Sep 5, 2007

Just a ride home

The end of the day began as a perfectly normal beginning of the end of the day. The Blaze, my ride for the day, trinned to an uneven sort of start without problems. The ride home was uneventful to the extreme (just like yours Sriku), the Blaze surprising me with the amount of grip it had on the wet, slick roads. And with the ride quality, which only gets scooter-bouncy over the worst stuff.

I turn right, about two km from home on a road that's been under construction for the past three years at least. Its fairly steep uphill for about two hundred metres, and then snakes gently for the rest of the two kilometres home. With trucks and tempos perpetually parked, it's always narrow, but not always slow.

I turn onto this road, rear wheel spinning up slightly and go around three or four cars from the left, using the autorickshaw sized hole between the construction marking corrugated sheets and the cars. No worries. Then I spot a beat-up old autorickshaw struggling uphill. There's a gap, and I use it to get around it and ahead, passing the auto on the right. Ahead, there's a bus slowly inching through the worst of the road, at the crest. Behind him is a white Zen and then me.

Then I feel something tilting the scooter to the left. I whip around to see an Esteem slowly inching uphill, unaware that it's already made contact. My piercing bellow gets the fool's attention - he's been yakking away with the fat lady in the passenger seat. No harm done. Yet. He raises in hand in a casual, 'Oops!' and inches another couple of well, inches ahead. Now he is touching my riding pants with the bumper.


This time, he stops altogether. I pull ahead, and check the damage - none. Great.

The bus is still snail-pacing through the bad stuff. I spot a gap on the right and head in to see if I can get around the bus with space to spare. Halfway through, I realise it's futile. I stop, put the foot down and wait for him to finish.

When he does, I do a lifesaver check. The Zen is still wobbling through and I've got more than ten car lengths of space. So I pull in behind the bus.

A few seconds later... rising hair on the back of my neck.

I frantically check my mirrors... nothing. I turn my head. The effing Zen driver is three inches off to my right, taking up the same position as I - one car length from the Bus. WTF?

I pull slightly left to give him space. He takes it, gratefully I assume, and slowly keeps pulling left until he's about three inches off again. Double WTF?

I hold position waiting for him to back off. He doesn't oblige. I have some time to turn and look at him. He's ignoring me. This is not funny, he's got an axe to grind. Against what?

He makes a mistake. He changes gear out of sync with the bus, and suddenly I'm in the middle of the lane. The left side is dug up, with debris lying about. I've left less than half a car's width on the right. He can't run parallel anymore. I'm safe.

Not. He pulls into the debris-filled space and I hear him gun the engine and take up the same position on the my left. The car's shuddering from the debris, but he isn't backing off. And this time, I sense him turning the wheel and inch ever closer to the scooter. What is this guys problem?

My chest is burning with acid, adrenaline is coursing like water from broken dam. My mouth has gone dry, and tastes sour. The brain's volume has been rising. And it's now at the 'Are you Nuts?' setting. Ironically, that's also what it's thinking, mostly.

I rapidly consider my options. I don't know what the problem is, so stopping is out. I'm not up for a fist-fight. I could simply let him past. No, that's out. Its wet and the Blaze, though it has a disc, won't be a match if he decides to brake test me. Or he could just stop, leaving me no choice but the fist fight I don't want. No, I've to stay ahead of this arsehole. Besides if he is just jousting for the prized place behind the bus, I cannot let him off thinking that scaring bikers out of space is the way to get it. No, I've got to stay ahead of this arsehole. I take another look into the car, his wife is seated, looking fairly worried in the front seat. Two kids, oblivious, are gambolling in the back seat. Is this guy nuts? A family nut, even?

He tries to pull across at a minor intersection, I deny him by ducking into the space just before the intermittent median begins again. The bus parks up at a stop, I pull over quietly behind the bus. He does too. Still two inches off to my left, and still staring pointedly ahead. I take the time to review what I could've done to piss him off. I come up with zip. Overtaking the bus is no option either. What the fuck do I do?

Some sort of straw breaks the camel's back in the next two hundred metres. Home is only four hundred metres away. The bus speeds up and suddenly, we're playing chicken at over 50 kph. This is insane. Fortunately, I'm on the right. I spot a break in the median, pull smoothly into the empty oncoming traffic lane. I sense him prepare to make the same move. So I don't acclerate past just yet. I hang just outside enough to keep an eye on the oncoming side of the road. I'm waiting... for something...

