Sunday, February 21, 2010

I was Almost Killed Last Night Because of a Bunch of Redneck Fucks

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.


Dave Reid said...

Dear lord, man that sucks. I'm glad you made it home without getting hurt.

Anonymous said...

Yikes. I'm glad you're OK and lived to recount the tale. It goes without saying that you reported this to the cops, right? For what little that may be worth.
I'm trying to psychically prepare for things to get much, much worse for all of us, and when they do, idjits like the ones in the monster truck will get even angrier and more scared and are likely to vent their rage at the people least responsible for their situation -- people like you and me. I'm seeing elderly women flip me off here in the most-liberal corner of Maine. Hang on, friend.

Anonymous said...

Reading your account brings it alive for me. I can picture everywhere you were pursued. OMG, now my hands are shaky. Mom

Julie said...

Holy crap! I do hope that you reported it although I doubt much will be done about it. I suggest you right a letter to the Missoulian recounting your tale, and perhaps someone will turn the idiots in. These kinds of people like to brag about such stupid things to their friends...

rjames said...

Wow...I really hope these guys are found. Clearly you had no chance of getting a license plate number. I can't believe something like that happened downtown. At that hour I would think there would be at least one police car patrolling around.

Rich Quackenbush said...

It's a shame that we are still surrounded by morons of this caliber. It's 2010 for crying out loud. I don't know your position on handguns, but this makes me want to be strapped when I ride lest I be accosted by a similar band of cretins.

I'm glad you made it through unscathed (at least physically).

John in NH said...

In a way every time I get a revving engine behind me or a horn or get yelled at, I go into flight mode, just for a second, everything becomes more intense and my heart pounds just that much more. Especially at night, and knowing really that if I were run down the cops would do little about it because of the area I live and the fact that a car "cant be a weapon"

I have never had any real issues such as this, and I agree with you it does feel like you are being chased like some animal on the Savannah, or like a run away slave in the 1800's. It’s scary as shit and I was scared for you reading the recount. By the way, wonderfully written, I could visualize it so well.

I am glad you are physically ok, and I agree with Festoonic, I think it will get worse for us, especially the lone cyclists in the more rural America, or smaller towns. I
am thinking James Bond esq. oil (bio fuel of course) slicks from the back of the bike, like a little switch...

Ride safe mate

RANTWICK said...

That is sickening. I know there are plenty of morons out there, but that story is just insane. I too am glad you made it through... I just pray nothing like it happens to me. I don't know what I would do.

CarFree Stupidity said...

Thanks for the kind words everyone. I wish this was an isolated incident, but it isn't.

Velocodger said...

In 1967 at 3AM in Lompoc, CA I was beaten by a redneck in a pickup. Luckily for me an old man came by and yelled "the cops are coming". I ran to the police station where the cops caught the guys and proceeded to talk me out of pressing charges. The redneck gave me a ride home and promised to leave me and my friends alone. And by the way, I was walking.I guess it goes to show we as a country haven't evolved much. Keep safe and keep the rubber side down!

BeyondDC said...

Riding your bike at night should not be a dangerous activity. Don't apologize for anything. You were attacked, plain and simple.

Allie Cat said...

You are in NO WAY responsible for this vicious attack, and you shouldn't even have to think that. Riding a bike at night is not "putting yourself in a dangerous situation", or at least it shouldn't be.

I'm glad to hear you made it out okay, but please don't start blaming yourself for this. You managed to correctly assign blame in your first draft of the article: on the drunk rednecks.

I've often been passed with engines revving just a touch too close, or honked at, or had comments in the vein of "Get on the sidewalk, dumb***" shouted at me... but to actually be chased around town is pretty intense. I hope you catch these idiots.

danceralamode said...

Back up! This was not your fault in the slightest! So you were riding home at 3am, big whoop! What law states that only people in cars are allowed to use streets at 3am? You are not responsible for other people's actions. You can never be. This could just as well have happened at 7pm, 11pm, or 5am on your way TO somewhere rather than from somewhere. Best option would have been able to find a hiding spot and call the cops as they chased you. But obviously that was impossible, seeings how they were trying to kill you! This was assault or at least attempted assault, maybe even attempted murder. They were using that vehicle as a deadly weapon! I am so glad you are okay, but we must never blame ourselves for the actions of others, or apologize for our right to use the road as cyclists, at any time.

Yes, I understand that you are saying if you had just stayed at your friend's it wouldn't have happened, but limiting our own movement because of criminals like this is no different than people deserting a neighbordhood because a gang has moved in. We cannot give up our liberty for safety, to paraphrase Ben Franklin.

I hope these idiots do something idiotic again, without hurting anyone but with a police officer present to catch them.

And I'm glad you're okay. You must be one bad-ass rider to have escaped. My hat is off to you.

tina said...

You are NOT AT ALL responsible! Please banish that thought from your mind! And YES they were TRYING to KILL you!!! You think the same guys sent other people to the hospital and you say it was no big deal? its a BIG deal! THEY did something wrong, not you!

tombetz said...

