“Now you know what it’s like” – Um, not really

I enjoy my commute to work by bike, but Thursday mornings are special, because I have breakfast with the guys.  Been doing this for maybe 22 years.  We rotate restaurants, in ABC order: Anita’s (Vienna), Bentley’s (Falls Church), Bob + Edith’s (Arlington), McLean Family Restaurant (McLean), and the Virginian (Vienna).  Each restaurant has a different character.  And each shapes my bike commute differently too.  They all add to the overall length of commute, but they change the commute in different ways.  The restaurants in Vienna are closest, meaning getting up the latest (still early), but they leave me with the longest rides to work.  Conversely, Bob + Edith’s is the furthest from home, requiring me to get up at 5:30 a.m., but leaving me with the shortest commute from restaurant to work.

Today we were at McLean Family Restaurant. The distances from my house to MFR, and then from there to the office, puts it in the median category on both counts.  What I like about my commute from MFR is that it takes me off of the W&OD/Custis Trail-my usual route to work.  My commute from MFR includes Chesterbrook Road, a winding, twisty up-and-down road that is great fun, and eventually the C&O Canal path. Then usually the CCT to DC.

Today was warmer than the past few days.  Rain threatened but it wasn’t yet raining when I went to breakfast. Perfect! I don’t mind riding in the rain but don’t like sitting through breakfast in wet tights and shoes (raincoat protects torso).

It was raining when I left MFR. With raincoat on I was quite comfortable. I was actually looking forward to the commute. Generally, I avoid the C&O Canal path when it’s wet, because I am usually on a road bike with skinny tires. But last year I discovered the joy of riding on the C&O in the rain on my cyclocross bike. So today I rode the cross bike and was looking forward to riding on the canal all the way to Georgetown instead of crossing onto the paved CCT.

Approaching Glebe on Chesterbrook, I took the lane to turn left. The car behind honked at me during my turn. Then he sped ahead and turned right on Old Glebe, same as I was going to do. But he slowed down, then came to a complete stop, forcing me to stop suddenly. The driver rolled down his window and yelled “Now you know how it feels!” In other words, he deliberately slowed and stopped and forced me to stop so he could yell at me.

I am not sure what the “it” was that he referred to – my forcing him to slow for a second I guess because I was on the road? I had actually done everything right. I can say as far as being taught how he felt, I think I do get how he felt, though I didn’t share his emotion. His feeling was one of anger, mine more bemusement. He appeared to me to be one of those drivers-a minority I think-that just hate cyclists and cannot stand to be slowed down for a fraction of a second by one, totally ignoring that we are traffic too just like all the drivers and their vehicles that they have to deal with when they drive on public roads. When I have these (infrequent) encounters, I always wonder why. Is this guy anti-bike (my first assumption)? Is he angry at other drivers too? Is he angry because something bad just happened to him? (Seriously, I think of the George Thorogood song that goes “My baby left, my mule got lame. Lost my money on a poker game.” etc etc.).

Maybe he’s angry because driving makes him that way. Maybe he should get on a bike. Hard to be angry when you are biking, I can tell you that.

Anyway, I continued on my route and very much enjoyed the dirt and mud from Chain Bridge to Georgetown. I wonder how that guy enjoyed the rest of his commute.