Friday, September 8, 2017

Friday No Quiz Just a Lamentation Over The Sorry State of Fred-dom

At some point in the not-too-distant future I suspect Outside will be publishing my latest bloviation, and once they do that you can be sure I'll be back here to rub it in your face.

In the meantime, I return to you from a morning road ride in which I was, for the first time in my life, the victim of Fred Rage:

No, there wasn't any actual physical "violence," as you see above, nor did he throw my bike over a guardrail:

He was, however, very, very angry, and here's how it went down.

This morning I sent my respective children off to their respective schools and had a little time to myself.  As any cycling parent knows, this is an exhilarating moment--so exhilarating that you don't know what to do first, and you immediately find yourself negotiating with three powerful impulses:

--To take a nap;
--To take a quiet, peaceful dump;
--To go for a ride.

With insufficient time to do more than one of those properly, I went with the last one.

I figured the best bang for my buck time-wise was to go for a good old-fashioned road ride.  By far the most popular road route around these parts is to head over the George Washington Bridge and up Route 9W.  I do this very seldom nowadays, opting for the less Fredded-out routes on my side of the Hudson, but I was feeling nostalgic for the days when I'd subject myself to the indignity of a paceline and cling to the back of the 1/2/3 field in the park races.

Plus the Fred Factor over there is generally much lower on weekdays, and so I figured what the hell.

Anyway, everything was going fine, and I was enjoying all of the things that make 9W great: close-passing luxury cars; riders in aerobars who shout "On your left!" even after you've made eye contact with them and moved over; giant flashing signs exhorting cyclists to BE SEEN, as though we somehow don't exist entirely in the physical plane and can tune into and out of it at will like the Cheshire Cat...

But it was on the return trip over the GWB where it all went pear-shaped.  (Or Fred-shaped.)

If you're unfamiliar with the GWB bike path, it's got all these crazy right angles and doglegs in it as it wraps around the bridge supports, which means oncoming cyclists tend to pass each other rather closely.  Having been through this rigamarole a gazillion times, I'm more than familiar with the routine, and at the first little zig-zag I kept to my side and passed an oncoming rider without incident.   However, after passing, he let out a mighty scream, like a Viking who's just returned to his longhouse from a bathroom break only to discover an enemy has slaughtered his family and then left a semen deposit inside his pointy horn helmet.

"That's weird," I thought.  Perhaps he had a near-miss with the rider behind me, I figured.  Putting it out of my mind, I continued on, only to find the enraged Fred now bearing down on me from behind.

"DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOU DID BACK THERE!," he screamed, or words to that effect, it's hard to remember, or frankly to care.

I assured him I did not.

What followed was a deluge of shouting and invective from which I eventually deduced he was under the impression that I'd almost run into him due to some sort of ostensibly reckless maneuver on my part.  I was, quite frankly, stunned, inasmuch as we'd simply ridden by each other on our respective sides of the path without so much as a visible wobble.  Indeed, I might even have been angry if only his accusations weren't so patently absurd.

The first thing I did was invite him to return back to the spot with me so he could show me what he thought I'd done wrong.  On the way, I also asked him if he'd be willing to conduct a video interview with me on the subject, because goddamn it I'm a bike blogger first and foremost and this was comedy gold.  Sadly he declined, and I didn't force the issue, because he was clearly unhinged and sticking a phone in his face was bound to push him over the edge.

As I suspected, returning to the scene of the crime offered no new information, and the fact remained that I'd been going one direction, he another, and that we'd both passed each other with no contact whatsoever.  Nevertheless, he maintained I'd done something wrong somehow, offering as evidence the fact that he rides over this bridge nearly every day.  I countered with the suggestion that perhaps he should consider riding a different route, as clearly this one was driving him insane.  I also asked him to contemplate how it was that I'd been riding over this bridge for decades now and had never, ever had a single encounter like this one.

This is not to say I was in any way hostile.  Far from it.  In fact, I daresay I handled the situation rather adeptly and diplomatically--especially since he shouted "FUCK YOU!" to me repeatedly, which are fighting words when hurled at pretty much anybody other than a "woosie" like me.  I credit my savoir faire in this situation to the fact that as a bike blogger I have 10 years of experience talking down to clueless Freds.  Plus, I'm the parent of a two year-old, and I know a temper tantrum when I see one.  As a parent, I also impressed upon him the importance of playing nice with people, because I honestly think one day this guy is gonna get killed.

In any case, if you're looking for a moral in all of this, there are two:

1) At one point or another we've all been this angry Fred, enraged and self-righteous in a situation we think we understand but really don't.  Maybe it's yelling at that customer service rep, or getting annoyed at the road work that's ultimately for your benefit, or stamping that package of Terra Chips to smithereens because WHY IS THE BAG SO FUCKING HARD TO OPEN???;

2) Avoid the whole GWB/9W thing, it's a real shitshow.

Ride safe this weekend.

I love you.


--Wildcat Rock Machine


recumbent conspiracy theorist said...

Scranus (pending moderator approval).

