People suck. Yesterday, I escaped the madness of the automobile world for this very reason. Horrible drivers with horrible attitudes. Tired of it all, I bought a bike. A recumbent, to be exact, made by Burley and the most comfortable bike I've ever had the pleasure of riding. The idea was I'd ride this bike to work every day. Twelve miles of beautiful scenery, most of it on a bike path along the river. With very little street riding necessary, I figured I'd avoid the attitude of other drivers. This morning was my first big ride, and it started off great. I hopped on my new bike and started pedaling, taking in the world around me. The air was crisp and cool, and there was no where else I wanted to be. Vehicles gave me plenty of room, although it was a little disconcerting not being able to see them until they passed. I made a mental note to pick up some side mirrors on my way home. Let me say one thing: I don't like this "riding with traffic" business. As a pedestrian, I always walked against traffic. I could see approaching vehicles and move out of the way if I thought one might hit me. Having a couple tons of steel and plastic approach you from behind at 45 miles per hour while doing 15 on a thirty pound bike isn't much fun. Not that it's any better when they're coming towards me, mind you, but at least it's easier to keep an eye on them. After about fifteen minutes of riding, I passed a small zoo. Actually, it was a residential home, but the number of animals and the smell made me wonder what the code enforcement officers were doing this morning. Probably having a doughnut with the rest of the crew. Still, I marveled at the goats, and chuckled to myself as a chicken ran across the road in front of me. Just past the zoo, I moved onto a paved bike path and began climbing a hill towards the bridge that would take me across the Columbia River. The morning was going great. On the other side of the river, I began encountering pedestrians. Many were very friendly. I exchanged a few Good Mornings with my fellow path users, which made me feel that much better about humanity. Here were other people like me - out in the smooth morning air, smiling and getting some exercise. Well, not all of them were smiling. Some were quite unhappy. Others outright scowled. These scowlers, I'm sure, drove to the park for their morning run. Having just gotten out of a vehicle would explain their bad attitude. They, however, were easy to overlook: Within a few seconds I was past them, well on my way to meeting another person who might be smiling and, Lord willing, respond to my Good Morning with one of their own. Then it happened. What is "It", you ask? "It" is the event that ruins your day. We've all had dealings with "It". You're enjoying a great day when a large beast makes himself known. He announces himself as "It" and proceeds to destroy your wonderful attitude with a variety of torture devices. In my case, "It" was in the form of a vile, faceless woman with two large dogs. I was traveling on a relatively long, straight stretch of path, watching her. She was standing on the path, bent over, fooling with something in the grass along side the asphalt. Her two dogs were behind her, taking up the other side of the path and making passage near impossible for anyone else. To the left there was grass and a 10 foot drop to more grass. To the right, a two foot wide mess of dirt and gravel and a 10 foot drop to large rocks and the river. As I approached, I slowed down and attempted to pass. Surely, I thought, those dogs will stay put. I was, of course, mistaken: They stepped toward me at the last second, forcing me to the right and onto the gravel. As I attempted to steer back onto the path to avoid the ambulance ride that laid below, my bike began to fall. I applied the brakes and put my feet down, managing to save the finish on my new bike but ending up sideways in the path. I turned my head to see this evil woman running in the other direction. No apologies, no checking to see if I was OK, just the sound of footsteps fading into the distance. Yep: Another faceless automobile driver, this one was. It's all about me - who cares about others? Me, me, me, me me me me. Oh, don't I look beautiful applying makeup at 70 miles per hour? Ignore the honking; he's just jealous because he wants a cellular phone, too. Look, this accident is your fault. If you hadn't been driving such a small car, I would have been able to see you there. Somewhere in the process of saving my bike, I incurred a gash on my left leg. Not just any gash, mind you, but an inch and a half long, crescent shaped gash. Deep, bloody, and throbbing in pain. And I still had six miles left to go. The rest of the ride was a non issue. Well, other than the constant throbbing in my leg, which, two hours later, has still not subsided. Oh, and there was the guy in the Mustang who, doing at least 50 in a 25, swerved with the intent of running over a squirrel that had wandered into the road. Thankfully, he missed, but I had to wonder if he would eventually tire of killing small animals and move on to bigger and better targets. Bicyclists, perhaps. I did meet another cyclist who rode with me for about 10 minutes, asking questions about my recumbent and talking about bikes in general. I enjoyed his company and the conversation. Still, people suck. I had thought that getting out of the confines of a car and onto the intimacy of a trail would put a face on the people I meet. Without a bubble around you, things get personal. It was my hope that this would result in better behavior. I was wrong. The trail still has it's fair share of nasty people - just like the road. Although, so far, I prefer the trail: I relieve stress, save money, and get exercise. The road can't do any of these things. I wrote this when I got to work this morning. Does anyone else have bike riding tales? Post 'em here if you do! I'd love to hear them. Also, what do you do when you encounter small groups of people (or people with dogs) who are taking up the entire trail? If I come up behind them a quick "excuse me" works fine, but when they're heading towards you and still don't get out of the way, then what? Do you yell out "excuse me" (which seems rude when you're approaching one another), or just stop, or what? I'll tell you one thing, this is the last time *I* get off the trail in this situation. I'm not playing that game anymore. But, I don't want to run anyone over, either... Any thoughts? Perhaps I'll just come to a complete stop on the trail and wait for them to pass. Then they can come as close to me as they want and I won't have to worry about falling again.