Cycles Of Violence

I posted info of this assault on a cyclist riding on Pico Boulevard on the Midnight Ridazz website (here), and it’s generated a good deal of discussion and opinion. The insane long-windedness of my thoughts on the matter precludes me from posting it anywhere but here after the jump.

Some might be amused or appreciative of my behavior some might not, but I’m sure most of the guys I ride with on a regular basis consider me a blowhard with a baddish attitude on a bike. Still, I gotta say I’m a LOT better than I used to be.

Back in the days of old (which means anything pre-2003) I was like a rabid animal if transgressed. It became the meaning of my existence to chase the transgressor down and if I could I’d let them have it verbally and/or their vehicle physically. While I took a very satisfying nonviolent revenge after being hit by a full 7-11 Big Gulp cup on Burbank Boulevard in Van Nuys, thrown by the punk passenger cruising in the driver’s daddy’s Jag (a tale that’s far too long to recount here), I was more prone to demonstrative confrontation. I wouldn’t hesitate to board a bus and berate its operator and I’ve punched in a car window or two. I don’t say this proudly, just matter of factly and yes, regretably. I do say thankfully that I lucked out in never getting shot or rundown or maced or stungunned or into any hand-to-hand or arrested.

I’d like to say there was a key confrontation that provided the turning point, but instead it was rather anticlimactic. On a long ride with my most frequent biking buddy up Highway 126 from
Magic Mountain to Ventura and back in ’03 I was cut off by a jackass in Santa Paula and proceeded to curse and spit and fling the finger and generally let it out instead of bottling it up within. That was my motto: Why internalize today what you can externalize right fucking now!?

As the next weekend approached I asked my friend if we would be riding and was told no. The unchecked aggression I demonstrated was the last of what had been many straws and I was too disturbing and frankly dangerous to ride with anymore.

I could’ve gotten bent by that revelation but instead I took a good look inside and made a dedicated effort to change the way I behave in the saddle. I’m not always successful, and as I said at the top the people who put up with me know I’m far from being a timid rider.

Just the other day coming down Venice Boulevard some came out of a side street rolling a stop sign and almost hit me. The old me would’ve wanted to squeeze his flesh through my fists like Playdoh, but I managed to keep myself to just an angry glare and some vigorous head-shaking — and that was still enough to piss the guy off. At the next light he pulled into an adjacent strip mall and started giving me the international head-tilt signal for “what the fuck’s your problem; wanna make something of it!?”

I tried to diffuse the situation by repeatedly flashing the peace sign and saying “it’s cool,” but he’d have none of it and when he screamed “nothing but a pussy” and ripped a right turn to head north the next thing I knew was that I was barreling up behind him where he was stuck in the traffic clog, which must’ve freaked him, because he yanked left and sped away recklessly between the double-yellows for several blocks until he was far enough out of reach that I called off the hunt.

Having said all that I don’t know for sure how I would’ve reacted had I encountered the situation Chris did. I’ve suffered many of those who gun the gas yelling as they pass to “get off the road” and “get a car” and “get a job” and “get a drivers license and/or a life” and mostly I’ve been good in letting that chickenshit go. But I’ve been fortunate never to have been forced to deal with someone as openly aggressive and antagonistic as the dude who assaulted Chris. Whether that’s because I’m 6’2″ 215 or just lucky is up for grabs. I do agree size doesn’t matter so much as the luck of the draw.

Good luck to me in moderating my belligerence and good luck to Chris and his efforts to seek justice for the crimes perpetrated against him. Whatever happens, I hope the incident doesn’t keep him from riding. The older-er I get the more I plan to pedal around this town and the more I expect I’ll steel myself to take such incidents in stride… or at least I can hope to.

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Will Campbell arrived in town via the maternity ward at Good Sam Hospital way back in OneNineSixFour and has never stopped calling Los Angeles home. Presently he lives in Silver Lake with his wife Susan, their cat Rocky, dogs Terra and Hazel, and a red-eared slider turtle named Mater. Blogging since 2001, Will's web endeavors extend back to 1995 with, a comprehensive theater site that was well received but ever-short on capital (or a business model). The pinnacle of his online success (which speaks volumes) arrived in 1997, when much to his surprise, a hobby site he'd built called VisuaL.A. was named "best website" in Los Angeles magazine's annual "Best of L.A." issue. He enjoys experiencing (and writing about) pretty much anything creative, explorational and/or adventurous, loves his ebike, is a better tennis player than he is horr golfer, and a lover of all creatures great and small -- emphasis on "all."