Then I see a scooter coming the other way. I flash my lights at him. He pulls over a bit. Like a typical Indian rider, he chooses to give me only as much space as he thinks I can squeeze through. Perfect. I've never been more thankful for the Blaze's motor. The scooter surges smoothly ahead, the bus a welcome red blur on my left. I see a headlight wink out from behind the bus. And then hear a faint screeching sound as he spots the indifferent scooter rider.

It's done. A deep sort of relief is marked on the edges by the urgency of needing to get off this road. Not slowing for anything the road throws up, I work through traffic like a hot knife through butter. Moments later I smoothly pull into my society compound, and heft the Blaze onto the center stand and realise that my hands are shaking.

If he'd as much as touched the Blaze, I'd have been in serious trouble.

But I survived. I kept my wits about me for as long as needed. Now is not that time. My hands are shaking. My chest is heaving with intense, piercing, almost painful relief. And the effing brain won't shut up, 'Let's go find that dick and ask him why?'


Hrishi said...

Why didnt you just bang HARD on his window and ask?

I don't have as much will power as you do to hold my temper. In a similar situation, i have kicked a small dent in the car door before zooming off. Not that im too proud of it :(

But these morons should be taught a lesson they will remember, so that next time the biker gets as much respect as he deserves.

Anonymous said...

sounds like a psychotic driver.. good you didnt take panga with him. rule # 1 of life is to run from psychos!

kaushik said...

Haha happens to me quite often too. It was quite a good thriller to read! I try to bully such people with my loud horn n silencer. After all, I guess what you ride matters too, not just how you ride it. The Bullet does have a commanding presence.

The wife says its all pure vanity and aggression. Can save a lot of temper by letting these ppl ahead at the cost of FIVE minutes. No point in boiling the blood. It always sounds like the right thing to do. But have never done it on the road, the spur of the moment takes it all. I have kicked cars and autos with my steel toe Cat, broken the tail lights, stopped in front and abused, even fist fights... What a waste, how silly! People can never be taught sense through aggression.

Anonymous said...

:| there is another problem with these bozos on a route you frequent

they show up again.

prolly while having a tiff with the wife or whatever it takes to upset them

I wish I had a whistle or whatever to summon up a 18 wheeler ...

JIC you don't either watch them mirrors.


Anonymous said...

"I turn onto this road, rear wheel spinning up slightly..."

You are a fake. This didn't really happen. Not on a Blaze.

rearset said...

Did too. It was slippery, gravelly and the Blaze throttle was WFO. Try it sometime.

The BATFAN said...

@ Anonymous
You are a fake. This didn't really happen. Not on a Blaze.

Dude, the fact that this is posted after moderation is proof in itself. But I don't have any intention to flame here. The point is you should know your ride before judging others. I told my friend recently that I there was a noticeable difference in the way the rear of my bike was behaving. Knowing that I never give out my bike and have been riding nearly a 1000 KM every month for the last year, he asked me what made me feel so because things which we do often hardly get noticed by us. It is normally noticed by somebody else. But I said I was sure of it because I always knew the behavior of my bike and of late I felt it behaving a bit odd in circumstances it should not. The oddity was only the fact that I felt a very slight loss of confidence on the traction available which may have changed by a very minor percentile. But the point is to have the skill to notice the difference and judge accordingly to be able to take evasive action. My guess is most of the accidents not only happen because of lack of skill. I am not so skilled myself and I know that. The point is bad things happen when you don't read the signs. Because the slight change in traction may accentuate to a significant change over a longer time without you realizing the gradual subtle change. So as always on a bike as in life pay attention to your surroundings and please ...

Think !!!

The BATFAN said...

But the point is to have the skill to notice the difference and judge accordingly to be able to take evasive action.

Replace the work "skill" in the line above with the word "focus".

Hey rearset. You never told me whether you got it Good Man.

Guess you didn't. It's even then.

theslayer said...

@rearset: Temper control just as good your throttle control abilities eh :p

I'm good at that too.. but I'm sure the day isn't far when all this is gonna get to my head and I pick a gun from some locker in a school in the US and start shoooting everybody on a ride with more than 2 wheels. Quite possible.

