Monday, 9 August 2010

Bastard got away

Went for a nice long ride on Sunday - needed to blow the cobwebs out. All went well, until I was on the home stretch - just a few kms from home. Due to the way the streets are laid out in one spot, you really don't have much choice about where to ride. One particular bugbear for me is Crane St - it's a mid-range road that carries a lot of traffic that's avoiding Parramatta Road, and the traffic moves quickly and aggressively. When looking at the map below, when going from left to right, you've got a fast downhill that leads into a sharp left hander. The problem is that the bend is reasonably tight, and cars always cut the corner. It is not a good place to be on a bike unless you are willing to be assertive and take the lane.

My video camera had stopped recording for some reason, so this shot is brought to you by the wonders of Google Maps. This is the downhill stretch, with the bend coming up. There's a big slab of concrete road dividers here as well, stopping cars racing down the hill from losing it and going head first into cars coming the other way. The presence of that concrete wall should give you some idea of how many idiot drivers going too fast have come to grief on this bend in the past.

The way I stay alive here is simple - from the lights at the top of the hill to the corner is about 200 metres. The speed limit is 50. The hill is steep enough for me to get away from the lights and quickly accelerate to 50kmh - my mass helps me build up the speed. Once I hit 50, I move into the centre of the lane and take my spot in the queue of traffic heading for the corner - I will never go into that corner with a car on my right - that is death waiting to happen. The car will try to overtake, they'll be going too fast, and they'll cut the corner to make it round - when that happens, bike gets pushed sideways into the kerb, and you go down and impact the tarmac at 50kmh with cars right behind you. I'm not doing that.

Some knobheads don't like me doing that - they want to go down this hill at 60kmh or 70kmh, and take the corner like Fangio. I don't care - I take my spot and most of the time, all I get is a bit of angry tailgating. However, Sunday was a different matter.

One bloke went right over the double white lines and overtook me at speed - then slammed on the brakes to make the corner. I thought he was a goose, but I was safe. But he was followed by a real prick who overtook me with about 3 inches to spare. I was close enough to reach out and rip his wing mirror off without stretching. He wanted to scare me, and to a certain extent, he did.

But more than that, he really pissed me off. I've been on the road too long to be really scared by this sort of thing. It doesn't freak me out and make me cry. It just makes me want to kill.

So I chased him. He couldn't get away, and I was able to hang on his tail at 50kmh for the next few kilometres until we hit the next hill and he got away. I was hoping that we'd hit a traffic jam and he'd be forced to stop. At that point, I was going to pull him out of his car by his hair and punch him until my fist could take no more. Then I'd start using the other fist. I imagine he was feeling a bit sheepish, given that he would have mentally justified overtaking me like an arsehole because I was a "slow" cyclist - and there I was pacing beside him on the flat!

I was a tad annoyed, to say the least. He wanted to wind me up, and he did. It's been a while since I saw red like that, so he got the desired effect. I think it's lucky for both of us that the traffic was flowing in a most un-Sydneylike manner and he escaped. Otherwise, I'd be writing this from jail. On toilet paper. Using his blood for ink.

Thing is, he turned into the Abbotsford peninsular - so if he lives in that area, I am sure to come across him again.

QIK 002 - I'll be looking out for you. I won't be angry next time I see you, so all we'll exchange is words. I might try to educate you in the error of your ways. I don't take the lane because I am some sort of anti-car, mungbean munching eco-loon; I do it because unthinking wankers like you have tried to kill me on that corner in the past, and my position on the road is a direct reaction to that. You reap what you sow. Because you can't drive properly, I have to adjust my behaviour.

Epilogue - my legs are shot after that. I really cooked myself chasing him. If nothing else, it was an excellent workout - I really pushed through a few boundaries on that chase. Rage can be a great motivator.


bruce said...

I'm amazed that you get away with riding your bike on the road there at all, the capital of wannabe Fangios, at least it was in my day.

My advice, FWIW, is to go down Gipps St and angle thru the backroads a bit. Crane St is hoon central. You're just tempting fate by going down there. Yeah I know it's not fair.

I grew up with the Mediterraneans. Lovely people but like headstrong horses with their machismo - you'e got to let them have their way sometimes, their bravado. They like you if you keep a cool head while they're losing theirs too, they respect you in the end. Because with all that competitive bravado they end up hating each other and confiding in you - above the fray.

It will get easier to play 'wise older man' as time goes by!

Boy on a bike said...

I hate Gipps even more - the bike lane gets pinched out and the car lanes are too narrow. Apart from that one corner, I don't mind Crane St, and that knob on Sunday was the first real problem I've had with my lane taking maneuver.

A Glock would solve a lot of problems.

bruce said...

Gipps St - true, it's all a dog's breakfast.

Glock -Are you familiar with this bit of local history? -

Boy on a bike said...

I knew the name, and knew about the White City shooting, but had no idea about the Five Wog connection. Fascinating. That all happened a few hundred yards from my place - except I was living east of George St back then, and had no idea Five Wog existed.