Monday, August 8, 2011

The Michigan Bike Boys

{Guest Post by Joshua}

There are not many things that annoy me, but one thing that does is bad drivers. What really irritates me is people doing stupid things intentionally to inconvenience or annoy others while driving. First off, you are operating a machine that weighs a lot and can do serious damage if your childish antics get out of hand and you lose control. Such a situation happened on our trip to pick Luke up from South Carolina, but it didn’t really bother me…well, maybe for a minute. Let me explain.

We left our house at 5:15 am last Saturday with a full tank of gas. We were driving straight thru to my parents, planning to stop 2 times for gas, snacks and to use the restroom…all at the same stop. Our first stop was in Forrest City, AR, just before we crossed the state line into Tennessee. We stopped to fill up, used the restroom and grab a drink and some chips, and were back on the road in less than 15 minutes. Couldn’t have planned it better. This is where the story gets interesting.

Soon after we were back on the road, I passed a car. Now, we don’t pay close attention to every car we pass, but for some reason we both noticed this car. There was nothing particular about the car that screamed “look at me…notice me…remember me”, but we did. It was a black Chevy Cavalier with 2 bikes harnessed to the back. As we passed it, we noticed the car had Michigan plates. Amanda glanced in as we passed and saw 2 college aged guys.

We got around them and continued on our merry way, not offering a second thought about them…until several minutes later when I look in my rearview mirror and see a car coming up rather quickly behind us. Since I was in the passing lane, I did the considerate thing and merged into the right lane to allow them to pass. But they didn’t pass us. They got over behind us. I opened my mouth to voice my displeasure when Amanda chimed in “is that the Michigan bike boys?” I hadn’t even realized it, but it was. I had a notion to slow down to a snails pace to force them to pass me, but I thought better of it. After all, we were on a major interstate highway in the middle of the day. This would not have been smart. Instead, I choose to do something much more sensible. I gunned my 5.7 V8 Hemi and let every single one of the 390 horses under the hood of my Dodge truck run! We got up to about 95 before I let off. This put a good distance between us and those Michigan dorks.

For a minute.

Here they came. “These guys are relentless”, I thought. This was going to become very annoying very quickly. I started to just exit and allow them to get far enough ahead that I wouldn’t have to worry about them, but I was determined to stay on pace. I decided to keep on going and just not even think about them.

But after many miles with them “in tow”, I started to realize they are not just following us, but they were mirroring our every move. I changed lanes. They changed lanes. I signaled. They signaled. I didn’t signal. They didn’t signal.

Now, I’ve seen my share of horror movies, but never once did it occur to me that these guys were trying to scare us. I mean, Amanda had made eye contact with one of them. I finally decided it was just 2 college guys doing what college guys do. They were making the best of a long, boring road trip.

So I decided to entertain them. I started changing lanes just to do it. There were times there were no cars in sight in front or behind, and I would change lanes just so they would have to. We began talking about these guys and referring to them as “the Michigan Bike Boys”. I found myself checking my mirror to make sure they were still behind us as if they were a ship out on the sea in a storm and I was the lighthouse guiding them to safety.

At one point, after we had gone through Nashville, a horrible thought entered our minds. These guys are going to have to stop for gas soon. I had plenty of gas. If you remember, we first met our friends just after filling our tank.

Or did we?

Some time, after this eventful journey, I considered that we may have passed these guys earlier in the day, unbeknownst to us. They may have seen us long before we first saw them.

I thought about slowing down to ask how they were on gas. It would have done no good. They’d have slowed down too. So I kept on going. Only now I was paying much more close attention to the little black Cavalier behind us, ensuring we did not get too far ahead. At one point, we ran into some pretty heavy rain. We were nearing Knoxville, so we were already beginning our leg of the trip into the mountains. I knew I would have to pay extra careful attention to the road, so I would not be able to watch the MBB’s and ensure they were still behind us. Amanda had to take over as Official Michigan Bike Boy Spotter. She did a wonderful job, and at one point, as we cleared the edge of the storm, she informed me, in a rather frantic way, that a truck had cut them off. I slowed to a crawl, considering turning on my hazard lights, and allowed them to catch up. We were not going to lose them after all we had been through together.

As we neared Knoxville, we were approaching the 40/75 split. I merged into the lane to split onto 40 and our friends stayed in the lane to split onto 75. We were continuing on towards our destination. They were going home. I looked in the mirror and could see the driver look at his passenger, put his index fingers together and draw an imaginary “V” indicating that we were going to separate at the split. Amanda had turned all the way around in her seat and was pleading with the car “get over, get over”. I told her this is where our journey “together” comes to an end.

As we hit the split, I did the only thing I could do in our situation. I slowed practically to a stop, rolled down my window and waved. Waved at 2 complete strangers. Strangers that had been behind us through rain and shine…for 437 miles…that we know of.

And they waved back.

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