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Breaker Breaker...there's a dog on the road


Maximum Pace
Sep 24, 2007
I was on my way home from a short ride today hurling down Doushi michi (R413) into a slight headwind pumping out 40km/h, when a dump truck came up from behind. With traffic quite heavy in the other direction and in fear of my own safety I pulled out from the side, probably about half a meter from the white line to stop him from sneaking past and probably killing me. There is absolutely no shoulder on this strectch of the road making it quite dangerous. I always move close to the white line once the traffic is clear from the opposite direction and allow them to pass.

Today the driver tapped his air brakes a few times, always an indicator of growing frustration. To make matters worse he was sitting right on my back wheel making me rather nervous. With the traffic relentless for a few minutes he decided to blow his horn. Before I go on I must reiterate that I was doing 40km/h in a 50km/h speed zone, not that slow anyway, right:confused:

Now fellow roadies, I'd like you to imagine for a moment it was you in this situation and choose the option from below that best sums up what you'd do.

A. Move over and let him pass, making yourself as small as possible and pray to the cycling Gods he doesn't hit you
B. Ignore him and hold your line
C. Flip him the bird and keep your line
D. Look around, gesture at your hopelsess situation and try to calm him down

So which one did you choose? I tried my best to hide my reaction in those options, but I'm sure you guessed it anyways, C. What stupidity you say, messing with a 30 ton Dump Truck? And of course you're right.

Finally when there was a break in the oncoming traffic he passed, tried to put me into the gutter and then tapped his brakes a few times hoping that I'd get the message, if not almost run into the back of him. Adrenaline pumping I got in his slip stream and was ready to fight the guy, but alas my legs gave out when I hit speeds over 60km/h....and he slowly but surely creapt away.

In hindsight of course option D would probably have been the best one, but at the time I was seriously giving it some stick and adrenaline was flowing through my veins.

Without whinging too much (Philip recently stated that I complain more than a Pommy, Crikey!) I can understand why he was frustrated. They are working and probably on a clock. The more loads they take the more money they earn I guess. But IMO they are somewhat selfish, no? How often do they hold up traffic going up inclines? Always, and do they EVER pull over and let traffic pass? NEVER! So today, I say go to HELL Mr. Dump Truck driver on R413 today. I hope we meet again because next time as long as I survive your inital onslaught of 30 tons your in big trouble. I'm gonna chase you down and it's gonna be on. Let's see how much of a man you are out of your big toy!

Oh and the title of the post your asking? Well just after our little incident I saw a few other DT drivers using their CB's and I'm certain they were talking about me....my nickname is actually Sly Dog (my surname is in there somewhere) as I got quite a few looks of disgust from them. Ah what fun it can be out on the bike. Take care guys, it's dangerous out there.

p.s. let me know which option you chose, it might help me from being squshed like frog in the future!
When it comes to trucks I err on the side of caution, these guys are professionals and as you say run on the clock and are actually very considerate.

Depending on road conditions I would normally do D followed by A. comunicating with truckies is good as they can get the message good or bad very quickly.
A or D. Yeah as a former truck and bus driver I will pull up and stop to give them the chance to get away. Communication is the key and a friendly wave after they pass you is also much appreciated by drivers, seriously most truckers are extremely good at passing.
That said, I was squeezed into the gutter by a wanker driver on wet misty evening after he had to slow down to about 5kmph below the limit for about 30 seconds. At the next lights he was stopped behind some cars and as I rode past his drivers door he starts yelling at me, fock this I thought, so cutting across to the left I ripped his drivers side wiper blade down and out, permanently!

Did I mention it was lightly raining?
Ride safe!
I don't know what option I'd pick as when I hear a rude horn blow, I lose my cool and ability to think rationally....
The horn scares the clap out of me and is more likely to make me fall off...

I'd be inclined to throw my drink bottle over my shoulder towards his windshield...

But the blast of the horn always gets you off guard.....
I'd love to have an electronic super blaster air horn attached to my bike....

I got blasted by a guy in a car with an air horn in August (in Aus) and I tried to catch him at the next red light...for both our sakes he got away. He did it for the pure joy of scaring the shit out of cyclists...
Mike Dog? No wonder you kept that quiet.

When I am training hard (swim, bike or run) my stress levels are higher and I am much more likely to over react to any situation. If I find myself getting aggravated it's a sign I need to relax.

That suggests to me that C should never be an option.

However, if you do want revenge you should call the lycra clad avenger who strikes fear into the hearts of truck drivers throughout Japan. At first I did not believe the stories but one day Deej and I saw him in action. Nobody knows who he really is but some people call him Ludwig.
A or B depending.
And I often turn and growl or hiss (like a big cat would, or one of those Avatar people) at them too for good measure ... and because I'm weird.
Living in rural Japan, I rarely have to deal with traffic but when I do I try to control the situation.

Looking back is definitely a good idea. Let them know that they are not dealing with someone who is oblivious to the situation. Hold your line. Despite being scarey having the vehicle behind you it's safer than it being at the side, coming in from the side or coming head on. Hand signals to ask the driver to wait are a good idea. Finally when it's safe to be passed, signal for the driver to pass.

Non of the above applies if the driver is a complete moron however, as yours may have been Mike.

A few years ago I had a run in with a pick up truck in Hawaii in a similar situation:

"Get off the road *******!"
"Get out of your fucking truck if you're so big and hard!"

He did........ and he was!

Lesson learned: take your shoes, sunglasses and helmet off first!


I would have taken an even higher line...

