Hazards of the road the Bike Blog has known. Vicious country dogs, dudes hurling beer cans out of pickups, girls (of every race, color, and class, interestingly) hissing at me to get the fuck on the sidewalk; invisible pot-holes, shoulderless bridges, noxious bus fumes, wrong turns into drug deals-in-progress. I’ve been run off the road by buses, rear-ended in traffic, hit by a car.
But there’s one bike-plague I’ve managed to avoid – never have I ever been slapped on the ass. Apparently, that’s just because I’m a guy – this weekend, I met two women who had, on separate occasions, had been rear-ended, mano a culo.
Nora Portuondo, a legal assistant and avid biker who lives in Miami, was one of them. She was peddling merrily down Main Highway in Coconut Grove when it happened. “As I was riding along, this car slowed down,” she recalls. “There was two guys in there, and one of them – the passenger – slapped me on the ass and I fell down. . . he hit me so hard that I just lost control. I was on a racing bike with little thin tires, and when you hit gravel they don’t really grip the ground well.”
Ass-slapping – entertaining though the topic may be – is, of course, horribly, horribly dangerous when the ass getting slapped is on a bicycle and the hand slapping it is doing twenty or thirty mph. It’s more like getting ass-hammered, really: “I was really angry, because if I had fallen the other way, they would have run me over,” says Portuondo.
“But honestly, that happens a lot to people down here,” she adds. In fact, no sooner had she begun telling the story when, lo and behold, another woman, who happened to be standing within earshot, piped in. Tia Williams, whom the Bike Blog pathetically failed to get on the telephone, had the same thing happen to her.
Here’s the sad part: Portuondo hardly ever bikes alone anymore; when she does, she rides against traffic, or just bikes on the sidewalk – “It’s no fun,” she admits. Every woman she knows gets harassed – and in a way that guys on bikes don’t. “That’s why most women don’t’ like to ride by themselves,” she says. “I happens to a lot of us.”
And that’s fucked up. Maybe women should counter-attack: next time a car is mean, give it a playful little slap, you know? Right on the side-mirror, with a U-lock. Or maybe the tail-light would be more appropriate – and get the license plate number, while you’re at it.
Any thoughts on this matter? Have YOU been slapped on the ass? Let us know. --Isaiah Thompson
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