Last weekend, after enjoying a lovely day of riding, which took a bit longer than anticipated, I was scurrying home for my dinner date. Traffic was getting heavier as I headed west, leaving the relative isolation of the Northern Neck and approaching Fredericksburg, a suburban metropolis perched along the busy I-95 corridor.
As I zipped through traffic, dodging the ever-present, inconsiderate left-laners, I noticed another bike approaching from the rear. Its rider who seemed to be in a bit of a hurry, too, tucked in behind me.
I actually managed to maintain a spirited pace for a good bit of time, zigging and zagging, smartly and safely, across the asphalt. I was in that pleasant zone where gaps between vehicles are large enough and the timing of the lights was firmly in my favor.
Inevitably, a red signal at a busy intersection forced me to stop. The bike I’d been seeing in my mirrors for miles pulled to a stop beside me. It was a big BMW sport-tourer, either a 1200 or 1600. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw the guy lift his visor. I was surprised to see he was a fifty-ish Black man.
“How long have you been riding that thing? You’re pretty good!” he said with a hearty laugh.
I answered his question, laughing too. We chatted briefly, then the signal changed to green and we were off. Not long afterward, he peeled off and I continued on my own path.
I took what he said as a compliment. Some women may have been offended. I mean, he never would have said that to a guy, would he? You know, since it’s just assumed that a male should be able to ride.
Maybe he wasn’t thinking I ride well for a girl. Maybe he was just another rider who wanted to let me know he’d been having fun with me leading him swiftly through traffic. Perhaps most women he’d encountered were rookie riders. Or just plain pokey.
And what about my surprise that a middle-aged Black man was on a big BMW? Could he have been offended? Would he have known that, based on my personal experience, most Black men I’d seen riding were either on sport bikes or fully dressed HDs and/or Goldwings? (I’m not a brand snob. A ride is a ride.)
Getting even a little miffed about what he’d said would have made me an uptight person. There are FAR too many of them already in this world. It would’ve firmly planted me in the camp of people-who-take-shit-far-too-personally.
As much as I like people, I can’t help but get discouraged by society. Folks trashing each other on social media, just because they can. Or getting their panties/boxers all in a wad over something someone said, did, posted. Something they, the observer, took the wrong way, or didn’t take the time to even think about. People harboring petty jealousy and hate, unaware of the malignant blackness those feelings feed in their hearts.
I didn’t mean for this to be a rant, really. It’s been a difficult year. Not so much for me, personally, although I’ve been a bit of a victim, too.
I just wish people would be nicer. No one enjoys a bunch of sour grapes.