There... you have a psychotic regular at your blog now :D

@batfan: Well said!

@anonymous: Batfan is right? Isn't he?

Anonymous said...

Ummm ... car drivers tend to do that to bikers .. think we are invisible. :) or if they ignore us long enough we will get the message.

What really gets my goat are bikers who try hard and put the tip of their front wheel before yours in traffic and expect that you give way to them.

- Yugesh

Payeng said...

Maybe it just the "Catch me if you can" sticker (Yuck..!!) pasted on the backside of the Blaze by Kinetic..

Anonymous said...

could you pl explain the "rear wheel spinning slightly" bit? what does it mean, and why does someone doubt that it can happen on the Blaze?

Anonymous said...

could u pl explain the bit @

rearset said...

Man! The road was steepy uphill, partially dug up and therefore covered in filth. When I plugged the throttle to full, the rear wheel couldn't find enough traction and was spinning faster than it should at the speed it was travelling at.

People are doubting this because between the wasteful auto transmission and the 11 bhp engine, the Blaze cannot possible spin up.

But that's true under good traction. Under poor conditions, anything, including your bicycle can spin up. Man!

rearset said...

Posted for --xh--

My browser is acting up and is not allowing me to post comment – what ever I do, the post a comment page is not showing up.

The ‘Just a ride’ was scary. The narration was gripping, and I am happy that at the end of the day, you are fine. Some guys ARE nuts, and nothing but a proper spanking on ass can cure them. To play with the life of his whole family.. Man, that guy is insane.

And the calm and cool you showed at that whole time – kudos to you.

Maximus said...

"Anonymous said...
"I turn onto this road, rear wheel spinning up slightly..."

You are a fake. This didn't really happen. Not on a Blaze."

Shows how much you know about a bike.... sad.. I just hope you're not a young kid out biking, would hate to see the future of Indian biking in succh ignorant hands..

Rearset - Dont bother explaining! Some just dont have it in them to understand, not until it happens to them, or with them! ;-)



ps - I would have yanked him out, beaten the shit outta him, and dumped him back in his car, glad patience still exists though!

another ps - those word verifiers suck! Ive got some 28976234 letters to type! :D

Sankoobaba said...

My hands are shaking. My chest is heaving with intense, piercing, almost painful relief. And the effing brain won't shut up, 'Let's go find that dick and ask him why?'

absolutely what happens .... for about hour you feel like you want to punch his face or at least tell him to quit driving

Glifford said...

A similar experience:

and yes, I started blogging :p

sriku said...

Man! a Blaze? whatever were you thinking...! The car guy sounds like he's trying to impress someone sitting alongside with some macho should have called his bluff, braked hard in the middle of the road, not taking your helmet off, walked to his side of the car and screwed his happiness. I've done worse, and I don't see what's wrong with reacting. Thanks for the link, but you need to stop going to those Anger management sessions! send me the license plate number, and I'll handle it.

sriku said...

And before anyone mentions 'fake' again, I have tried out the blaze, and it does wheel-spin when you least want it to...they've fed the damn thing some steroids, and it's a mutant moped. And whoever calls Rearset a fake should stop and check out some of the archived posts/reviews/comments...i mean, come on !

thinKinBLaQ said...

happened to me just today while on my way to work. the new flyover is taking quite a toll at the andheri junction. traffic's the worst you would ever want to be in. i was taking the usual 'biker route', from the left, single file. i still remember, it was a new maruti estilo. pink even. there was a 20 something guy in shades behind the wheel. WHACK, NUDGE, WHACK... wtf was this guy doing??? somehow managed to pull aside. quite shaken up, look behind just to see this guy nonchalantly gesture & ask me as to why i stopped. i showed him the finger. he flipped right back. road rage at it's peak i ask him wtf is wrong with him. he flips me once again. so i calmly take me helmet off, get the side stand down, walk to his car, put my hand in & yank the keys out of his car & had the pleasure of him watching me fling it clearly across the highway. kind of rash i know, but no one whacks into my baby, flips me twice & gets away with it. Just because i have 2 wheels & the ground 6 inches below my feet does not mean that i have no righ to own the road. hopefully i'm right. apologies if i'm not.