Friday morning I rode the Field Club Trail to work from Vinton to Pacific. With temperatures in the mid to upper 20s, the pre-dawn ride was very pleasant. It was very dark in some places, and I even came close to oncoming joggers a couple of times, despite having both a solid halogen beam and a blinky LED on my handlebars, I didn't see them. I am sure they saw me, so I wasn't worried about collisions.
To each person I overtook or passed in the opposite direction I gave my cheery, "Good morning!" Most either waved or greeted me back.
As I was approaching Pacific Street, I came upon a man walking a tiny dog. "Good morning," I said in my genuine "it's a great day to be alive" voice. He must have thought I said something else, as his response was a loud:
"You're not supposed to be on here, rapscallion!"
Note, that the word "rapscallion" was not his word of choice. I was called an important part of both the male and female anatomy; a part of significance to cyclists, in that if this particular body part is sore, one cannot enjoy a day in the saddle.
Well, how do I react to this? I just chuckled to myself. The thought that I, while cycling, was not permitted on the Field Club Trail, was preposterous.
I have a fatal flaw. In situations of public rudeness, I always try to imagine why someone would act that way. I always speculate and try to rationalize the behavior. The best I could come up here was:
- The dog walker thought I was a motorcycle, electric scooter, or some other sort of motorized vehicle due to my bright headlights. I don't ride particularly fast, but perhaps he saw me coming for a half-mile or more, with anger building up by the time I finally passed him. Despite my friendly greeting, he had already worked out what he was going to say to me.
- He thought there were some sort of hours of operation that disallowed cyclists on the trail at certain times, perhaps excluding bikes in the pre-dawn hours. I tried to find an online resource outlining trail hours of operation, but could not. I do know that some city parks have operating hours posted prohibiting use between, for example, midnight to 5am. I think these are posted to outlaw overnight parking.
- He's loony.
The gesture was appreciated, though, and helped to assure me that there are probably more friendly drivers than crazy dog walkers.