Sigh — Sometimes You "Don't" Meet the Nicest People on a Guzzi!

The day started off nice enough — cloudy, but mild temps in the 70s.  Good day for a ride from Detroit to Pentwater to meet up with my wife and daughter and celebrate a good friend’s 60th birthday.  No hurry to get there, either — I was an hour ahead of Sheila at least since she was coming from the Central Time Zone, and Chicago traffic would probably burden her further.  Mild weather and my bags packed, I decided to roll out and just get lost on the way to Pentwater, specifically our hotel in Ludington, and travel through some of Michigan’s back roads.

Wow.  So beautiful once you get off the main roads.  Rustic barns, silos, small towns with old storefronts, buildings that give you the sense of history;  Europeans have been traipsing all over the Michigan Peninsula for 300+ years, and I can see why.  At least in the summer, the place looks like Northern England — I’ll bet before the shipwrights completely deforested the island, especially.

This Friday being the kick-off to the Fourth of July Weekend, I was wondering what happened!  No bikes on 96 on the way out of town, but as soon as I turned on the back roads, they were everywhere.  I stopped at two gas stations and spoke with couples on HDs rocking easy through the back country, not a care in the world and very pleasant.  Especially true to this were the couple of riders and pillions in Oceana — they were from Oklahoma and had been travelling for a week.  Made the trip around Lake Michigan and were headed back to Chicago and then down Rt 66 to their home state.  Ear-to-ear grins on their faces — their wives mimicking with their air-adjustable seats and all the commo gear.  Making memories.

Michigan is bereft of diners.  They’re out there, but not nearly as ubiquitous as some of the other states I’ve lived in.  Finally found one near Hardy Damn for breakfast and time to sit out a rain storm.  Gotta look the name of that one up.  The owner rides, but his wife won’t let him park the bike in front of the diner — he was awesome for getting me directions from where I was to where I needed to be, since AT&T and Google Maps had me roughly 3 miles south of where I actually was.  Rode through wonderful lanes that were broadleaf-tree tunnels, nice curves with little or no rocks and dirt — the wet road and unknown traffic patterns kept the speed out of me — I just cruised through the turns, braking easy, leaning smooth and just blissing out until I had to get on Michigan 31 North from Oceana to Ludington for the final leg of the trip.

And that’s where things just got stupid.  For the first 5-8 miles on the Highway it was one lane with construction, but traffic still managed to move along at 60.  The fun started when it finally opened up to two lanes.  I was able to move through the stagger in the traffic since most of the cars in the left lane wanted to pass but, due to their size, had to wait.  I zipped in the wide gaps (most Michigan drivers are actually awesome — they are motorcycle-aware and let you in) and slowly made my way through the logjam — until…

Going to the right of a slow-moving mid-sized pickup with a camper shell, I suddenly realized that the driver had sped up and “shut the door” on me with a slow car moving in front.  At that point I moved in behind because I had nowhere else to go. I’m now uncomfortable.  BRAKE LIGHTS — I’m already braking and slowing trying to get distance from the bumper, and driver pulls a “brake check” on me — I look at in the pickup’s window and an woman is looking in her mirror at me and shaking her finger like “I saw you trying to get around me…”

Then she moves over into the right lane, I guess to let me pass.  I decide it’s time to drop the hammer and just get out of there.  Road rage has left me years ago — I’m too old to deal with drivers like this.  As I pull around her, I see her cell phone sticking out of the car as she’s trying to take a picture of me, wildly trying to stay in her lane — it’s time to get out of there.  I gesture to her with a number that let her know that she was #1 in my book and then scooted.

3 miles later I’m at the Luddington exit, pulling into city traffic — and there she is behind me with her camera!  I just ignore her.  Realizing that I have no idea where the hotel is and that I need to check in, I sit in the bumper-to-bumper traffic and she sits on my tail.  I’m thinking that she has some road rage issues and decide that the better part of valor is to leave the situation; just get in the other lane, then make a right turn.  I get in the right lane, signal right.  She cuts off a car behind me and follows me down the street.  I stop.

She pulls alongside and sticks out her hand as if I’m supposed to shake it, holding her camera.  She blurts out her name is “Val”.  I decide this is too much.  I’m getting creeped out, feeling like in that old black truck with the cracked windshield and wild-eyed operator there just might be a loaded gun.  I’m on vacation and I need to get the hell out of this situation! I drop the bike in first gear, drive around a few blocks as she follows, then finally lose her.  Bike gets parked in the back of my hotel on the other side of town, opposite from where I was so if she’s still looking around for me, we’re not going to run into each other.

Oh my GOD.  Every once in awhile I run into people that have to act as “regulators” and control how other people act in traffic.  I haven’t seen one like this for awhile. Could I have handled it better?  Yes.  I should have backed off and let her get ahead of me, but I thought taking the first exit would have been enough. Sometines you just run into people that take great umbrage at motorcyclists having an advantage of getting through traffic easier — thank heavens that in California people like her can be charged with attempted murder.

Wherever you are Val, I can’t believe your life is so small and shallow, and you’re so mean-spirited.  You need to get some help before your road rage kills a less-experienced rider.

9 thoughts on “Sigh — Sometimes You "Don't" Meet the Nicest People on a Guzzi!

  1. Thanks for reminding us that it is always a better strategy to slip in behind some whack-job in a cage rather than to try to out-run ’em. In time, the moment to pass will come or the moment of rage will pass.

    Here in the Sacramento area, there are legions of whack jobs, not all of whom work in the state legislature. I avoid most of ’em by also avoiding I-80.

    Glad you made it through this one. Good post.

  2. In “Proficient Motorcycling” Dave Hough shows that statistically you’re probably safer on the slabs than the two-laners. But each time I drive the Interstate highways I’m immediately uncomfortable because I’m going over the speed limit but others are passing me in the left lane, holding their cell phones at the bottom of the steering wheel while they text that SUPER IMPORTANT message to whoever, (while going at least 10 mph above the speed limit).
    No thanks.
    I’ll stick to the blue highways whenever I can.

    I’m much like you…
    I’ve learned to avoid the drama through withdrawal.
    And a bit of advice from an old man…
    The “You’re Number ONE!!” salute is not a form of discrete withdrawal.
    Just sayin’.

  3. I think she was trying to get a date with you. The V7C is a real chick magnet.

    (No thanks! She looked like Michelle Bachmann, but with red glowing eyes… danilo)

    I usually feel safer on the freeways around here than on the urban 4-lane surface roads. The critical ingredient seems to be the amount of traffic. No big surprise, but when there’s more traffic, there’s more frustration that boils over. Too many people in too much of a hurry.

  4. I have started a video compilation over at my 4fraziers site of stupid drivers cutting me off, pulling out in front of me, and running me onto the shoulder. Only two recorded good incidents so far, but it will be growing. There are daily opportunities, especially with folks fiddling with the dumb driver/smart phone combo.

    Being a libertarian, I don’t support laws against using a phone while driving. Instead I support a “defense to prosecution” clause for folks who beat the tar out of someone who causes a wreck while driving and using a phone.

  5. People who chase down motorcycles for being naturally faster and more flexible on the road are like people who give other car drivers a problem because they want to stay in the merging lane all the way until the actual merge instead of joining the line of cars obediently merging early. We have little road Hitlers out there who are looking to impose their emotional morality on those of us who see the road for what it is. I’m give bikes their space.

  6. Mr. Gurovich, there is a Facebook page called “Growing up in Globe” often questions come up regarding Copper Hills Restaurant and other general discussions regarding Globe and Miami. There are tons of pictures posted to the site; might you be interested in becoming a friend?

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