Ultra Violence

It was June and I was busy with another series of hill repeats up Schäftlarn, coasting down to the river for recovery in between the interval work. As so oft happens, the right mirror came within a few centimeters of hitting my left arm. Had I veered left instead of right to avoid a pothole, just two seconds before, it would likely have caught me, sending me flying with potentially devastating consequences. I graphically flipped the driver off - who in return braked hard, screeching his vehicle to a halt just a few meters ahead of me. He stepped off, a man in his 50's, and facing me, demanded an apology. How dare I offend this honest man who is just trying to get to work?

"Sir", I retorted, "you could have literally killed me. Signalizing my frustration in such circumstances is the least I can do". He wouldn't have it. "I may have committed a minor traffic infraction by driving too close, but you, you have offended me. I can't let this pass". If I didn't have my heart on my throat from the past intervals and the incident, perhaps I could have articulated a better response. Or perhaps I should have had the police number on speed dial: fearing a retort - after all he did have one-and-a-half tons of metal at his disposal to just run me over, whereas all I had was my lycra armour and seven kilograms of fine carbon fiber - I gave him the apology he wanted and let it go.

- - -

When coming home from rides to the Southeast, I usually ride the last block on the "wrong" side of the sidewalk, in order to avoid two left conversions across traffic. Given the pedestrian traffic due to the nearby subway station, "riding" here usually means just rolling along at a very leisurely pace. Yes, there is a cycling path right next to the sidewalk, but with it being on the same grade as the road, and in between the bus and the car lanes, the conditions are not exactly inviting for riding against the flow there.

Someone had again steered their car dangerously close to our group, on the way back another had converted left in an intersection right in front of me, ignoring my right of way. I had even bothered to get the license plate of the last one, but thought I shouldn't ruin this otherwise pleasant day filing a complaint. I rode on, coming out of Karwendel Str. and taking the southern sidewalk on Albert-Roßhaupter-Str. to convert left again less than 200m later. Another cyclist rode a few meters ahead, likely heading to the bicycle stands under the train tracks in front of Harras station, with me following slowly as we slalomed between pedestrians and bus stop shelters.

And then I was hit. It wasn't a hard or particularly painful hit, but nevertheless a solid strike just as I rode past a family, mother, kid, and father. The later, deciding he did not concur with my sidewalk riding, opted to demonstrate his disagreement by punching me on the hips.

I braked and turned around. Caught up with the trio and wished my aggressor a nice day. And added, if tolerating my behaviour was out of question, then still there should be better ways of expressing dissatisfaction with my actions than resorting to gratuitous violence.

In particular, when immediately next to his daughter.

On a sunny Saturday morning.