WHAM! WHAM WHAM WHAM! His fists flew, my head flopped from one side to the other as the blows landed alternating left, right, left right and for once I was glad to be wearing a helmet...
In the groove... the first ride of 2010 after a break of three weeks. It was good to be back, getting into the rhythm, Remenham Hill was climbed comfortably and the descent to Henley was the usual pell mell whirlwind with eyes streaming and bike skittering over the tarmac just the right side of being in control.
Over the bridge, through green lights, into the right hand filter lane. It may have been a Sunday but that didn’t mean everyone was relaxing and an impatient driver overtook me on my left and pulled out in front of me, but he was so short of distance before the red light he had to park up straddling the “bike box” at the right filter into Bell Lane. To avoid shortening my wheelbase even further by smacking into the back of his car, I swerved to the left and did my first trackstand of the year next to the passenger door, ignoring the car completely. A typical road incident hardly worth registering.
Red light red light red light amber GO, I took a nice line to turn right as per my right. The car driver was slower to get away and didn't like me getting in front and blasted away on his horn, the angry careless cacophony shattering the Sunday somnolence; I looked behind me and he was pulling in to the pavement near Starbucks.
So I gave him the traditional two-fingered salute, that symbol of sardonic respect and thought nothing more of it... for about two seconds after which there was a revving of engine and a screech of tyres behind me as the car came after me, chasing me pell mell down Bell Lane, which at this point is a narrow one way street. There were no exits, no alleyways to dive into, I had nowhere to go but straight on as the metallic monster chased me down, a powerful predator after its prey...
About 50m later there’s a choice - to continue straight on and exit Henley or take the right filter which would ultimately take me back to the town centre... I decided to go straight on... I rode wide to protect my line and to make sure I wouldn’t be overtaken and unceremoniously dumped into the gutter by way of being sideswiped, but didn’t figure on being undertaken and forced across the white centre line into the path of oncoming traffic... I am aghast, but with this car six inches from my left elbow there is just nowhere else to go...
...fortunately it was a Sunday so the traffic was light but even so a couple of cars had to pull in towards to kerb to avoid splatting me across their windscreen...
... sketchy protection arrived in the form of a pedestrian island next to which I stopped, the wrong side of the road but at least there was something between me and this moronic monster. I quickly dismounted, he swerved across the road and parked up diagonally across it, blocking traffic in both directions and blocking any further froward progress of mine - no escape that way. By this time I was losing grip on reality - was this actually happening? This is a Sunday morning in Henley ffs!
Other traffic began to blast their horns for this nutcase to get out of their way, I picked my bike up and skittered on cleats across to the pavement and waited. The sleek silver shark glided away down the road, the small number of other cars that had been temporarily blocked trickled passed and silence descended....
I remounted and somewhat tentatively resumed my journey, hoping that my pursuer had given up and gone on to hunting grounds anew... but within a few yards it became apparent that I was some delectable morsel to be devoured undistracted. The driver was walking down the road, down the road towards me, arms outstretched as if to welcome me into his lethal embrace; there was no way to pass.
So I stopped, left foot on the ground, right foot still attached to the bike. As he strode towards me he was shouting and yelling abuse; he got up close and personal and continued his foulmouthed assault. He was somewhat taller than me and broader too, I being only of average build. His face that haunts me still was craggy, deeply lined, like some worn, battered and ancient rocky outcrop exposed to the harsh elements over several millennia; a short but also somehow scraggy whitish flecked and faded auburny-brown tired looking beard with tired looking hair made him look unkempt, uncaring and uncared for. He looked tired which was in contrast to the vitality end energy he was putting into his verbally vicious attack.
Strange I studied him in such detail. Strange that I felt completely unmoved by the toxic torrent delivered by this bicyclists’ bane; now that the flesh and blood was not contained in the defensive aggressive armoury of computer designed crumple zones I could eyeball my adversary.
Unstoppable, the putrid torrent of vile vomit spewed forth from this gargoyle’s gutter; my feeble response of “But you cut me up back there” was swept away like a mote of flotsam and jetsam in a tsunami; indeed my timid temerity simply swirled up ever more stinking, disgusting, rotting contempt from the putrid depths of his stinking, disgusting, rotting mind.
And then he spat at me.
Spat at me.
Spittle splattered over my jersey, his intimate insides violated my outside; each disgusting fetid fleck of white spume glistened and sparkled in the sun but, just like his words, they were revolting, repulsive, repugnant. Who was this man? What infections or diseases did he carry?
Calmly and deliberately I spat back. You spit at me and I’ll spit at you. Fair play. But he didn’t think so....I saw him raise his arm before the first strike and I ducked...WHAM! WHAM WHAM WHAM! His fists flew, my head flopped from one side to the other as the blows landed alternating left, right, left right and for once I was glad to be wearing a helmet...
As the blows fell I wondered what to do. How can I stop this berserk vandal, this ignorant pillock? This prick? This bully? This rabid emotionally retarded git? Should I kick him in the balls? After all, hard cleated cycling shoes firmly planted in his gonads would hurt. Should I throw my bike at him? Better not, it might get damaged and he was not worth that.
The pummelling stopped and I looked up, straightened up, and eyeballed this scum, this imbecile, this perverted personification of hatred, this bastard filled with blind unjustifiable anger, this exemplar of road rage lost in red mist. He puzzled me and I pitied him.
He started again, but I had plenty of time to duck again... WHAM! WHAM WHAM WHAM! His fists flew, my head flopped from one side to the other as the blows landed alternating left, right, left right... this banjaxing of my brain was getting serious...
With each blow to my calvarium I thought this might be my road to Calvary but the cavalry arrived; a bicycling band of brothers pitched up, the beating stopped, the bullying bandit backed off as a bespoked banderillero interceded and demanded to know what was going on.
Surrounded by cyclists the coward changed his attitude, portraying himself as the victim. Pathetic. Logic would say I would get witnesses, logic would say I would note his registration plate... but it was a surreal Sunday which made no sense, my senses had been scrambled and I left the scene.
As I defiantly continued my route, I reflected on what had happened. The thing that struck me, other than his fists, was that his invective and spleen was directed towards me being on a bicycle. He had tried to make me feel like low-life, like something that should crawl back under the stone from whence I came, that I was the lowest of the low; that being on a bicycle was socially unacceptable; I was a pariah; something that shouldn’t be allowed; that I was sub-human filth. I had no right to live. I was scum.
When I got home the shock set in. I reported the incident to the police and got a crime number (24th Jan 2010 MH2158561/10) and got myself checked out medically... after all although I was wearing a helmet my head had been used as a punchbag. I spoke with Cycling Weekly and The Henley Standard and Maidenhead Cycling Club sent out emails throughout the cycling world hoping to find my saviours... but the trail had gone cold. It took 4 days before the physical affects wore off; if I drove or moved too quickly I felt woozy...
Whoever this guy was is a menace to cyclists, he is dangerous. He was driving a current model silver Audi estate, an A4 or possibly an A6. By forcing me across the road into the face of oncoming traffic, it’s possible he attempted murder, with his car as the weapon. Police have checked CCTV and can see the incident, but can’t make out the reg plate.
I need to steal myself and go cycling through Henley again and lay this ghost to rest.