One of the most maddening sights in the countryside, especially in the summertime and an area with very few pavements or little street lighting, is that of the meandering cyclist, wobble and worrying at the edge of the road, not wearing a helmet.
Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against cyclists, as such, although I do think they should have their own roads.
In fact, I have a group of friends who go out cycling together, they ride for thirty-something miles, stopping off at various local pubs, having a little drink at each and then setting off again.
This I have time for.
They wear a lot of Lycra. Not my milieu, but each of them has the physique for it, and they wear crash helmets.
As a motorist, the type of cyclist that really drives me to distraction is the one who dusts off the bike once a year, and then zigzags across the road without any thought of protective gear.
As for these, I do wonder why anyone should give a thought for their safety when they so patently don’t. And yet, like everybody else, I get very tense when I see these not-really cyclists. I take little pleasure in the idea that I probably riddle them with bottom-related complexes as I give them the widest possible berth.
A chap I know was out for a bike ride on Wednesday. He was all cycle shorts and super-reflective sunglasses. I was ambling thickly with Poppy.
We’re not really friends. I think we would be but he will insist on telling me which part of him is chafing.
He’s been working on his fitness. I told him he was looking thin, he needed a lasagne. He agreed as to the firmness of his stomach, but stated that he was massive through his shoulders, “and here, of course,” he smiled, grabbing his crotch.
There’s something very abnormal about that. If we gloss over the obvious disrespect – standing over a bicycle in the street, crotch-grabbing to a confirmed lesbian, it strikes me there’s something rather desperate in that sort of statement.
Certainly, I should feel sorry for him.
As it happens, I think he’s a pillock.
Poppy barked at him and she’s a good judge of character, so we left.
Right up there with the helmet-free, seasonal bicycle enthusiastics, are the lifers. Those who ride their bicycles whatever the weather, probably going for a record of some sort, who wave drivers on.
Where I live, there are many narrow and winding roads, sporadic pavements and very deep gutters. As such, it’s often not possible to overtake a cyclist. This goes for the horse riders too. Quite often, they ride in brace. I suspect it takes quite an effort for them to right themselves, and ride behind one another. However, once they’re in position and riding bike or horse in a line, usually one of them will wave to indicate it is safe for the motorist to overtake them.
They must assume every car is a Bugatti Veyron. There’s no way anything but a sports car could get past them quickly enough to not hit the almost-inevitable tractor coming the other way.
I don’t think my car is even made in this hemisphere. Parts, when necessary, are generic. My car does 0-60 in about twelve minutes. There have been times without number I have been waved on, only to find myself braking suddenly to avoid getting wedged in the grill of a Land Rover.
One of our chaps used to get dropped at the Club by his wife on a lunchtime. He enjoyed pool, and a drink. Sometimes, a big drink. Like most of us, he repeated himself and called for some member of staff or other to be fired, when he’d had a drink. Usually, it was me.
One lunchtime, this fella came up, had a couple of pints and played some pool with a couple of friends of mine. Two o’clock came very quickly, and his wife appeared on the dot. He wasn’t really ready to go home yet, so the people he was playing pool with said that they would drop him in town when they’d finished their game. When they left, they dropped him in town, as agreed, and he wandered over to the pub. He didn’t get home until after supper.
His wife got him a bicycle. As far as I can recall, he only rode it once. He arrived, purple-faced at the Club, panting from his exertions, and had a few pints. I think he was too puffed to play pool that day. When it came to closing time, one of the other chaps loaded the bike into his back seat and drove him home. Exercise has its place, but cycling home three miles on a narrow, winding road, even covered in protective equipment, felt like a high price for an afternoon drink.
But I digress… often. Anyway, one of the finest moments in my life..
I was driving, having drunk an obscene amount of coffee, windows wound down, barbecue sauce on my chin, smoking a cigarette and singing Gloria Estefan at the top of my voice. I stopped at the traffic lights in town, and there was a man on a bicycle, standing one foot on the road, barely contained within his Lycra cocoon, sweat dripping down his face, panting like a deadman. He looked over to me and scrunched up his face.
It was almost a chant, he muttered, “Healthy, I’m, I’m being healthy, I’m be..”
I’ve never heard anyone cough like that in my life.