If your a cyclist then you've had your run in with cars in some sort of situation. But has anyone out there every been chased down by a large pickup full of drunk rednecks? Well thats how my night ended... getting chased by a bunch of rednecks in a large pickup for the hell of it and almost getting killed in the process. As I sit here this morning my hands are still shaking.
It was late, almost 3 am and I'm pretty sure that I could make it home from a friends house up the Rattlesnake without running into any traffic. I was well lit with a headlamp and numerous blinking lights so I was easy to spot on my fixie. Heading west through downtown I turned off of Spruce onto Alder because its a quite street right along the train tracks. As I pass an intersection I turned my head to see a truck still about 20 feet from the stop sign, my headlamp pointed me out nicely.
"Get him!" "Woof... Woof!" "Where you goin' boy?"
All of a sudden the engine revs and the tires sequel and the hunt is on. I didn't have time to think of what to do, the adrenaline just kicked in and I was off pedaling as fast as I could. I rode through the cobblestone street where the Farmers Market is held in the summer and hopped up onto the sidewalk as if that extra 4 inches of cement would be an adequate buffer between me and the lifted truck.
"Woof, Woof, Woof!" "Run 'em down!"
I pass the old train depot and they are right on my tail by then, having blown through a stop sign. They're yelling, I'm going balls to the wall and I'm facing a choke point and I know if I continue into the street ahead of me I'm fucked. I quickly turn in the side parking lot of the depot, they shoot past, and I double back onto Higgins thinking maybe they'll continue on... but they don't.
As I turn I hear "Want a beer!" screamed out the window and an empty beer can hits me on the leg. I speed off and gain some space on them as they try to turn around. The gap doesn't last long and I turn onto Pine before their grill almost makes contact with my back tire. The sound of the V-8 is deafening. They were going fast enough that the truck goes wide on the turn and I hop back up on the sidewalk because I can keep a few cars in between them and me.
Turn right... another right into the alley, their not far behind. My only advantage is my agility and I'm trying to use that as much to my advantage as possible.
"Knock 'em down!" "Yeahhhhhh!" "Get em!" "How you like your bike now!"
Again they come within inches of me, this time pulling up beside me and trying to push me into the dumpsters at the end of the alley. Their timing was just a little late as I clear the alley, sharp right this time staying on the sidewalk.
"You fucking almost had him!"
They express their disappointment by hurling more beer cans. Another right back down Pine. I pedal as fast as I can to create a gap and cross in front of them and the truck revs and lurches forward in pursuit but misses. I make it down Ryman next to the court house were the street has been confined to one lane. This is my chance... they turn down Ryman. I make it half way down the block, skid, and make it on to the sidewalk and double back and take off. They're trapped... no room to turn around.
Left, right, left onto Spruce across Orange... another right, left. No sign of them, I can't hear an engine. I finally look around having kept my eyes looking straight ahead through the chase.
With the adrenaline subsiding a can feel my heart pounding, I can feel it in my ears. I'm still paranoid so I'm taking a drunkard's path home making lots of turns. I do this for maybe ten minutes before I finally make it home.
Getting home the adrenaline high is no more, I collapse, shaking, not believing what just happened.
I felt like I had just been hunted for sport. Like I'd been persecuted and violated just because I was on a bike. I'd never felt these feelings before. Maybe they had just been fucking with me, but in the moment it sure felt like they were trying to kill me. WTF? This is Missoula, its a liberal college town, not Laramie Wyoming.
I realize that I am at least partially responsible for the events that happened. I made a bad decision to be out on my bike when I ultimately shouldn't have been. I placed myself in that situation which, had I made better choices, wouldn't have happened.
After having a day to reflection everything and having actually gotten some sleep I would like to add some thoughts. I now feel that they most likely weren't trying to kill me, but probably just trying to knock me off my bike so they could kick the shit out of me. Something similar happened to a friend's boyfriend a few years back in Missoula when some drunks in a pickup chased him and his friends down, knocked two cyclists off their bikes and proceeded to send them to the hospital.
In the moment it was all just so intense, but if they had really wanted to run me over I think they would have. They probably had lots of fun... I'm still shaky. I've gone to the police, see here for results.
14 hours ago