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April 19, 1996
I have not, I think, discussed harassment. We've had a minimum, but we have had some. My worst was today.
- On a concrete bridge west of Uvalde, Texas, C. was riding alone when some joker oncoming came right at her across the double line, as if to mush her into the side rail. At the last moment he veered off. I did not see this. She told me.
- On our last full day in Texas, crossing the Naces River, I saw something sail over my head and on past. It wasn't a bird, that I knew. Later, C. told me that it was a sodapop can - empty - heaved at me from a pickup truck. Since the day was windy and the can was empty, there was NO threat. But again, I did not see the action.
- On our first morning in Mississippi, a pickup pulled out onto the road, cutting C. off. Then, apparently, as it approached me from behind, someone inside opened the passenger door of the truck WIDE. It went past me like that. C., behind me, was horrified. I never even noticed, since I was concentrating on my position on the narrow roadway.
- Today, however, I noticed. About two hours into our ride, a truck horn began blaring behind me. (They do this in Florida - we have not encountered this anywhere else til now, but a lot here, even after only two days. They sit on their horns from behind - not honking - sitting on them continually. Very unnerving.) So I knew he was coming and I knew he was big and I knew his speed by the progression of the honk noise. I was very carefully riding ON the right hand white line, with 1-1/2 - 2 inches of paved shoulder. The center line was broken, there was NO oncoming traffic, and full, clear visibility ahead. The bastard didn't pull out at all - he didn't give me an inch - and I was forced off the pavement into the dirt. A huge silver, anonymous van-type vehicle. Bump, bump, bump (the dirt at least was packed) back onto the blacktop, and here come ANOTHER one blaring behind me, this time a tandem, and again I was forced off the road. The tandem, at least, pulled out to go around C. ahead of me. This was pure maliciousness, plain and simple. The drivers had plenty of options, but exercised none of them. Not on this trip, nor in any of my 10 years of riding, have I witnessed such malice aforethought. At least the backs of these buggies didn't say "How's my driving?"
In a small east Texas town, Anderson (where the post office opens at 7:30AM), a group of men at the cafe where we oatmealed earnestly inquired about "You're doing this alone?" "No", quipped C. "We're doing it together." But we all knew what was meant. A few days later in Silsbee (just before the soda can incident, another man asked C. whether we "have had any problems?" She ignored his intent and responded in a different direction. "No, no" he said, and clarified what he meant. No, we have not been harassed because we are two women traveling alone. We HAVE been harassed as cyclists.
© 1996 BFZ
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