Respect covers a lot of territory. Today I'm going to narrow it down to respect for private property. This week has been the RAGBRAI bicycle tour of Iowa. It is an annual bike ride from one side of the state to the other. It has thousands of participants and covers a lot of ground. During their week-long ride they stop each night in a pre-determined location where the city has put aside some land to use for them to camp, park their support vehicles, and generally have set up many venues for their entertainment. They also have people along the routes who provide water, other forms of refreshment, food, encouragement, and support. There are volunteer families who donate yard space and house space to the bikers to camp and to use their facilities.

This is great. This would be even greater if the people who participated on these bike rides could all be respectful of the other people along their routes who may not share in their enthusism for bicycling.

A few years ago the path of the ride took them through our community, as it did this week once again. The last time, a friend of ours who lived in the country near the route was shocked upon returning home to find his yard, barn, shed – basically every nook and cranny of his farmstead – taken over by bicycles. Had he offered his home for their use? No. The weather had turned bad and the rain had caused the bikers to pull off the road and take shelter at his farm. They were everywhere. Up in the hay mow of his barn. The one that was about ready to collapse any day. The one that was unsafe for one or two people to be – suddenly was full of people! When our friend asked people to leave, they got angry at him for not being supportive of them.

He asked them, "Where do you live?"

They replied, "Why?"

He said, "Because next week I want to get fifty or a hundred of my best friends and come to your house and hang around your yard."

The person he was speaking to got angry. They just didn't get it.

This week, the ride went right past my son's house – our old house. The road was blocked off to most traffic. My son and husband were trying to haul grain out of a bin at the site. They had to fight thousands of bike riders who feel it is their right not to obey any traffic laws like stop signs, to be able to haul their grain. Trying to do their jobs.

At one point, my husband came back to find people sitting all over the yard in the shade of the trees. He also saw several men going into the corn field. When he asked them what they were doing, one man replied in a joking manner that they were just "going to fertilizer the corn". When my husband asked him where he lived and he replied a city nearby and asked why, my husband replied, "because next week I want to come to your house and fertilize your bushes".

I grew up in town. I grew up with parents who cherished their little square of grass and sidewalk as if it were the only piece of land on earth that mattered. We lived on a corner and I remember how irritated my parents would get if the kids crossed the corner on the way to school, or the newspaper boy cut across the lawn. I was told from the time I was little to stay on the sidewalks and not to go on other peoples' lawns, unless I was invited. This was not just a quirk of my parents, but the code of the neighborhood. We lived in several different neighborhoods and it was the same everywhere. No matter how ratty someone kept their yard, it was still their little piece of the earth and they didn't want your dog coming over to shit on it, or to pee on their flowers… they didn't want your kids tromping on it unless they were over to play with their kids, and you didn't mess with someone elses' stuff.

Respect. Just because we live in the country and you see the wide open spaces does not mean it is property open for public use. We may keep our large lawn mowed and looking nice and you may see a five acre piece of ground that looks like a park, but it is not a park. It is our home. It is our land. It is our field, our crop, our livlihood you're messing with when you tromp out in it to 'relieve' yourself.

Maybe if you didn't act like such assholes we wouldn't hate you so much. Respect. Earn it.*

*I realize like anything else there are some good people who ride bikes and who do obey the laws and who don't trespass. This is not meant for you.

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Middle-aged. Anti-social. Mom. Grandma. Town-raised farmer's wife. Iowan. Want more? Come read the blogs.

15 thoughts on “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.”

  1. Time to pull out the BB gun and start plinking at some biker asses, if you ask me.

    I hate strongly dislike rude people.


  2. I KNOW it isn’t just a ‘this generation’ thing, but it seems as if TOO many people these days feel entitled to anything they want–as if the world owes them. I don’t understand it. And yes, it all comes down to respect–something I don’t feel is being taught much anymore. Certainly makes it that much harder for those of us who DO teach our children to respect, doesn’t it?

  3. Oh man. That would make me so angry. I am surprised some of the RAGBRAI people act like that… but then again… I know it’s just one big party for others.

    I am disappointed to see people disrespecting other people’s things, whether or not it is their property.

  4. I couldn’t agree with you more. It’s why it irritates me to no end when our neighbors use our driveway to walk down to the sidewalk instead of their own.

    And the bike thing? I see far too many bikers on the street but blowing red lights and the like. Kinda makes it hard to feel bad when they get run over. In fact, today we had a left turn arrow and these two bikers across the way went straight and definitely had a red light. As we waited for them to go so we could turn, even though we had the right of way, the one biker must have felt threatened because as he passed by us, he called my husband an asshole and said it in a very agressive manner. I don’t get it. How is my husband an asshole when it’s this biker not following the rules of the road? People are so irritating.

  5. As a runner, who has been hit by a cyclist, I can attest to how rude they can be. It’s too bad, because some of them are really wonderful people. I think you and your neighbours need to write a letter to the organizers, to the media and the local politicians , a nice one, stating your concern and dismay over cyclists behaviour. Exactly like you did here. Be firm, but reasonable.

    Then when they decide to run the same race next year, you object loudly to your roads being closed get a bunch of people together to sign a petition send it to the organizers and whoever is in charge of the road closure for the race. Without public support they can’t do it. It’s that simple.

  6. Back when I lived in Austin (I grew up there), I wrote a letter to the editor of the Austin American Liberal regarding a story that they had regarding the right to ride. Cyclists were complaining about cars almost hitting them and stuff.