I live in the deep South and bicycle on shoulder less roads. With oncoming traffic- vehicles behind me have to wait. Some motorists are annoyed & impatient. That I understand. I don't understand when local Hillbillies harass me unprovoked for sport. Apparently the gene pool could use a little more chlorine?

Rich Harris said...

First of all, the thought of you blaming yourself for using the road at 3:00 is equivalent to an African American blaming himself for what happens in a racist enclave in Alabama in the 60's after dark. Its bad enough when wider society plays "blame the victim." You shouldn't. You have every right to the road at any time of day. Full stop.

I hope you can get over this and that they find these evolutionary laggards and that the courts have the balls to apply justice.

Reading this really makes me want to get a helmet cam, and, if I ever come to Missoula late at night, perhaps some caltrops.

BTW, are there any CCTV camera's in Missoula. Did they run any automated red light cameras?

Max said...

Others have said it, but to make sure you understand, THIS IS NOT YOUR FAULT. Unless there is some strange Missoula law that curfews cyclists at midnight and permits drunk driving, vehicular homicide, speeding, and overall lawlessness, then I would think twice about self blame.

I have unfortunately experienced a very similar incident in Savannah, Ga, many years ago. Culture clash I guess you could say. Your only crime was that you were different. Time to trade in the bike for that truck.

I think this is a great opportunity for the cycling community to band together and address this.

Glad your alright.


Dave said...

What a sad reminder that evil exists in our society, and often lurks in the most everyday places. What should have been a routine ride home turned into a nightmare. And what was the motive for the attack? You were on a bike. You were attacked for no other reason than that you were perceived to be "different."

While I have never had a situation even close to what you describe, I encounter enough road rage to make me wonder what kind of society we live in and where we as a nation are headed. If someone can be thrown into a homocidal rage simply for being delayed five seconds on the road, AND this phenomenon is common enough to have a name, then what kind of society is this?

When I started riding regularly about three years ago, I was somewhat naive. I thought all I'd have to do was wear bright clothing, use lights and ride defensively, and everything would be OK. What I was unprepared for was the amount of rage I would receive from drivers who were mad at my basic existence as a cyclist.

It's sad but true: as a cyclist you have to keep your head up, take nothing for granted and expect the unexpected.

I'm forwarding the blog post so that you get a high traffic count. Then maybe you can go to the local police and say "look at how much attention this incident is getting nationally; what an embarrassment for Missoula." Maybe then they'll take it seriously enough to prevent future attacks on other cyclists, and maybe even catch the troglodytes that attacked you.

D Cox said...

You FELT persecuted? Why so uncertain? It WAS persecution. It was also reckless endangerment, attempted vehicular homicide, operating while intoxicated, and all-around general douche-baggery of the most unacceptable kind.

Small town cops know EVERYONE with a propensity for violence and I'm certain that they could easily deduce the identities of those attempted murderers with nothing more than a sufficiently detailed description of the truck.

Don't back down.

Daniel Nairn said...

Sorry to hear this story, man.

Especially with the rough last few months Missoula has had with drunk drivers, it is amazing that this stuff is still going on. I really think the police should know. I doubt they would shrug this one off, but if they do you can always go to the Missoulian or the Independent. And I agree with the other commenters, that you are 0% to blame on this. Roads are for everyone, any time.

Alan B said...

Definitely not your fault whatsoever, these guys are assholes and deserve to be punished.

Royall said...

Would you say a rape victim is at fault? Shouldn't have been walking alone at night wearing that sort of skirt?

Don't blame the victim, especially when it's yourself!

CoCargoRider said...

I know this may upset some people, but does MT have a make my day law that allows one defend themselves against a deadly attack?

I am firmly in the belief that the clock is ticking before a cyclist who has a legal CNC defends themselves against a studid driver using what is a 3K lb deadly weapon to play games.

inkyfingers said...

Interesting that this happened to you on a bike in Missoula. I went to UM (GO GRIZ!) as an undergraduate, and I can recall fleets of bicycles outside the Top Hat during the summer. Of course, these were property of the smoke jumpers, and any redneck foolish enough to push a bicyclist around quickly had more than a fight on his hands.

Sounds like you need a winter version of this pedal militia.

Pepe Lepew said...

Remember those drunk fuck kids from Frenchtown who beat up a couple of guys on Higgins because they thought one of them had a gay hat?

Drunks in P.U.s in the middle of the night. Bad news.

ZenDude said...

Although I agree that this is not your fault, we need to be smart about our choices. I don't drive a car at 3 am because of drunk drivers so I agree that you did make a poor decision. I tell my kids to stay where they are if you are out too late.

It always saddens me that the police(everywhere) don't take this more seriously. They wait until someone dies and then they get serious. They should be protecting everyone, including cyclist! Peace and glad that you are okay!

Andreas said...

What a horrific story. I can't believe the situation you were put in. These guys couldn't have been more stupid. I think you should pester the police until something gets done. Somewhere they must have been caught on camera or something?

Also don't blame yourself you have every right to be out there on the road at any time you want. More so than any car

Anonymous said...

