El Valiente

Recounting this latest afrontation/confrontation by/with a motorist yesterday has elements that are so similar with others past as to render it almost too boring to bother. But I have to get it out of my head so bear with me.

Where: Eastbound on Pico Boulevard after crossing Catalina Street; at approximately mile No. 40 of what for me was ultimately a 46-mile ride as part of an excellent tour put together by the fine Hot Knives fellas.

When: 4:55 p.m.

Who: A male in his early 30s, the driver and sole occupant of a dark Blue Honda sedan.

What: Honking at me from behind while riding in the doorzone along the parked vehicles in the No. 2 lane he pulled alongside me in that same lane and called me an “asshole” through the passenger side window then accelerated past me and when I gave him the international arms-wide-open signal for Christ’s crucifixion “WHAT THE FUCK IS YOUR MALFUNCTION!?” he responded by extending a middle toward me and then easing on down the road a couple more blocks.

Until he had to come to a complete stop at the stack of cars backed up a block back of the red light at Vermont.

Tangental point of order: Why at this point of the group
ride was I going solo? Well, that was due to me gunning it
down a hill through Beverlywood a few miles back and
keeping a brisk enough pace to end up a few minutes
ahead of the other cyclists.

On approach I have to admit it was fun to see him panic like a trapped rat. They always do when it dawns on them that the little one-act play they directed is about to have a second act they neither bargained for nor want. At first as he realized I was going to catch up to him he squirmed uncomfortably in his seat and then started to swerve left to go around the car in front of him, but when he realized that wouldn’t allow an escape broke right and almost sissy fishtailed away south on New Hampshire Street. Finally resigned he straightened out and came to a full stop still in the No. 2 lane, whereupon I rolled up alongside the douche in his douchemobile and checked my anger as best I could to ask as reasonably as I could why he felt it was necessary to be such a piece of shit and A) Honk at me, B) Call me an asshole, and C) flip me the bird.

“You shouldn’t be on the road!” was his answer.

I bit the inside of my cheek until I tasted blood and wondered aloud to him if there might not have been a better, less stratospherically retarded way he might have displayed his limited intellect, and he just blinks at me while his undersized and underused brain taxes itself to a standstill trying to help him sound out strat-oh-sfear-ih-klee.

“Let me try again,” I say, “What makes you think bikes aren’t allowed on the streets?”

“I’m not saying that.”

“Then what are you saying?”

“I’m saying you were in my way!”

I opted to play along: “And tell me how exactly was I in your way when you were able to pull right along side me in this lane and call me an asshole and you also had free and clear use of the No. 1 lane to your left?”

“But there’s no bike lane!”

While I couldn’t deny such impeccable powers of observation, neither could I continue to check my increasing rage against his idiocy.

“Was that what I asked you dipshit!? Bicycles have just as much a right to be on the road as a motor vehicle.”

“Your bike is not a vehicle!”

“Oh brother you are more stupid than you look!”

“But It doesn’t have a motor!”

And at that point I gave up and did a quick let-me-get-this-straight recap of his harrassing and insulting actions and then finished my tirade off by calling him a motherfucking ignorant idiot for not having the sense enough to leave me the hell alone. And then as if to further prove my point, he told me to pull over. When I laughed at that invitation and said I wasn’t going anywhere he threw the Honda in reverse lurched it backward up off Pico onto New Hampshire and slammed it into park. I had a brief vision of dismounting and lifting The Phoenix over my head and launching it into the jackass’ windshield in the midst of a full charge, but instead I shook my head at the sky, took a deep breath and detached the cannister of pepper spray I have mounted to The Phoenix’s downtube. Rolling over to his passenger side I showed it to him and advised him that now might be the time not to do anything that take his ignorance to a lower level unless he wanted the entire contents of the can unloaded in his face followed by an arrest and a trip to jail.

Maybe it was the cannister in my hand at the ready. Maybe it was that he was a near-sighted blowhard chickenshit drive-by namecaller who realized he was in way too deep. Maybe he simply recognized the validity of my advice. Whatever the reason, he stayed put in the car for the next tense few seconds until I attempted a truce with “Look man, just do yourself a favor and learn the facts.”

And he said “I don’t have to learn shit.”

And I said “Story of your life no doubt. But for damn sure you better take from this and me that you do not have the right to intimidate bicyclists and call us assholes and flip us off for being on the road you are supposed to be sharing with us.”

And he didn’t say anything so I told him in full insincerity to have a nice day and rode away. I wasn’t so stupid as to not keep my eye on him behind me as I proceeded across Pico where I made a point of getting over into the left turn lane on Hoover. As he passed me and continued across the intersection he yelled out something that sounded like “Get a motorcycle” and just shook my head at the sky again at such a brilliant closing comment and reattached the pepper spray to its place on the bike’s frame.

I must say as a bonus that the residual adrenaline came in handy powering me up and up and over Alvarado from MacArthur Park over to Echo Park Lake where I found this appropriate card face-up where I stopped…


… and I was happy to unwind with an ice cream until my fellow beer riders showed up about 15 minutes later and together we headed up to the nearby destination where we finally got to kick back and share the bottled fruits of our collective labors.

A photoset of the ride’s good times is here on Flickr.

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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 laonstage.com, 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."