Today is my dad's 65th birthday. Happy birthday, Plain Ba! We lured him up here to celebrate and we had a rockin' good day that involved the twins sleeping until 6:30 a.m. (late!), breakfast at Grand Central, college football on TV, a bike ride (me and the kids), and dinner at the Old Spaghetti Factory. After dinner, we sent him on his way home with a six-pack of homemade chocolate cupcakes with chocolate frosting and lots of sprinkles; we'd hoped he would spend a couple of more nights with us, but he had to get home to view the last Formula One race of the season with his racing buddies, live on TV at 4:30 a.m. tomorrow morning. That's dedication.
It was an Oregon day today. It was chilly, and it rained nonstop, never hard, usually barely qualifying as rain, in fact, more of a steady mist. I started to get cabin feverish around 2 p.m. and decided to head out for a bike ride with Maddie. Then Riley decided to come along, so we were a full load on the three-bike. The twins are imprervious to cold and damp and I was happy to get the fresh air. We had a lovely ride of 6 or 7 easy miles. There was one lost (and found) scarf along the way plus two stops: one to pick "wildflowers" (some kind of flowering weed?) and one to admire a lovely flowering garden. We sang some songs and waved at other bikers and it seemed to be refreshing for us all.
Oregon is a very bike-friendly town. I bike commuted to work for a while when I lived in Boston, and I regularly had unpleasant interactions with car drivers, ranging from a complete lack of awareness of my presence to a complete lack of understanding of bicycle rules of the road to outright hostility that I'd have the right to be on the road in the first place. Sometimes it was a combination of those three things. Here in Portland, I've encountered very little of that type of behavior. Some of that is due to the large and ever-expanding selection of well planned bike routes around the city (a mix of dedicated bike lanes, bike boulevards) and a higher than typical general awareness awareness of bikes on the road. Some of it is that there's just less congestion in the areas in which I ride, so there's less chance for a negative encounter. Some of it is just luck, I suppose.
Our route today forced us to spend just two blocks on a somewhat narrow and somewhat busy somewhat major street. Some people were getting out of their street-parked car as we went by; I checked behind me (no traffic) and then moved out to go around them as they got out of their vehicle. I was well within my lane, and was not in violation of any laws. They people in the car waved at M&R, who are like little neighborhood ambassadors on the back of the bike. A vehicle was approaching in the oncoming lane, which barely registered for me since I was not in any way impeding its passage and was about to take a right turn off the main drag anyway. But the oncoming vehicle slowed, the window came down, and a gruff male voice yelled, "STUPID BITCH!" before the SUV picked up speed and continued its journey.
He was clearly talking to me. The people who had just waved at Maddie and Riley exchanged puzzled looks with me, we turned, and it was over. I don't even think M&R noticed. I am sure I was not disobeying any laws, and I have no idea what the guy was even thinking. Am I stupid for riding a bike at all? For riding it on the street? For having kids on the back of the bike? For wearing a helmet? For being out in the rain? For existing? Who knows. There's certainly no reason at all that a complete stranger in a car should be able to judge whether or not I'm a bitch.
It's probably just one of those instances of car/bike hostility. He probably has no ideas what the rules of the road are for a cyclist. That certainly doesn't make it right to yell derogatory jeers at someone. It would be easy to shake off if the guy hadn't yelled such a thing at me with my children on the back of the bike. I'm glad they were focused on other things.
My life contains many instances of the good of humanity. It's so disconcerting to be reminded of the bad and the ugly.