Anonymous said...


dancesonpedals said...

read it, and there are also angry citibike freds on the loose

Unknown said...

Safety first

Bill said...

Leasing a Hyundai!

Anonymous said...

Come on lets fight....for the podium

Anonymous said...

Nicely handled, Snobby

janinedm said...

I dunno, this is the time of year when I enjoy Route 9W. The trees! Autumnal light! The river! It's all so Rapha but like, legitimate, you know? I'll load up my mellow bike mix (90% classical guitar, 10% Seu Jorge and Joao Gilberto) and just vibe. It's corny, but you know what I'm talking about. I've seen Lob's Country. But never more than twice a year. The Freds make it insufferable pretty quick.

BamaPhred said...

File this guy under the chapter Moronology In your next book,

Anonymous said...


Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Top Ten Scranii!

Anonymous said...

we have all been an angry fred.

Anonymous said...

Didn't you know, (s)he who yells the loudest is always right? Clearly you must have done something wrong.

Or not. What the hell do I Know?

Scaranus Maximus!

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

Snob, is it possible you didn't notice what you did to the Fred owing to the fact that you were cranky as you did not have time to take a nap or take a quiet, peaceful dump prior to your ride? Probably not, but for the avoidance of any doubt, I felt I should ask.

Lieutenant Oblivious said...

I think that from now on when I am in a heated discussion, instead of raising my voice, I am going to use my hands to play the air accordion, like SCROTUS always does. He's gone far with it!

John said...

Same thing happened here yesterday, must have been something in the air

John W said...

I once got into a physical altercation with a Fred, but only because I made the mistake of calming down, realizing it wasn't worth fighting him and starting to turn back to my bike.

That's when the fucker tried to sucker...well, "sucker punch" wouldn't be the accurate term. It was kind of a sucker scratch/slap.

McFly said...

Way to take the high road Wildcat....just two shits passing in the night without incident.

Olle Nilsson said...

I sure hope that guy doesn't drive a car when he's not fredding about.


That Viking analogy really gave me the shivers!

Drock said...

Perhaps angry Fred just wanted to be mentioned in your blog. Job well done. I once crashed into that Marco or Mario guy you always take about but I didn't get pregnant.

Anonymous said...

I'm just curious as to what exactly it was the Fred thought you did wrong?

Anonymous said...

so what did said Fred say you did? rode the same path but in a different direction? come around the corner without shouting 'oncomming'? not give the super secret wave or head-nod? what?

leroy said...

Avoid the GWB/9W?

Not when my dog and I are feeling hopeless. They have a sign for that.

And not because some misguided Fred gets bent out of shape when he can't negotiate the 30 feet of turns around the GWB stanchions.

My dog and I agree it is important not to cede the field to jerks.

(I may have to clear my head on 9W this weekend. My dog and I are bailing on the NJ Gran Fondo this weekend due to Hurricane issues in Florida. It's complicated.)

bad boy of the south said...

It's too bad that you didn't use the comment approval system on him, knowing how tekkie the world is.

Serial Retrogrouch said...

Man, Snob, that exact scenario happened to me on the GWB! Except I was in no way diplomatic about it... when the Fred shouted invectives at me, I ricocheted and echoed them right back to him. That was some years ago, if I were to find myself in that situation again, I'd probably just laugh in his face because it IS comedy gold.

Cat 404 e-Racer said...

Strava flyby is so cool!

I can see the place on the Fort Lee side where you back track and let Fred vent.

Too bad he hasn't posted his ride or maybe he's even more pissed now because in his rage he erased his Strava track accidentally.

The Candid Cyclist said...

Sorry, that was me. I hadn't taken my quiet peaceful dump yet and was a little cranky.

Ragnar Lothbrook said...

So you're watching Vikings, then?

"I love you"

No, you don't.

nscadu 9 said...

The last time I experienced a fred rage incident was with a guy riding against traffic and unwilling to veer, at least until the last second, to oncoming cyclists. As he approached I said as kindly as possible (I reside in America's shattered foam helmet after all) "other side, eh" to which he responded with a "FUCK YOU", turned around, huffed after me and lectured me on how the government, other cyclists (he had passed 3 others on the same stretch of road already) or motorists had the right to tell him which side of the road to ride on and that I should stay out of his way if I don't want to get hurt. I don't have the energy to talk about this stuff anymore, so I said ok and he went on his way. I have come to the conclusion that guys like this whether on a bike or in a motor vehicle are clearly constipated. They get up in the morning with the same options you faced, opted for #2 found they were constipated and hopped on a bike to work their shit out.

BikeSnobNYC said...

Cat 404,

Ha! Can you see where I apparently almost hit him somehow?

--Wildcat Etc.

Anonymous said...

I'd love to see your Strava data, but I'm allergic to Strava.

Has anyone seen my epi-pen?

NHcycler said...

I feel lucky never to have been forced into a physical fight. Reasons 2, 3 & 4 are that I'm a 140lb. weakling, but No. 1 is I've got a lot to lose that an arrest record or assault charge would take away.

