Anyone on two wheels has to pay attention to the many hazards on the roads, generally anyone with more than two wheels. I have in earlier posts identified the types of drivers to whom one should give a wide berth: tourists, Parisians, women drivers and boy racers. I’m aware that this is rather a sweeping generalisation. What I should say is pretty much anyone who doesn’t ride a bike.
For the past three months the exit barrier to the Domaine has been broken. This means that I can sweep down the hill and exit the Domaine at speeds in excess of 60km/hour. Today my speed was tempered first by the gardeners who are trimming the trees with much gusto with their automatic chain saws. The roads are scattered with debris which could easily get caught in the spokes. Caution was required. The second hazard was two small dogs off the leash. While they quickly came to heel I would hate to run over someone’s prized pooch, even accidentally.
I swept down the hill at 42km/hr but then had to abruptly slam on the brakes. Luckily for me the brakes on my more recent BMC work well. A car had executed a three-point turn right in front of me, totally oblivious to oncoming traffic. To add insult to injury, having executed the turn, he parked in the narrowest part of the road and flung open his car door almost knocking me off the bike, again.
I braked right in front of the driver’s door preventing him from exiting the car. Striving to remain polite, I enquired when was the last time he’d visited the opticians. Suggesting that, as he’d failed to see me, a trip was long overdue. He told me that he had seen me coming but he needed to turn his car around. Given that he then parked, I posed the question as to whether he couldn’t have waited the 15 seconds it would have taken me to pass thereby avoiding the possibility that he might have knocked me off my bike and injured me. Furthermore, I did have right of way and he had crossed an unbroken white line. He advised me that he was in a hurry to collect his daughter from school.
I looked at my watch and said “School isn’t out for another 15 minutes”. He then argued that cars took precedence over bicycles and that I should watch where I was cycling. To compound the insult, he advised that if he had knocked me off my bike, it would be his word against mine. Holding myself in tight check, as at this point I felt like decking him one, I pointed to the CCTV camera at the top of the road and removed my mobile from my back pocket. I suggested that not only would the video footage prove that I was in the right but the security guards would corroborate. However, for the avoidance of doubt, perhaps he would like me to call the police to opine.
He then asked me what I wanted. I said that I would 1) like an apology for his dangerous driving and rudeness and 2), in future, I would like him to give other road users more consideration. He complied. At this point he was trying to look suitably contrite in the hope that I would cycle off and leave him alone. But I wasn’t finished.
I put his licence number, make and model of car into my mobile. He was impressed. After all, standing in the open door to the car, I couldn’t actually see the number plate. I advised him that as a matter of routine I memorised the licence plates of any cars that might knock me off my bike and then drive off. That way, with my dying breath (I know, a bit dramatic), I could pass on the information to the relevant authorities. He was now starting to look concerned. I then told him to park in the car park on the opposite side of the road. He did. I cycled off feeling somewhat vindicated and pleased to still be in one piece. Clearly, not all Frenchmen are charming but they do know when they’re beaten.