About two weeks ago I took a mini vacation. It was three days with my friend David, his wife, Susan, and my girlfriend, Serena. The time off meant a lot to me. I’ve literally been working seven days straight since the beginning of the year. When Serena and her daughter took their real vacation to Maine, I had too much work going on to just walk away.
My vacation was going to include running, cycling, hiking and as many massages and cheeseburgers I could fit in. It was all going great until the second day.
I was cruising down St. Mary’s Road. There was about a six percent grade going downhill. Cyclists can easily pick up 40-45 mile an hour pace there. It was a short tunnel, and as I approached it, I realized what I had already known from all the time I spent skiing up there. No matter how close I got to the wall of the tunnel, there would be very little bailout room if a car came to close.
So I slowed my bike to about 25 as I entered. As I heard a car coming up behind me, I squeezed even tighter against the wall.
The white Ford Expedition that passed me about a second later came so close that if I or the driver flinched at any moment I would have been crushed between the behemoth of a vehicle and the wall of the tunnel.
As the three-plus ton vehicle went passed me, I read the license plate. It said “Papa Ryd.” I continued down the mountain following the vehicle into town.
When I got to Mammoth, appearing in the passenger window was an older gentleman. He was close to 70 years old, and was with his wife and several friends.
I quickly changed my attitude and realized the old man probably didn’t see me in the tunnel. I then headed toward the condo.
Not long after, a white flash flew in front of me. It was Papa Ryd again. He turned to nab a parking spot for the Bluesapalooza festival that was going on.
Papa’s exploits caused me to have to do a front wheel stand on my bike to stop in time and avoid hitting his vehicle in a T-bone fashion. That same move a week earlier by a different motorist and different cyclist put my friend in the hospital with a broken hip and elbow. I simply got lucky.
I then pulled around to the passenger side as the party exited the Expedition. I mentioned to him that he almost killed me twice within the last five minutes.
This old geezer replied, and I quote (his words, not mine), “Fuck you, I was trying to hit you, you asshole.”
I replied, “You may be right. I may be an asshole. But why did you try to hit me?”
He said it was because my presence on the road was illegal.
I told you that to tell you this. What Papa Ryd was referring to is the fact that Mammoth has a pedestrian trail that parallels the road I was on. That road is meant for cyclists, joggers, walkers, skaters and other non-motorized vehicles.
Generally, faster cyclists won’t take those trails because they’re littered with kids weaving in and out. It would be unsafe to go 40-plus miles an hour in those conditions.
The point is this: Even though a bike path may be provided, it doesn’t make the road illegal to ride on. I have news for Papa Ryd and every other jerk who ever tried to hit me or any other cyclist in the name of teaching us a lesson: Bicycles have been around a lot longer than cars. Get over yourself.
As for how my conversation ended with Papa Ryd, I just turned and rode away. Let’s face it, you can’t teach an old jackass new tricks.