    Now, in Austin, you can imagine how snotty the riders are there, considering Armstrong and his Austin presence. Don’t get me started on Armstrong. He is a complete asshole, and most people don’t know that. That’s only because my dad had to defend someone against Armstrong regarding a cycling/car incident.

    Anyway, in the hill country, we have roads that are very curvy and hilly. There is no line of sight. The speed limit is easily 60 mph.

    So my take is the can/should policy. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. Would you rather be right or dead?

    They are all up in arms because cars almost hit them on country roads that are windy and hilly with no line of sight, and there is no shoulder. On any of our real country roads. They love to ride those roads because of the hills and the view. Whatever.

    My letter to the editor was published. It was anti-cyclists and their constant bitching and complaining. When you ride on those roads, you KNOW what you are getting into. How in the hell is a car supposed to avoid you when they can’t see and they are going 60 mph, and RIGHTLY SO? Just don’t ride on those roads. Reserve your riding to highways that have shoulders. Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

    I am not anti-cycling. But I too am tired of the entitleist attitude that cyclists have. And it all started with Armstrong. Seriously. Think about it. It really did.

    Let me tell you a little bit about Lance Armstrong.

    When he had cancer and was in the hospital, his girlfriend and fiance stood by his side every day and night. However, he left her because he fell in love with his nurse, Kristin. He ended up marrrying Kristen, and they had two children via in-vitro. She stood by his side during all his tours de france. It was really hard on her, because they lived in france half the year, and her life was all about Lance.

    When things got tough, he dumped her. Then he got famous and started making the circuit, dating the likes of Sheryl Crowe and such.

    He uses people.

    Friends of my family had lived in Volente for their whole lives. Now in the country, you don’t mess with the people that have been there their whole life. You respect them. But then along comes Armstrong, with his little crew, demanding the right to ride on those roads that I was talking about.

    Well, let’s just say he pissed off the local community, because he and his crew would take up the whole road, as if they owned it, and refused to let cars by. They would do this every single day. So, one of our friends did not handle a particular situation very well, and did something not very nice to Armstrong.

    so, off to court they go. Since they were friends of the family, my dad represented our friend, even though what he did wasn’t really right. His statement was right, but his actions were poor. And there is Lance, up on the stand, making his stupid statements about the right to ride. Trying to change the world to accommodate him.

    I have lots of stories about Lance Armstrong, and none of them are very nice. His character is quite lacking. He is a user of people, and he is self-absorbed.

    He and I are the same age, and we both grew up in the same town. His cause is noble, but his execution is piss poor. He feels entitled because he did something extraordinary. He acts and believes that he is better than everyone else, and he goes through women like we go through tampons during our period.

    So that’s how I feel about the right to ride and Lance Armstrong. And I swear, every time I see one of those stupid yellow wrist bands, I just want to choke that person and tell them “DO YOU HAVE ANY IDEA WHAT AN ASSHOLE LANCE ARMSTRONG IS???? YOU IDOLIZE A COMPLETE JERK!”

  7. I don’t have anything in particular against riders. However, some of them are arrogant, self involed ad downright rude. Just like the rest of us.

    Once my daughter was rear ended by a cyclist. He wanted to know her insurance company so he could file a claim.
    DUDE! You rear ended her. You hit a stationary object!

    This last week we had a nasty situation. There was an organized ridw of some kind, and the riders were blocking off intersections. One guy was late for an appointment, and they wouldn’t let him out on the street. Name calling and threats. He lost his temper and ran over one of the cyclists. The cyclists trashed his car and beat him up. Not a good course of action by either side.
    Cyclists need to back off of their arrogance. I will respect you if you obey the rules.

  8. I am pro-cycling when the cyclist obeys the laws. Too often I see cyclists acting like a car one minute and then a pedestrian the next. Make up your mind! On the flip side, here in the city I see too many motorists not being bike-friendly which can be really dangerous to the cyclist as well.

    When I lived in CA I coordinated a century bike fundraiser the non-profit I worked for. We would hear countless complaints from the town that the bikes rode through saying the cyclists were rude, peeing on their lawns, leaving trash in their streets. We were appalled as we set it up so there were many rest stops for them to use a restroom, eat and throw out their trash and asked them in all our materials to be courteous. It just flabbergasts me that people would be so RUDE.

  9. That’s pretty crappy. I would never think of doing either of those things. I found people along the MS-150 route in KC very respectful and appreciative of the surroundings, however, I know that many cyclists don’t yield to land owners like they should.

    The unfortunate truth is, the couple hundred cyclists that are a-holes and don’t “get it” make it dangerous for the rest. Those farmers now hate all cyclists.

    I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been screamed at, ran off the road, or had fellow cyclists killed because “the roads are for cars, I don’t have to move over (even if it’s 4 lanes)”. It’s a good thing cyclists don’t have space for guns.

  10. I do not like rude people, on a bike, in a lake, or in a car. I just don’t like them, whoever they are.

    I can say that I had some of the best riders stay at my home last year, and just loved them! But I can also say – some of our city parks were just full of trash when they left. I don’t know why people can’t hit a garbage can that is two feet away.

  11. I can go on and on about the rude behavior of bicyclists in Seattle and feeling like they “own” the road and don’t have to obey traffic laws. But, going on someone else’s private property and setting up camp? Well, that’s just beyond rude. Isn’t that trespassing?

  12. I think after the first time a group of angry landowners forcefully inserted a catheter into one of the tresspassing pee’rs word might get out to avoid that particular property in the future. Just a suggestion.

  13. Time to hook up the ol’ electric fence. That should cause some shrinkage when they go pee.

    I doubt any of them know what to look for. As long as it’s not barbed wire, they’ll think it’s harmless.

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