In which we ride by the beach.
The Third leg of the trip was the one that I was excited for. Just a few miles biking along the beach, and enjoying the sun. For a couple hundred meters, it actually wasn’t that bad. Any why would it be bad? There were two lanes going each way, and the cars had ample space to go around us. Plus traffic was light. Having just ridden on a highway, we were all a little frazzled, so the calmer road was a welcome break.
But it was a chance moment, in an otherwise uninterrupted harassment bonanza. The honking began, and our fear responses were potentiated by our previous highway experience. Stocky men yelled at us from trucks. Obese women honked from vans. Southeast asian men came within inches of our handlebars. The back and forth between me and the drivers was standard. Get on the sidewalk; fuck you. Move over; fuck you. You look like fags; fuck you. Only afterwards did I realize that my comebacks were lacking in variation. Whenever someone would yell at us, I could only yell the same two words back. They came out like a growl – a combination of hard breathing and unadulterated rage.
And then two lanes became one.
Riding became much worse and we gave up riding on the road like decent, hardworking, respectable cyclists. I acquiesced and we got on the sidewalk like so many teenagers and BU students. It was embarrassing. So fuck you Revere. There is a reason that your beachfront property is affordable. The reason is that your city is populated by animals in people suits. I suppose most people are picturing pigs or something in a person suit, because everything imagines a mammal when they hear animal. Many mammals are capable of emotions and empathy, so this may not be the best comparison, but then again some of them eat their young. So, it would be best to imagine cannibalistic hamsters in human suits. I guess there would have to be like 100 hamsters in each human suit, but that just means more hamster babies for them to eat.
By the time this sidewalk ended, we didn’t have any choice, but to jump back into the shittiness. After all, we couldn’t give up. We are going to the beach and we are going to have. A. GOOD. TIME.
The fourth leg was a new jersey style strip, where chain restaurants are next to shitty dive bars and run down local businesses. It was barely noon, and there were bar flies standing outside, smoking cigarettes; already a drink or two in. We were in Lynn and I was wondering if that famous lyric was true. Were these boozers once different people from a different city? Did they come out the same way that they came in? Or is that a moot question? No one ever moves out of Lynn, or into Lynn, for that matter. They had the premature wrinkles that you see on people with hard lives.
We made it around the rotary with minimal honking. People still sped past us, and they still drove like assholes, but it was manageable. This was like cycling in Sullivan square, so it wasn’t so bad. Familiar, even.
The fifth leg consisted of the isthmus, which connects Nahant to Lynn. Nahant is supposed to be the beginning of the wealthy north shore, and the end of the city of sin, so we were excited. Assuming that cycling opinions divide roughly by education and SES, we should be home free. The land bridge had two lanes, but no bike lane or sidewalk. Drivers could pass us with ease, if they wanted to.
I apologize if this was predictable, but the drivers didn’t want just pass us with ease.
The would drive up behind us and tell us to get on the sidewalk (there was none) or the bike lane (there was none). I should qualify this by saying that there were patches of side walk, and an occasional shoulder. None consistent enough to ride on.
One guy swerved toward us in an attempt to push us to the right. I memorized his license plate number. I didn’t know why, but I did. One guy yelled at us for a while, and explained that he was a biker (yeah right) and told us to “get to the side” wherever that was. Before I could explain he sped off, I managed to memorize his 4 digits of his license plate number. If I saw his car, my plan was to let the air out of his tires.
One guys revved his engine and came up behind us, as if he was waiting for us to scatter like a school of fish. Then he abruptly changed lanes and passed us. Bastard.
I want to be clear, none of these were isolated incidents. We were completely law abiding in every way, and people just treated us like dirt. This post has gotten too long. I’ll have to detail the return trip in the fourth edition.