I was not going to post this weekend. It was to be a weekend away from the bikes. A long weekend to tune in with Katie. We ended up riding Saturday. It was Katie's request to go. We met the enemy in an SUV. No physical injuries. Only to my psyche.
We slept in. Enjoyed a leisurely brunch. The sun was shining. Cold it was, but compelling. Katie said it would be a great day for a ride. "Let's go for coffee", she exclaimed. It was a strange request. I had coffee in my hand. We have a Starbuck's here in town. 10 minutes away. Then she filled in the second half. "At Coburg Road". Now it makes sense. This Starbuck's is 55 miles the way we go. I wanted to be sure she understood the cold. That it was really her choice. I am fine. I am suffering PMS ( parked motorcycle syndrome ) but can easily deal with it for a few days. No, she insisted she wanted to go for herself.
Katie has an endorsement. She took the class. She rides a little. The CX500 is hers. Mostly she wants to cuddle behind me. Katie is a motorcyclist at heart. I have seen her eyes shine. She tells someone of how cornering feels. She tells of being immersed in the ride. She wants to go. She feels a need. We will take a long way down. Sit and connect over coffee for me and tea for her. Share the ride. It will be much colder as dark nears. The run home will be on the Interstate. It is a tradeoff. We will have a long ride. Then hurry home to shield her from the worst cold.
She puts on layer after layer. Long underwear. Sweater. Fleece pullover. Her Aerostich Roadcrafter. It is Hi Viz. Top and bottom. That is a lot of yellow! Somewhere in there is the electric vest. A balaclava. Two pairs of gloves. I am afraid she won't bend enough to get on the bike. It works and we are off.
I will not detail the ride down. This is to tell a particular story. Suffice it to say it was good. Sweeping curves, beautiful country, the last leg following a river and its bends. It is amusing that we sat outside for coffee. With all the gear we would have cooked inside. The sun was still bright. Why not leave the gear on and enjoy it? People huddled inside. We had outside to ourselves. Box people and bike people separated by the cold.
Here is the encounter. We are up the Interstate. I am in the left lane. Traffic is heavy. All the box people coming and going. We are in a train line. Patiently riding. It is about the journey for us. In my mirrors I see a silver SUV. It seems half the world drives silver SUV's. This one darts to the right lane. Comes up and pushes into traffic on the left. Waits and does it again. You have seen these. Now the driver is next to us. Left lane and right lane are the same speed. We are side by side. I look at the people in the SUV. There is a man about 40. Dark haired with a narrow face. He has a woman passenger. A child in the back seat. The man is impatient. He looks directly at me. I see the front tire move my direction. The SUV gets closer to my bike. And closer. And closer.
This man sees me. He is not accidently pullling over into me. He is deliberately trying to make me yield. Closer and closer. Little by little. This is planned. This is evil intent. I feel the anger demon well up inside me. The man is staring at me as he pulls over. So far I am holding. It is time for a crucial decision. Will he go all the way? Do I call his bluff ( if it is a bluff ) or fold? I feel Katie squeeze her knees against me. She knows the situation. I back off. I feel so impotent. I am outraged. Shortly I hit an off-ramp and we go home on the old highway. I dare not have this SUV in my vision. It may drive me to other things.
I think about my decision. I think about the driver. I am seething inside. A hundred years ago I would have shot him. I am trained to rise to challenges with authority. I am trained to assert myself. I am wired to defend my honor. I do not lightly back down from a challenge. It is not likely this man would have challenged me if we had been face to face. It is one thing to be insulated in a vehicle. Quite another to meet a man in the open. Katie says I am intimidating. In confrontations there is an insane look in my eyes. It is to no effect when masked by a helmet and sunglasses. What could cause this man to act this way? Is he so important that all must yield? Does he feel invulnerable in his big SUV? Does he care about the stress to his wife? Is he happy with the example he is setting for the child? I can only wonder about these things.
I do know about MY decision. It was not possible to use the cell phone. You know how it is on a bike. An arresting officer would have no probable cause. I could press charges. Intent would be hard to prove. It would still be vicarious satisfaction. Not the same as "on the spot" justice. Did I make the right choice? Would the driver have yielded if he saw I would not? I had my best friend on the bike with me. Could I make the choice for her? The anger demon was welling strong in me. Releasing this demon is perilous. It wants to cause harm and hurt. I have found that it is just as willing to hurt the one releasing it. It will not leave without satisfaction. It cares not who it harms. Just that it does. My pride urged me to fight a battle I knew I could not win. If I were alone would I have fought? Would this be the fine line? Bravery versus stupidity?
It seems dramatic does it not? After all, it is only an incident on the road. Yet it is symbolic of so much. I backed down. I console myself that we all will pay for decisions. Someday and somewhere. I tell myself it was the right thing to do. I am happy that we are still well. Yet I am shamed that I yielded. My pride is wounded. Our bike and bodies are not. I am outraged without outlet. Yet we will ride again unharmed. There is so much inner turmoil.