Real danger

The scene of an unpleasant encounter on my bicycle.

I'm just cresting the small hill near the driveway to Vaughans' Elm Hill Dairy Farm. Three-tenths of a mile from home to end a pleasant and peaceful 20-mile ride.

A sudden car horn jolts me back to the real world. Looking to my left, there's a Subaru Outback that's really too close for comfort. I gesture with my hand a sort of "What gives?" kind of motion, trying at the same time to maintain my position along the right side of the roadway. And also aware that I have a sharp left-hand turn up ahead.

The vehicle shoots forward, its red brake lights staring me in the face. The driver angles the right fender inward, leaving only about a foot of spacing. Going downhill, I glide beside the stopped black car. I notice the window going down; I believe there also is a passenger in the front. I can't really tell, everything is happening so fast. I hear what I think are angry words. I yell back, "I have every right to this side of the road!" Somehow, I manage to keep control of my bike and squeeze by the car.

Again, the driver — I think it's a man — catapults forward and jams on the brakes several yards ahead of me. Again, he turns the car toward the side of the pavement. Now, there is less than a foot of clearance for me to navigate through. More bitter words flow out of the window; this time, I do see a shaking fist. Screaming now, I let loose with "Get your car away from me!"

Gripping the handlebar tightly, and being mindful of any loose gravel if I do slip off the road surface, I somehow maneuver around him for a second time, my left knee barely missing the car's bumper. I quickly arrive at the curve, wondering if this dangerous scenario will have a third act.

The vehicle zooms past me, disappearing down Hallowell's Middle Street. Relief takes over my body, and my heart feels like it's going to explode through my chest, which surprises me. Recalling my several close encounters with vehicles, this episode is different. I feel like this person really wanted to hurt me.

... Obviously, he hadn't read my "Dear Motorist" posting from a few weeks ago. Please, be safe out there!

'Thought for the day'

"When I go biking, I repeat a mantra of the day's sensations: bright sun, blue sky, warm breeze, blue jay's call, ice melting and so on. This helps me transcend the traffic, ignore the clamorings of work, leave all the mind theaters behind and focus on nature instead." — Diane Ackerman

From "Words To Ride By ... Thoughts on Bicycling" by Michael Carabetta (Chronicle Books, 2017)

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