DC Bike Commuter Faces Hostile Biker on CC Trail
I was on the Capital Crescent Trail (CCT), heading toward Bethesda at around 6:00 p.m. I had been enjoying a leisurely ride when a guy passed me by the Dalecarlia Tunnel going at a pretty good clip, and I thought it would be a good pace to get me home quickly. So I sprinted the 100 yards or so to catch up and settled in behind him, figuring that as soon as I recovered from the effort of catching up, I would return the favor and take a pull as pace-setter, a totally acceptable and ordinary practice, not to mention a nice way to meet and exchange stories with other cyclists.
But this nut-job I was following had other plans. First of all, he would pass people without warning them or signaling me, which I found dangerous, so I backed off a little, keeping about 3 feet of space between us. My bike has a bell, so I would ding it a couple of times if I saw someone up the road. Unless he was deaf or wearing headphones (which I did not see), there is no way in h*ll that he did not know I was back there.
At this point, I had been behind the guy for a maximum of a half-mile (we were now nearing the stairway that leads down off of the east side of the CCT toward the walking path along the Little Falls stream). I had caught my breath fully and had just begun to look up the road to see if it was clear for me to come around to take a pull when, WHAM! He slams on his brakes, locking up both wheels and, of course, sending me into the back of his bike.
Over the screech of our skidding tires, without looking up, the guy yells, “I KNEW IT!” and then turns around, face purple with rage, and adds for good measure, “A**HOLE!” and then pedals hard up the road. Somehow I had managed to grab my brakes and unclip. It was only dumb luck that I avoided going down hard.
I’ve been an avid cyclist for over 20 years, putting in 1,500 – 4,500 miles per year in commutes (year-round), large weekend club rides, small group rides, and solo treks. I have only once before heard someone express anger at a cyclist for following, and that person expressed it verbally, not by pulling a dangerous stunt like this.
Was it wrong or impolite for me to sit in behind another rider in the first place?
To the general cycling public: be on the lookout for a guy in his mid-40’s (a wild guess), wearing round, metal-framed eyeglasses, riding a hard-tail mountain bike with a rack and a single pannier slung over the drive side. The rack may have a broken reflector. Yesterday he was wearing black, red, blue Performance brand shorts and a black cycling jacket.
Cycling is one of the great joys of my life, but for a few seconds last night, one strange, hostile (possibly deaf?) man, sucked all of the joy from it.