Blood was all over the fallen rider and all over the street. The bike was twisted like a pretzel. One cyclist was down and out of the ride, but getting up quickly with one arm bent backwards at the elbow joint. He made no sound. He was in shock. He was embarrassed. Joanna saw his anguished face and quickly looked away from the injury. She swallowed hard to keep from throwing up. She then walked over to the rider and yanked the arm back into the socket. No one else had the guts to help the poor guy. He insisted they all keep going. Her group had only started the ride 10 minutes ago. Feeling a little queasy, Joanna made her way back to her bike. She couldn’t help but wonder to herself, was this all a huge mistake or would they be looking back and laughing at this trip later?
After obeying the traffic rules, starting and stopping countless times under the city’s street lights, they finally transitioned their journey away from the bustling city and into the peaceful, beautiful, rolling hills of the North Texas country roads.
It was an awesome and sunny, 90-degree summer day. However, after cycling for an hour, Joanna found herself still patiently pedaling her bike but beginning to lag behind with the weaker riders, namely Diane and Floyd. It was the right thing to do. Her close friends from the swim team, their sole goal for the 50-mile ride from Big Dallas was to visit a sleepy country town famous for the Ponder Steakhouse.
Diane and Floyd were in great swim shape, but not so much in cycling shape. The other 40 or so riders, mostly alpha-male thirty-somethings, had gone on ahead and left Joanna, Diane, and Floyd to fend for themselves alone. They had been out of sight for some time now, but not out of mind of the three slower riders. “What is the hurry, anyway?” they said to each other. At 2 hours and 50 minutes into the ride, the lagging group hit mile 38. The rolling landscape made for a peaceful ride, and the slight breeze made it all the more enjoyable. No worries, no hurry. Heck, the steakhouse didn’t even open until 4:30 pm.
Suddenly, and for no apparent reason, a lunatic driver traveling at least 75-miles per hour, angrily laid on his horn and proceeded to crowd the girls off the two lane paved road and into the gravel. Joanna, who was a few yards ahead, upon hearing the horn looked back and witnessed it all happen. He could have easily killed them.
As was usual in these type situations, adrenaline instantly coursed into Joanna’s blood vessels, her temper burned, and her hearing faded. She knew all of these signs about herself and what normally happened next. As always, she was just as helpless to stop it. As the car passed her, Joanna settled firmly into her saddle, took both hands away from her handle bars, and signaled to the car that they were number one in her opinion with both hands, double daring them to stop.
It worked. The mean driver was observing the mayhem he had caused in his rear view mirror and smiling ear to ear. Seeing Joanna’s double (middle finger) salute, he slammed on the brakes, shifted the car into reverse, and backed his car toward them at an irresponsibly fast speed. Joanna jumped off of her bike, realizing that the driver intended to run her down, along with her bike, if she did not toss it into the gravel and get herself out-of-the-way.
She was exactly right about the driver’s every intention to hurt her. As she side stepped, the car flew past, missing her by an eyelash.
The driver’s car screeched to another quick stop, shifted back into drive, and pulled up next to Joanna, the shifter grinding into park. Joanna, adrenaline and temper really hitting high, now became consumed with teaching this bully a lesson. She instinctively ripped open his unlocked car door, reaching inside to grab a hold of his hair and pull him out into the road. As she grabbed, she realized immediately that he had a military-style cut and thus, no hair to get a hold of. On top of that, his seat belt was buckled, AND there was a baby in the back seat. The driver’s wife was in the passenger seat screaming her head off, “Stop it, both of you. STOP!” Her voice had an irritating, high-pitched, eardrum-bursting quality to it.
“What the heck!!!” Joanna thought, but was still not thinking clearly at this point. She was still really angry and deep into that mental red zone. She stayed busy rabbit punching the guy with her left fist and trying to unbuckle his seat belt with her other hand. She knew it was wrong but she intended to get him out of the car no matter what it took. The driver thought of himself as pretty crazy, but this maniac now attacking him made him look like a kitten. Although a bit surprised by this reality, the driver was a fairly quick thinker. He yanked the shifter down, back into drive and squealed away. Joanna, with her bobcat-like reflexes, pushed back on the car with all her strength to get far enough away so that the left rear tire of his car would not roll over her ankle, foot or toes.
Joanna, still fuming, thought, “I guess this bully is gettin’ out while the gettin’ is good.” Simultaneous to this thought, Diane and Floyd had righted themselves up from the fields next to the road and were rolling up, yelling loudly, “What the heck just happened?!” The girls were a mess, picking grass out of their teeth, hair, ears, butts, and checking themselves for damage. Diane said, “Dang, my compact mirror got cracked.”
The incident had only lasted a minute, but to Joanna, it seemed to have happened in slow motion. Shock tried to set in, and Diane and Floyd both became silent. They all looked at each other and took a couple deep, calming breaths, trying to process and make sense of what had just happened. At that very instant though, the car that had squealed away stopped again, this time about 200 feet ahead. Apparently, things were just getting started.
There were no cell phones back then to call for help, and Diane and Floyd’s eyes became as big as saucers. Joanna’s brain, however, smoothly shifted back into survival mode. She secretly began to smile inside. The bigger they are, the harder they fall. The driver was 6’5”, 260 lbs., an early twenty-something, wanna-be country cowboy, George Jones-listening, line dancing, boot scoot-in boogie-in, sorry SOB. As he emerged from the car he kept coming, coming, and coming—up out of the car. He was huge!
Once finally out of the car, he turned toward them, let out an Indian war cry, and began sprinting toward Joanna, screaming “Die”!!!!.
Final Act 2
Joanna thought, “Okay, after I beat him, then people can’t say I was picking on someone smaller than me.” The assailant must have figured Joanna was a boy, as she was tan, muscle toned (in a nice way), had a short hairstyle for the Texas summer, aviator sunglasses, and was wearing a Life is Good biking cap. She had missed her last lip zip appointment, too.