Pretty sure it would cost him more time and money to smear me across the road than to wait. That said as soon as possible I'd pull over (and stop) to let the driver past, he is paying his mortgage after all...
Dump trucks are definitely the worse vehicles for me, probably because they are paid per load or on a quota, as mentioned above. More than once have been passed VERY close by a dump truck going too fast. There's a group of otherwise nice roads south of Lake Takataki in Boso that are basically ruined because of a massive quarry and the constant dump truck traffic in the area.

I try to pull over if there's space, but like Mike and others taking the lane is a good idea to prevent reckless overtaking. The whole working class hero thing is fine until they start threatening your life. Besides, I spend much more time being delayed by trucks in the car than I do delaying trucks on the bike...
Mike Dog? No wonder you kept that quiet.

When I am training hard (swim, bike or run) my stress levels are higher and I am much more likely to over react to any situation. If I find myself getting aggravated it's a sign I need to relax.

That suggests to me that C should never be an option.

However, if you do want revenge you should call the lycra clad avenger who strikes fear into the hearts of truck drivers throughout Japan. At first I did not believe the stories but one day Deej and I saw him in action. Nobody knows who he really is but some people call him Ludwig.

Mike Dog? Philip you crack me up man! Thanks for all the comments and advice guys. Next time this happens I'll try to remain calm and make eye contact with the driver. Options A and D will be put into action;) Will keep you posted a to the outcome.
calm down

Mike, I've found myself in similar predicaments many times. Yes, these drivers can be extremely nasty...after all they are human too :).


Tom, unless of course it is Tokyo~Itoigawa, when you force him slow down to a speed at which when he comes past you, you can jump straight in his slipstream and hold in there for as long as possible!


Duel !

Try not to antagonise the truck drivers too much Mike!




If it's clearly not safe for them to pass I do the same as you - make sure they won't try to come past where there's not enough room. But I'd be looking for somewhere to pull in and let them by. One slip by either of two stressed people could result in you (and your spangly bike) under his wheels.
Truckers scare and bother me alot less than the soccer moms, paper drivers, taxi hacks on shabu, drayage hacks on shabu and drunk oyaji. The air brake 'tap' is a sign of respect - he could just blast the horn or the jakes. Give him the wave through when YOU feel its safe. And never give up your third of the road - thats the only safety cushion you do have if things get squeaky. I get seriously raged about some of these a**#! drivers - but you can't boogie in a body bag.
I am feeling you Mike.
Psychologically, for a driver not being able to surpass the speed limit seems to feel not as bad as being stuck behind a measly cyclist.

On a countryside road without traffic lights you might actually kill up to a minute of his time, but on city roads with a stream of red lights it really drives me mad if the guy behind me wants to pass no matter what.

Had a dump truck driver try to squeeze me on route 20 around Choufu - his front wheels passed me within centimeters and then he cut left. I was going 40+ and not taking 1/3rd of the road as I want the traffic to go fast along with me.
Had I not swerved into the far left gutter his back wheels and tail would have clipped me. Less reaction time than a car door popped open in your trajectory.

Of course at the next light we meet up and I punch his door and flip his mirror (non-permanently). When I go there is a cushion of several cars between us again. Then comes this long bridge and he pulls up along side me. No way to go, deep gutters and he has his window down and starts screaming at me. That driver was the ugliest son of a bitch and he was furiously spouting the opposite of Keigo (I wish I could speak like that). Made me realize two things, counter-action will not enlighten the subject and if I escalate things while driving it can become life-threatening for myself. So I just signal him to give me space, to pass and hold my line.

At the next gas station he pulls of the road and I realize one reason, why he is furious - I flipped his right side mirror, which he cannot pull back without leaving the truck:p

Still the next time this happens to me in the city, I would do things differently: Get the camera phone out and pull to a stop in front of him at the red light and snap his face along with the number plate to show at the next Koban along with a complaint. Anybody went with this tactic before? Would the police take this serious?
Best to avoid confrontation, but when riding, I agree its easier for reactions to get the better part of you.

No, but chances are his company would...

+1 on that.
Never called one in, but I've taken a picture of license number (and driver) and picture of company (ideally with phone number) a couple of times. Seemed to do the trick as the driver usually gives a quick bow and a "gomen" wave and drives away. For me its important to get the guy's attention and he thinks about what almost did.

BTW, I've also seen taxi drivers in Tokyo undergo a major attitude correction when hear you use the word "Taxi Center". Its apparently an all powerful clearing house where lost items and complaints get funneled, and as i understand, they can take license away. I've used the word once (as a passenger), and the change was DRAMATIC. I bet a picture, a bit of loud English followed by "hand as phone" gesture with an audible "Call taxi center" will get their attention.
I complained to Sotestu bus company a few months back regarding one driver who was a regular idiot only route 16. He is now on administration duties as this is not the first time cyclists have complained.

I carry my iPhone in my jersey pocket and I will photo the driver, the registration and the company logo of an offender and then log a complaint.

One thing I have learnt is to take a deep breath and if I catch them at lights gently rap on the window and tell them politely that they passed you too close and that it was dangerous. Im suprised how many actually appologise and make an effort to go around other cyclists further up the road.

Only this week I did this to some young scooter rider on Route 16 whom then flipped me the bird and flew of in a cloud of blue smoke. Next day same lights he pulls up beside me and oppologises not only flipping me off but for cutting me up in heavy traffic.

Goes to show going the gently-gently way can work..... although there still are some tossers that get the full force of my anger.
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