Thursday, March 02, 2006

Muslim woman flips me the middle finger

Last night I went for a bike ride over the mountain pass via the road. I attempted to find a path thru the forest back over the mountain but the sun was setting and I ran out of sunlight so I was forced to take the mountain pass road back.

Unfortunately this is very dangerous because
1. there are no street lights
2. it's very fast and windy and narrow
3. there are pot-holes that could cause me lose control
4. losing control could be fatal because of other cars, trucks, motorbikes, cliffs, ditches
5. on-coming traffic often cross over the double-line to straighten out curves
6. I have no lights so I'm not that visible
7. there is no shoulder so I'm forced to ride in the road with the vehicles
8. sharp-turns at high speed with sand and rocks can cause me to crash
9. head lights of oncoming vehicles blind me

My strategy is to wait at the top for a slow moving vehicle like a slow bus or slow car. I rode down the hill a little and stopped at a safe place in the road and awaited my "pace car". After 15 minutes I spotted a slow car. I know it was slow because it had vehicles piling up behind it.

I waited until the train of vehicles passed and I joined the train. Little by little I started passing cars, trucks and motorbikes working my way to the front. Finally I was two cars and a motorbike from the front but as I passed the motorbike, the female passenger screamed at me "Slow Down!"

Ten seconds later we rounded a hair-pin turn and I shadowed car #2. Cars can whip around these turns faster than bikes because the bike is on the outside where there is gravel but somehow I managed to keep my speed up thru the gravel.

The speed of the traffic picked up as we hit a straight section and the motorbike sped past me and again she yelled "Slow Down!" As they slowed for the next sharp turn I started to pass the motorbike but it moved over and attempted to block me from passing. I kept my speed up and he noticed I wasn't slowing down so he let me by and again she yelled "Slow Down!"

I wanted to get away from this motorbike so I passed car #2 and got into tight formation with the lead car. I stayed on it's left bumper (remember that in Malaysia they drive on the left side of the road) so I could see the upcoming road and watch out for pot-holes and gravel.

I become one with that car. If it sped up, I sped up. If it slowed, I slowed. I was literally a shadow riding about two feet from it's left rear bumper using it's head-lights as my personal flash-light to see where I was going.

We averaged about 30 mph. My bike has 18 gears and I was in gear 18 the whole way down. This was definitely a day of extremes as I spent a lot of time in gear 1 grinding up long steep hills then gear 18 flying down them.

Finally we reached the bottom of the hill and the road was well lit and straight with a big shoulder once again. The vehicles picked up speed and started to pass me since it was now flat and I was slowing down as they were speeding up.

As the motorbike passed me the Muslim woman looked back and flipped me the middle finger.

I've noticed that people on motorbikes are annoyed when they get passed by a bicycle. People also get frightened if you go very fast or down a very steep trail.

Earlier in the day I was headed down a steep and windy cement motorbike trail. There were some very sharp turns. I passed a Muslim couple and the woman was gasping each time I rounded a turn as if she thought I was going to fly off the cliff and die.

But this was just a normal day at the office for me.