Good afternoon, recumbent friends.
   The bitterest of bitter ends
Has brought us here to mourn poor Benny Crank,
   Whom we have known for months or years.
   I see some faces damp with tears,
But others look confused, bewildered, blank.

   So... I've been asked to give this speech;
   Though I won't moralize or preach,
I'll try to help you understand the facts.
   Folks, bad things happen or befall
   Both good and bad folks, one and all;
No one's immune to careless, pointless acts.

   Although the tale of Ben's demise
   Has not been heard by all you guys,
You've almost surely heard its like before;
   The setting's one that you all know,
   The characters, the plot's odd flow –
I'll tell it briefly, trying not to bore...

   Now, I'll acknowledge at the start
   That Benny's conduct played a part
In what took place that tragic afternoon
   While he climbed up Potrero Road,
   Where all of us have slaved and slowed,
And sweated in the muggy heat of June.

   You've all seen Ben ascending hills;
   The motion pictures look like stills.
Poor Ben was not the fastest up a climb.
   Potrero Road is really tough,
   Too narrow, pavement cracked and rough,
It's not a route you'd pick for making time.

   We all have shared poor Benny's plight:
   A car whose driver's impolite
Roars up behind a bike, then has to slow.
   The lane's too narrow to get by,
   Too many curves to safely try
To cross the center line; the car can't go.

   The driver's in a frenzied state,
   Upset, already running late,
He needs to get around this fat old guy.
   The cyclist's pace was very slow;
   The driver's top about to blow,
He honked and got a gesture in reply.

   One middle finger briefly waved
   By one who never should have braved
Defiance of the road's unwritten rules
   Became a trigger to remind
   The waving cyclist that his kind
Are merely unprotected, fragile fools.

   This drama's focus, center stage,
   Was now the driver's seething rage;
He revved his engine hard and dropped the clutch!
   Hot tempered, angry, in a snit,
   He'd teach that arrogant old twit
Some things about road etiquette and such.

   Huge tires were smoking, squealing loud;
   The cyclist stubborn, head unbowed,
Maintained his line and didn't give an inch.
   The car was flopping side to side,
   Zigzagging as its driver tried
To keep control; the cyclist didn't flinch.

   The distance narrowed till at last
   The lurching SUV slid past,
By luck and sheer, dumb happenstance, I guess,
   The length of one unsmoked cigar,
   Between the bike and killer car,
So close the biker bobbled in distress.

   The driver felt his road hog swerve,
   As in a tight, off-camber curve
The behemoth got sideways in a slide.
   A pothole grabbed the car's rear wheel,
   Then with the sound of crunching steel,
Ben's SUV rolled over on its side.

   It left the pavement, rolling still,
   Straight off the ledge and down the hill.
It banged and rattled down the rocky ground,
   Too steep to stop it, lacking brush
   To slow its fatal, headlong rush.
Ben's bane smashed up and burned on barren ground.

   It's tragic how poor Ben was killed,
   His life unfinished, unfulfilled,
A victim of his own dark vengeful rage.
   How does a cyclist off his bike
   Become someone that we don't like
To see outside a sturdy steel-barred cage?

   While dodging cars or some big bus
   A simplified 'Them versus Us'
Mentality is tempting to adopt.
   But there are days when we are they,
   As cyclists need to make their way
At speed with travel times severely chopped.

   Now some of you may be annoyed;
   I said up front that I'd avoid
A moral lesson in this tale you've heard...
   But I've misled you, I'm afraid,
   And there's a point that must be made,
Which isn't: Don't flip guys in cars the bird.

   Please learn from Benny's bad mistake,
   Remembering, for goodness sake,
To share the road with cyclists when you drive.
   Please exercise restraint and tact,
   Avoiding conflict or impact,
So you and nearby cyclists all survive.

   That's it; I've made my little speech.
   To all within my voice's reach,
If moralistic tales you can't abide,
   I should apologize, but don't,
   With one last comment, nonchalant,
About not preaching to you, guys... I lied.

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Last updated 2.1.2009