Published on August 11 2017
Part of a series about Canada 2017
“Get the f*ck off the road, you assh*les!”
Our most cryptic yell of encouragement yet, supplied by a blustering red effigy leaning out of a pick-up truck window on highway 17.
Not everyone approves of what we’re doing, which is fine. Some people specifically disapprove of us doing it (“get a job!”, Kristian was told). Others, thankfully infrequent, disapprove of the whole concept of cyclists.
To them I say, “there’s plenty of space for us on the roads yo!”. If you’re against cyclists and reading this and remain unconvinced, email me and we can discuss in more detail. It’s hard to provide a counter-argument more sophisticated than a middle finger when you’re speeding away from us in your pick-up or vehicle of choice.
Usually support – verbal, gestured, honked – is more straight forward and pleasant. Things like “wow, that’s amazing! Ride safe boys”, a thumbs up, a wave, or a couple of good old fashioned horn honks.
Trying to decipher intent behind honks is an ambiguous and interesting game though. A sustained blast seems to signify “get out of the way” or “look out behind you”. A series of short pips usually feels encouraging, especially if it’s a recognisable rhythm. On a bike, the closer a car is when they honk the more hostile it feels, but it’s hard to gauge if this is intentional.
We deal with this ambiguity by taking every honk as supportive.
But trains honking is a different matter. When you’re sleeping in rural places and they honk incessantly through the night it’s a nuisance (apparently this is a legal requirement whenever they pass an un-barriered crossing, which can be quite common). When one honks immediately behind you on tracks running parallel to the road, it’s almost heart-attack inducing.
This happened once and I bowled straight off the road into the shoulder, nearly slipping over, because I thought a juggernaut was approaching in the road and giving me a desperate and last-minute “don’t get flattened” warning.