Usually, any encounter like that would be with a MV driver (or passenger). If it's bad enough, I give the plate & other info to the police (they're a tad nicer than how you describe NYC cops. They actually call me after the chat. A visit is all they can do. One of these days I'll get a camera).

cat 404 e-Racer said...

Yeah. It looks like your crime against Fredmanity occurred at 8:53A.

About then, you're nearly over the water and suddenly turn back.

I can see in the flyby where you go backwards on the bridge and stay put for a while.

No other Stravarians appear to have been around to witness your browbeating.

BikeSnobNYC said...

cat 404,

Hmmm, you must be on west coast time (or maybe my Strava is?), Crime Against Humanity was around noon.

I would like to see my path in relation to his path and how he thinks I violated it somehow.

--Wildcat Etc.

Anonymous said...

maybe right said fred was too sexy for his kit and you gave him a look of disapproval.

wishiwasmerckx said...

Don't cross the paths!

Egon Spengler: There's something very important I forgot to tell you.
Peter Venkman: What?
Egon Spengler: Don't cross the paths.
Peter Venkman: Why?
Egon Spengler: It would be bad.
Peter Venkman: I'm fuzzy on the whole good/bad thing. What do you mean, "bad"?
Egon Spengler: Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously, and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.
Ray Stantz: [shocked gasp] Total protonic reversal.
Peter Venkman: Right. That's bad. Okay. All right. Important safety tip. Thanks, Egon.

Clem McCarthy said...

A left and a right, and Schmeling is down.

Dooth said...

I would've asked Angry Fred, "whatbloodpressureyourunning?"

Pathetic Old Cyclist said...

Good thing he didnt run ya into a deetch.

Some guy from upstate said...

Well, if it had come to blows you could probably rest assured he possessed the fighting skills demonstrated in the first video.

Anonymous said...

--To take a nap;
--To take a quiet, peaceful dump;
--To go for a ride.

With insufficient time to do more than one of those properly, I went with the last one.

Meh. With a little bit of effort and practice, you should be able to do at least two of these at the same time (points are higher for some combos).

Anonymous said...

If this is what riding has come to, threats or actual exchange of air-punches and bitch slaps, it makes me glad for the first time that I am not exactly climber physique (6'2" and 200 lbs in a good week). Although, more frequent boxing interludes might make les grande tours more interesting, and provide some pro team opportunities for clydesdales.

bad boy of the south said...

Oh, I have to learn additional lingo.

bad boy of the south said...

Wildcat, good read in outside

Anonymous said...

I'd love to avoid the GWB / 9W thing. Unfortunately, I live in Westchester and work in Rockland County, and they're taking their jolly time installing the new bike path on the new TZB. So... either I have to brave crazy Freds on the GWB, or I have to pray to the God of the Bus that they come (sort of) on time and actually stop for me, so I can get across the Hudson River.

BTW, I've met my share of crazy Freds on the Greenway and GWB. I now evaluate other riders I see on a "Fred Scale" of 1-5. You get points on the Fred Scale for things like: road bike, carbon bike, spandex, matching jersey, water bottle in your spandex, lack of backpack, lack of rack, etc. Anyone with a Fred Rating of 4 or 5, I take a mental note, this guy could be trouble.

Usually they try to draft without asking. Once, an angry Fred ripped the mitten off my left hand while I was using it to signal (after he'd run a stop sign to get to my mitten). Another angry Fred once tried to rip the headlight off my bike, while BOTH of us were moving. And Finally, there's the Fred who just HAD to pass me at the narrowest point of the GWB, mutter "get a REAL bike" as he passed. He got a REAL kick in the a**.

Unknown said...

What I've found is that people get upset when they're surprised. For instance, some oblivious pedestrian is walking across the street, not paying attention to anything, when you come zipping past him on your bike. He didn't know you were coming because he's a clueless dip who forgot to use his eyes and brain, so he yells "Hey! Watch where you're going! You almost hit me!!" And your response, if you're honest and don't mind antagonizing him, is "Of course I was watching where I was going! That's why I DIDN'T hit you!" They usually don't like that response.
The only thing I can determine is that their pea-size brain finally figured out life is random and they can die at anytime, so they take it out on you for pointing this out to them. They rail at the loss of control over their life. That guy that screamed at you probably didn't see you coming, so when you passed close, it unnerved him. Fuck 'em. Ignore and move on.

Ratso Rizzo said...

Skelter @ 11:51 "...some oblivious pedestrian is walking across the street, not paying attention to anything..."

At intersections I constantly encounter pedestrians stepping off the curb while talking on a cell phone. Sometimes their so oblivious that they've walked off the curb with the walk indicator on solid red. And for some strange reason they get upset at a bike going by.

Must be "Midnight Cowboy" syndrome “Hey, I'm walkin' here!".

caleb heidebrecht said...

I rode in the NYC century yesterday and it was awesome overall. I don't usually ride with others though and although I am more emotionally practiced at dealing diplomatically with pedestrians and cars, I was rather surprised at the dick-level of other riders. I guess it's in all of us everywhere.