Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Shotgun Start?

May I start out by saying that there are some CRAZY people in this world? I am convinced of this more and more everyday as I go through life. The more people I meet, the more I’m convinced that “People are CRAZY”. I’m not saying ALL people are crazy, but there is more than a fair share that should be eliminated so that we would have more oxygen to breathe. There are too many oxygen thieves!

We really did have a shotgun start on our usually quiet Sunday afternoon ride hosted by East Ridge Bike Shop. As usual, we had about 40-50 people show up for this ride. It is a great ride as you have all levels of experience and ability. This is a ride that allows you to basically choose which group to ride with, fast, medium or slow. The group usually stays together for the first mile or two. With that in mind, you know how 40-50 cyclists of all abilities might look cruising down the road. Inevitably you have some knuckleheads riding three abreast and some even close to the yellow line. Sometimes you might even take up the whole rode. Trust me, I know this is WRONG, but it does happen, it’s just the nature of getting so many people together. This day, however, I had just commented on how nice it was for a group this size to be riding in a double pace line. The pace was easy and everyone, at least in the first 20-30 people in the group, was riding side by side in a perfect double pace-line. Uncommon for this group, but nice to see. Maybe it’s because it’s getting later in the year and people are finally learning the rules of the road? What happens next is a first for me and hopefully a last. I am absolutely stunned at what happened.

I was in the middle of the group towards the white line. I always try to ride as close to the white line as possible because I think it’s better to go in a ditch than to get hit by a car. I’ll take my chances in a ditch any day! I hear the folks in the back yell “CAR BACK” and as he starts to pass, I hear some not-so-friendly exchanges of words from both fellow cyclists and the driver of the truck. As he gets right beside me and the folks around me, I hear him yell at the top of his lungs “F---- YOU bla bla bla” He sped towards the front of the group and cut the front riders off and as he passed told them the same thing he had just shared with the rest of us. I guess he didn’t want anyone to feel left out. Nevertheless, this guy is ticked off at the world and speeds away. As he speeds away I see him slowing to make a right turn into what turned out to be his house. I thought this was a little awkward but hey, oh well, it’s our right to ride on the road, and he just needs to get over it. This happens more than not when someone rides by and yells obscenities at me but I normally just ignore them simply because I will not win that fight, plus I know that I am a bigger person that that. I just try my best to keep my mouth shut and hopefully they will go on to where ever they are going in such a hurry and leave me alone. We as cyclists will not win that battle. a. they are in a car a lot bigger and faster than me and b. People are CRAZY! Sorry, but back to the story. As we were passing his house, with him standing near his truck, I hear someone in the back of the group yell “have a nice day” or something to that effect. Did I mention that he is obviously in the above mentioned category of CRAZY people? Not even two seconds later I hear a gunshot! You heard me, a freakin gun shot! This clown has either fired a weapon at us or pointed it into the air and fired it. Either way, he fired a weapon in response to the dialogue. I have not been that frustrated in a long time. I was extremely angry and felt violated by this clown who had some obvious issues, but I was also angry at my fellow cyclist. Here’s my opinion on the whole situation.

There is no excuse for what happened. The guy, or clown as I referred to already, had no business firing a weapon in response to a group of cyclists enjoying a Sunday evening ride, no matter what! Cycling is a very popular thing around this area and for the most part, the locals are used to it. We rarely have problems in that area of town. What this guy did was borderline insane and he should be punished by the law for such recklessness. No doubt about it, this guy is an IDIOT! With that said we as cyclists have a responsibility to obey the laws of the road while riding as well as use a little common sense. As I said earlier, in situations like that, we are not going to win. That is neither the time nor place to try to get a pissing match with someone like that. The problem is that you never know who is in the car that passes. We are better off keeping our mouths shut when someone shows their ignorance, not matter how hard that may be. We will not win on our own. The laws are on our side so we should try to use that approach rather than taking things into our own hands. I’m convinced that if someone hadn’t responded to this clown, the incident that ensued would not have happened. Not to excuse this guy for what he did, but it could have been prevented by not responding. It sounds crazy, but as I said earlier, a car is bigger and faster than me and as in this instance, heaven forbid they have a gun. Wow, I can’t believe I’m even writing about this.

There are a couple lessons that I take from this situation. First, there are some CRAZY people in this world. With the economy and everything else going on, you never know what people are thinking and are dealing with. For all I know, this guy could have just been laid off from his job, filed for bankruptcy, or his wife might have just packed up the kids and left, who knows. This applies to every situation in life too. Let’s be more sensitive to those around us. You never know what people are dealing with. Again, there is no excuse for what this guy did but it could have been prevented. I don’t want to come across as being a bleeding heart but let’s use some common courtesy and try to understand why people act the way they act instead of responding with profanity or hostility. Secondly, by responding to IDIOTS, you put yourself and those around you at risk. What if? Just what if this guy had misfired and hit someone in our group and killed them? Does that sound unrealistic? What’s unrealistic is this guy even firing the weapon in the first place. What if he had hit me and killed me? I would really be ticked off then ;) Is it worth it just to get in the last word or does it make you feel good to respond to someone that doesn’t have a clue? We need to be bigger than that! This guy just doesn’t get it! He certainly won’t get it if we continue to respond by yelling back profanity and then smarting off as we are riding past his house. We have a huge responsibility to educate those around us and that’s not the way to do it. Before we can do that however, we need to educate ourselves or our fellow cyclist on certain etiquette as well. Do we always obey the traffic laws as cyclists? Can we do a better job of common courtesy on the road? All I know is that we have a long way to go around here in terms of awareness and cooperation. Instead of helping increase cycling awareness and education to non-cyclists, this was unfortunately was a huge setback. I for one cannot believe what happened. I would love to get your thoughts on this.


  1. Hey Charles,

    Most cyclists are overly passive in my opinion. Granted doing battle with a car is not good odds. But I keep my head down more often than not when riding and have CRAZY stuff happen all the time from passing motorists. Wether its skinny rednecks swerving at me as they go past or rod rods reving so they can backfire. The only time I've seen people become contrite is when I've chased them down and confronted. That is when they realize that they better think about their odds when they step out of the car. I hope someone in your group called to police. Morons should at least have some consequences, that guy started when you guys were within your rights.

  2. Thanks for the comment Anonymous! I was beginning to think nobody read my blog ;) I have to say that for the most part, CRAZY stuff doesn't happen that often around here (knock on wood). Although I agree that people do need to be confronted, maybe even a good a$$ whipping would be more appropriate, I do not think it's worth it to confront these clowns. I have way too much to loose to potentially be killed by a car or killed with a gun all because I need to teach this guy a lesson. I do think we need to involve the police more, although some of the police are not too friendly towards cyclists.

    Some of the folks in the back of the pack did call the police and they responded immediately. Obviously the guy denied everything and the police needed a witness that actually saw the gun. No luck so far. Again, thanks for the comment. I look forward to hearing from you again!