This is how it ended with the sub-compact sedan full of four 20-something punks: Me saying “We’ve got to stop meeting like this. Either learn how to beat a red light or quit telling me to fuck off!” Then the driver of the car pulled a right onto Beaudry from 2nd and left me on my bike laughing at them as the twirps sped off.

How it began was a little bit east inside the 2nd Street tunnel. I was leaving downtown after a lunchtime whim of using one of Flexcar’s Mini Coopers that are garaged at 333 S. Spring for an hour at $10 an hour. Coming westbound I was about midway through the tunnel, riding in the right lane a couple feet from the curb. From behind me a good distance away a horn honks behind me and I check my rearview mirror to see a small sedan way back of me having just entered the east end of the tunnel as a second or two before.

I give the driver the benefit of the doubt that that sound was accidental, but I know better and sure enough when the car’s closed the distance between it and me by half the horn goes off again, longer this time. Get this: there is no other westbound traffic in the tunnel, leaving the No. 1 lane wide open for this jackass to use to go around me unimpeded. But does this happen? Of course it doesn’t. Instead the car gets right up on my ass, honks again, cuts left to straddle the white line like its sniffing it and as the driver guns the woefully inadequate and poorly oiled engine in a rattle of valves past me I yell hearty and booming “fuck you!” and the passenger punk yells what sounds like “pedal faster!” but very well could’ve been “I’m an asshole!”

And so I take his sugggestion and channel my adrenaline by kicking up the cadence for a couple seconds until I see that, sure enough, the traffic light outside the west entrance of the tunnel turns red and they have to stop, giving me pa-lenty of time to just roll on up on their starboard side all casual. When I do arrive the front passenger asks me “Why I had to go and say what I did?” to which I circled around to the driver side and asked the driver why’d she have to go and honk at me?

She kept her ignorant mouth shut but the passenger made some noise about me riding where I shouldn’t be.

“Come on man” I say. “You should know bikes have full use of the street lanes.” And before he can verify his obvious ignorance of that fact I look back at the driver and say “And even if you didn’t know that you had the entire lane to our left entirely free of any traffic to use to go around me without having to piss me off — but apparently you’d rather have an angry cyclist getting all up in your business than look in your side view mirror and crank the wheel just a tiny bit to the left and change a goddam lane.

She’s still silent. In fact they all were until the passenger said “So that’s how it’s gonna be then?” and I said “Action reaction. You get back what you put out. I wouldn’t have it any other way.” And then the light turned green and the ravaged synapse that controlled the driver’s speech center finally generated a spark because she punched the gas and the rattling of the valves almost drowned out her “Well fuck you!” And as the car lurched forward across Figueroa I heard all of them laugh like they really got me or something.

But they weren’t laughing as I rolled up on them stuck at the next red light at Beaudry, this time circling counterclockwise around the car as the passenger showed off more of his stupidity by making some lame argument about there not being any bike lane and I guess from that stunted logic that’s how he arrived at the brilliant conclusion that I shouldn’t be in the tunnel.

To which I said “Let me get this straight. Are you actually telling me that you think that anywhere on the streets where there’s not a separate bike lane it’s illegal for a bike to be on that street?” And he thought about it for a split second and in that span I think he realized his idiocy but was too proud to back off now and so he said “Yeah.”

I roared with laughter and that prompted another “fuck off!” from the driver, which prompted my closing reply up at the top of this post.