So, Joanna smoothly tossed her glasses over beside her bike, turned her cap backwards to see better, smiled slightly and rushed to meet him halfway. As they collided, there were only 3 spectators viewing the confrontation at this point: Diane, Floyd, and the driver’s wife. The bully’s wife came out of the car toward them, still screaming in that irritating high pitch. Joanna could see her approach in her peripheral vision. She came down the embankment, making straight for Joanna and her husband, who were now off the road and struggling in the grass and gravel with Joanna on top and gaining control. Joanna readied herself for her, but Diane, seeing the situation unfold, distracted the wife from kicking Joanna in the temple with her pointed cowgirl boots. Joanna also was pretty sure she caught a glimpse of Floyd up by the car, checking on the baby that had been left inside the car in its car seat. Joanna thought “Floyd, bless her heart”. Then she saw Floyd draw back quickly, holding her finger and whining, “She bit me! What is it with this family?”
When the two combatants (real “idiots”) came to a stop at the bottom of the rain ditch, Joanna squeezed her legs tighter and held on as the bully squirmed and wriggled but failed to buck Joanna off. Joanna kept one eye on the wife’s pointy shoes and proceeded to punch and rough up the man pretty good. She was treating the driver like she used to treat her older, bigger brother and his friends when they picked on her as a young kid. She was having a flashback, and was helpless to stop feeding her ravenous revenge.
Joanna knew she was in control with her position on top of this guy. He was gassed. But, she caught herself. She was remembering the baby in the car, and at least partially snapped herself out of her red zone state of mind.
Joanna leaped off of the bully, thinking she had made her point and the altercation was over. She pranced away quickly, making her way back up the road and to her group. Unbeknownst to Joanna, the bully had also risen to his feet and was now stalking her up to the road. At that split second, she felt him bearing down on her and turned to face him just in the nick of time. She flipped him over onto his back, using the bully’s own momentum, and they ended up in a similar position to what they had been in on the other side of the road. This time, though, he twisted violently onto his stomach. Not missing even one beat, Joanna simply put the man into a sleeper hold. She intertwined her legs into his and gently squeezed his windpipe, letting him know she had him. Then she let him breathe a little, while at the same time calmly but firmly whispering into his ear that she would let him up one more time, but after that she would not show mercy a third time.
Joanna kept thinking, there is a BABY in the car! My Gosh! When will this ever end? I can’t believe they hate cyclists this much. The driver relaxed, and she let him up for a second time. Joanna cautiously back-pedaled up the road, this time not taking her eyes off of him. The driver made his way up the hill, onto the road, and was still spitting and cursing, feeling humiliated. He leaned forward a little toward Joanna, their gazes met, but the bully thought better of it, and instead, veered off in the direction of Joanna’s bike. He kicked it on down the embankment with his new fancy urban alligator skin cowboy boots. He hid the pain of his broken foot. But Joanna knew. She was entirely focused on his every move and expression however slight.
Joanna breathed in and said loudly and reluctantly, “You kick my bike, then I will KICK your car.” She started toward his car, intending to kick a huge dent into the side panel, when Diane stepped in and grabbed her around the waist, trying to hold her back. Joanna really secretly did not want to kick the car; the baby was in there. She yelled “let me GO” but then relented to Diane, but made it look to the driver and anyone else watching by then that he was very lucky Diane had intervened.
Joanna then looked around her for the first time since the altercation began and realized that there were at least twenty cars backed up on both sides of the road, parked, with their respective drivers outside watching the show. Even the cows in the field stopped eating and were watching in udder disbelief. One of the drivers closest to the action was still sitting in his car. He honked his horn and said, “Hey! I need to get through. I gotta get goin’.” Joanna turned and gave the hurried driver a stare and he quickly added, “…OR NOT. It’s fine. Finish up, take your time. I’m good, no problem!” He sheepishly smiled, waving his open hand. “Really, take your time”, he reiterated.
Finally, the driver and his wife got into their car and slowly drove off. The spectators grabbed their hats, returned to their vehicles and drove off as well. The fight was over and the girls had just wasted another 10 minutes of ride time. Joanna, Diane, and Floyd got back on their bikes and started toward Ponder once again.
They slowly meandered the rest of the 12 miles to Ponder, talking about what had happened, and mused if it really had happened. Was it all just an Alfred Hitchcock, Twilight Zone dream? Diane kept saying over and over again how she couldn’t believe what had just happened. Joanna kept swearing under her breath and shaking her head. Floyd kept saying how cute the baby was and how it never did cry, even once. Joanna asked Floyd sarcastically if she changed the baby’s diaper, too.
When they pulled into the town, Joanna had a torn bike jersey, a few bruises and scratches, her bike was surprisingly unharmed, and everyone asked what had happened. “Where have you guys been?” they asked. Joanna quipped, “You should see the other guy.” Then Diane and Floyd proceeded to tell the story and all the other riders listened, some skeptical, some in horror, some laughing, some jealous, some in disbelief, and some in total astonishment.
Joanna sat there and listened to Diane and Floyd embellish the story, as if it was not already pretty good just the way it happened. Diane claimed the driver drove a big red Ford 250 Diesel pickup truck. It was actually a cranberry colored Pontiac 2-door coupe. Floyd claimed the driver was 300 pounds and 6’10”. Joanna rolled her eyes, sighed, took another bite of her hot medium rare delicious rib eye steak, and grinned. “I gotta write this one down” she pondered.
Story Teller—Carl Dunlap—
See: www.zonehealthcoach.com/carldunlap……….it is about slower aging, better athletic performance and the best nutrition strategies.