosterone overload or doesn't like being passed by chicks (quite unfortunately, that's not an infrequent occurrence if you're a female cyclist). As I brake to make a turn off of the path, he whizzes past me and resumes manic pumping action. Of course, he also drops back down to 19 mph, now that he's lost my draft. I'll take a second just to point out here that this little event happens in races all the time, which is really hard on those female cyclists near the front of the pack. Some guys (no matter how much slower they're going) will just not be passed by a woman. It's downright maddening in a race (where it's costing me time), but is merely irritating on the bike path.

So I slow down for a little bit until there's another straight section and it's safe to pass again. A little bit more curt with the "on your left" and I'm past. Now we've gone up and over a bridge and are coming down the other side, picking up speed. My bike computer reads 24, then 26mph. At 28 we come out from behind some trees and I get another shadow glance, the dude is still glued onto my back wheel. At 28.5 on a mountain bike! Ordinarily, my hat would be off to him, but at this point it's starting to feel downright creepy. Interestingly, my girlfriends I've told this story to have nodded their heads - scary stuff. Guys look at me oblivious: what's the problem, other than a dude in need of an attitude adjustment? So here's a Public Service Announcement: Guys, girls can get a bit freaked out when they're being chased. Many of us have had unsavory, dangerous, or downright victimizing experiences with men in our lives, and while it doesn't make us walking paranoids, it's just not nice to chase us around (when you don't know us of course, if you happen to be my husband, go right ahead!)

So I did what seemed to be the best thing to my rabbit-being-chased-by-fox brain at the time: accelerated. I poured on the gas and took the speed up a few more notches. Dude is still there, ragged breathing and all. I'm so focused on getting away from this guy, I forget that the bike path is almost ending and there's a big sweeping curve coming up. I'm sure you know where this is going. I realize about 1/8th of the way into the curve that there's no way in hell I'm going to make it without completely dumping my bike over at a speed that will ensure most of my skin gets left on the pavement. So I straighten up and ride right off the path into the weeds.

Now I'm hurtling along over the rocky ground, thigh-high weeds and thorns whipping past my legs, and, as if in slow motion, the guy goes past me on my right on the bike path, his mouth in an "O", and all he says is "Wow". I manage to yell something like "wild ride" as I hold tight to the handlebars with both hands in a death grip. I manage to brake to a stop about fifty yards off the path, just before I would've hurtled off an embankment into a gigantic blackberry thicket. After checking my tires for thorns, and letting all of the blood drain back out of my cheeks, I head back onto the path. There at the end is Blazin' Billy, turning around to speed back into town. After all, he appears to be a pretty normal guy out for a power ride after work, not some kind of freaky demon. He looks as if he is going to say something to me but I just keep pedaling, hoping futilely that he will forget what color jersey I'm wearing (orange with flowers and purple shorts, what are the odds??) or maybe that he ever saw any of this (where's that Jedi mind-control thing when you need it: "You didn't see anything. You can go about your business now.")

fishbikeI'm a little nervous about what tomorrow's bike ride might bring, I could use a more normal ending to my week. I just hope that Badmouth Bob and Blazin' Billy don't have a cousin or something. Maybe this guy...


Nancy Toby said...

Oh my! What a photo!!!

I guess the guy mistook you for a Real Roadie that wouldn't mind some stranger sucking off your back wheel, eh? Bizarre.

Libor said...

Nice ride Robin. Go kick some ass girl! Next time the the wackos go by you, just in case. Glad things worked out for the better in those weeds and no skin was lost. Shame to hurt the bike :-P

John said...

See...this is where you need to spinning blades of death on your wheels. Just like in "Spartacus."

Billy comes up on you, you thrash his ride, and maybe a few toes, with your spinning blades of death.

Just a thought...


Donald said...

Hi - it's Sunday. Happy Mother's Day, Ironmom. I love your blog.

TriGirl 40 said...

This stuff is almost too good - if you saw a movie, you'd be like - no way that would ever happen - especially the Badmouth Bob story. LOL! Great story telling.

MzunguEriki said...

The BB story is really funny, in hind sight.