You know that flight is probably the worst reaction in that scenario? I'm sorry that happened to you. What you should do is stay in place and front like you'll put down. When they see you are serious, they usually back off. It's like a loose dog. Stand your ground and kick it in the face.

Chewie said...

Glad you're okay!

Don't let a bunch of assholes get you down. They threatened Martin Luther King too.

With all the shit cyclists put up with in this country, it's amazing anyone rides at all. Your example is important. Hope you keep riding.

murphstahoe said...

The problem with a fixie is that it is harder to drop the chain so you have open chainrings to use as a defensive weapon.

PMan said...

As one of the other writers commented - don't know about your position on guns, but sounds like packing a piece on such excursions wouldn't be such a bad idea.

Anonymous said...

Its is amazing you changed the story. First you were driving your bike impaired, and now your not. How convenient.

Erik Griswold said...

I would investigate what the concealed-carry laws are in your location. Next time you might not get away. And the Police cannot help.

Patia said...

I'm sorry I am just now reading this. And I'm so sorry this happened to you. I echo everyone else who said you are absolutely not to blame for this. It's NOT your fault.

I'd like to humbly suggest, though, that guys like these probably would pick on anyone they perceive as "different" or "weak," whether that's a guy on a bike or someone who is gay or black or Asian or fat or homeless.

I can't tell you how many times I've had "drive-bys" -- guys yelling insults at me because I'm fat.

Maybe you being on a bike added sport to it, like the thrill of the chase, but I think the base motive is the same: hate of what is different.

Unknown said...

You didn't do anything wrong. It wasn't your fault at all. Shit happens.

They could have beaten you up for any reason at all including wearing the wrong sports team logos.

I'm glad you are OK.

Unknown said...

Sorry to hear about that. One option you have is to not ride your bike at that hour anymore. That option is unacceptable.

And you now know how helpful the cops will be.

That's why I'm a big advocate of self defense. Things like (legally) concealed firearms can be extremely handy in times like these if you've got the training and the will to use them.

Of course, they aren't for everyone. However, you are not at fault and did nothing wrong.

CarFree Stupidity said...

Holly shit... thats a lot of comments
Thanks for the outpouring of support everyone. I've been purposely ignoring reading the comments this week... just trying not to dwell (maybe thats why I'm suddenly a workaholic, hello 12-16 hr days).

I don't even no where to start reading all these. Many of you have shared similar experiences and I thank you for making me feel less isolated after something so crazy. After almost a year exploring the depths of the bicycle blogging world I guess I had only scratched the surface after seeing the varied faces of bloggers commenting here and giving me some much needed support. I wish I had the time to thank everyone individual... but hey, this is the internets so I can do it in mass without leaving my couch. The reassurance that people have given me is refreshing and the encouragement very welcome.

As for the concealed weapon idea... that just sounds bad, and besides, where am I supposed to conceal it in my skinny jeans?

On wards and upwards!

Anonymous said...

It seems apparent, anonymous assumed you were drunk rather than understanding a literary turn-of-phrase....drunkard's path.

CarFree Stupidity said...

Lisa... Bingo.

Anonymous said...

This is NOT your fault, you have every right to be on the road at that hour, the same right as those idiots. It's not like they close the streets to sane people at midnight. They could have killed you, I would talk to the DA about having them arraigned on attempted murder. If it were me, I'd start riding armed.

Mr. Doom said...

Welcome to America, this $hit goes on daily all over the country because 99% of idiots worship car culture above all else. The cops love cars, the military loves cars, media loves cars, hollywood loves cars, every add on tv or in the newspaper tells you to go fu@k a car to gain enlightenment. I do not see it changing anytime soon.

I know people in missoula who turn off there lights late at night so they are not spotted by rednecks, the good old boys and fratboys driving around in search of cyclists to terrorize. Before I found a light so frickin bright it will burn out your retinas I felt defenseless at night also, (thanks magicshine).

Good luck returning to the cycling world and don't let the bastards get you down, you will have the last laugh when all the fools can't afford gas.

Mindy said...

For several months last year, I had to be at work at 5 am, and I live 10 miles from work. I left home on my bike at 3:45 every morning, and was never harassed in any way. Statistically, I'm pretty sure I was safer at that hour than I am now when I ride in rush hour traffic. I REFUSED then and I refuse now to be afraid to go where I need to go when I need to go there, using the transportation of my choice! I encounter worse behaved motorists at 10 pm than I ever did in the middle of the night. Your incident was BAD LUCK, period!

But then I've never been through what happened to you, so easy for me to say, huh? My main point is, please don't blame yourself. Morons are out there 24 hours a day...again, this was simply bad luck. I am so sorry it happened.

Mindy in Tucson

Karl McCracken (twitter: @karlonsea) said...

Bloody hell - that's scary.

I've got to pull you up on one point though - "I realize that I am at least partially responsible for the events that happened.".

No. Not at all. You should be able to ride / walk / drive / skip wherever you want at whatever time you want, without some tanked up bunch of eejits trying to kill you.

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