A hot and wet bike ride

I’m not typically one for holding grudges.

But I am German. So I do have a tendency to retain bitterness brought on by another’s transgression longer than most doctors would say is healthy.

Tonight. a transgression took place – and I was the victim. It came by way of a half-full plastic bottle of water that hit me in the thigh as I pedaled my mountain bike home. Someone threw it from a car.

Had I not been carrying peppers and cucumbers in my pocket, my fancy digital camera around my neck and blood glucose meter and car keys in my hand, there’s a good chance I’d be the star of one of those True TV crime stories a few years from now. Yes, that definitely could have been the case had I been empty-handed – especially on my much faster road bike. This silver early 2000s model Honda Accord with damage on the passenger side of the rear bumper never would have escaped.

I gave chase regardless, actually forcing the driver to reconsider its right-hand turn onto a street 100 or so yards from the assault once he or she saw me stand up in the saddle and gain speed, but my luggage and I were no match as it sped off for the next street.

Still, I rode as fast as I could the final 800 meters to my driveway, threw my bike into the yard and raced for my car – key ready for the ignition and vegetables already out of my pockets. My intuition told me this person lived on the street he or she had initially intended to turn down. There was a good chance I’d find the car there, I thought.

“And when I find it, I’m going to … I will … do something!” I thought.

I wasn’t sure what. I’m not a violent person no matter the circumstances, nor am I a redneck. I had no plans to attack the water bottle-thrower. Maybe I’d call the police. Maybe I’d throw eggs at the car the next time I saw it (I actually eliminated this idea as soon as it popped into my head).

I had no clue why I was on this search, I realized as I combed the nearby streets at the speed of a pedophile in an ice cream van. I eventually made my way to a gas station, where I felt obligated to purchase a Diet Mountain Dew.

It took the amount of time I stood in line to notice I wasn’t mad anymore.

Sipping the yellow goodness, I drove back to the scene of the crime and stopped to pick up the weapon. There was still a puddle of water on the ground where it lay.

I decided to keep the bottle on the floor of my car. My plan was to keep an eye out for this Honda. Chances are, it lived somewhere nearby, as I don’t live on a road inhabited by motorists just passing through. If I ever saw it again, I reckoned, I’d give it back to the owner. Really, I just wanted the last word.

Maybe that’s not so childish. Since I began cycling in college, I’ve been struck by full cans of beer, baby diapers and a greasy entourage of fast food garbage. Passersby on four wheels have shouted that they think I’m gay, a drunk and – most often – simply a nuisance just for being there. At an organized charity ride in which I participated, a cyclist said he was once part of a group that was told by a motorist at a red light he’d “run over every one of them if he could get away with it.” I also recall the story that made national news a few years back about a cyclist who was shot in the head by a motorist; he survived only because the motorist thought it was smart to aim for the helmet.

If the person who threw that water bottle ever does that to a less experienced rider on a busier road, the outcome could be fatal. It’s important to let this person know (and I’ve said this 1 million times before) cycling isn’t only for people who have no other mode of transportation. I’ll keep that Sam’s Choice water bottle in my car for as long as it takes.

Does this still count as a grudge? I’d be lying if I said getting the last word and perhaps an apology wouldn’t make me feel at all better about the crime. While educating this person on the dangers of assaulting cyclists and littering simultaneously generates most of my motivation for keeping someone else’s bottle of water on the floor of my car, letting the idiot know I caught him or her isn’t far behind.

Actually, after writing this, I do not believe this is worth my time or the cleanliness of my car. Like the baby diaper, beer and paper fast food sacks, I think my best option is to move on with life.

What say you?  


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