There has been a lovely bit of weather in London recently hasn’t there? In fact it feels like the first bit of sunshine we have had in years. Hooray!
Of course, this has meant all the fair weather cyclists have taken to the streets in their work clothes and unsuitable footwear.
I am a fair weather cyclist myself and proud of it. Frankly, what masochists want to cycle in the freezing cold or pouring rain?
I am forever getting overtaken by sweaty men in luminous cycling shorts gritting their teeth and grunting as they whizz past me, clearly in great pain. What is the point of cycling so fast you hate every moment? And why do they always jump red lights? And why is it that us fair weather cyclists get the blame for their poor road skills?
I cycle in fair weather because it’s nicer than then tube and more fulfilling than a spin class and it saves me £4.20 a day on tube fare. I am very careful, which often makes me slow, and if a section of road is too tricky I get off my bike and walk in order to save my life. If this makes me the most hated women on London’s streets, so be it.
I enjoy my daily cycle commute but these ‘all-weather’ cyclists look even more miserable than tube passengers and are a rather strange bunch.
The first all-weather cyclist to overtake me today yelled ‘HELLO’ right in my ear which startled me so much I almost swerved into the kerb. Was he warning me he was there? Is this a normal way to greet a fellow cyclist? Do comment and enlighten me.
The second all-weather cyclist to shout at me today was approaching a junction to turn right. I was approaching the same junction to turn left. I thought the fact I was breaking hard and gingerly turning into the junction at approximately 1mph was enough to show her my intention (I haven’t quite mastered the art of taking one hand off the handlebar to indicate while steering the bike at the same time).
‘FUCKING INDICATE!’ She growled at me as she followed me into the road.
As luck would have it, she ended up behind me to my left and I was turning left again at the next junction, so I was able to pointedly extend my left arm…and my middle finger.
There is a game that all cyclists in London play. I don’t know how I know about it, I just do. If you overtake a girl on a girl’s bike you get 1 point, a boy on a girl’s bike, 2 points, a businessman on a Boris bike 3 points, a girl on a boy’s bike 4 points, a boy on a boy’s bike 5 points and if you overtake a serious cyclist kitted out in all the right gear you get 10 points, regardless of whether they are male or female.
The best part is, if you are a girl on a girl’s bike and overtake a serious cyclist you get 100 points.
It’s quite a fun game because even though I conceded at least 30 points today I still ended up with a score of 70 after overtaking a serious cyclist whose pedal flew off as we cycled up High Holborn. (That’ll teach him for peddling so fast).
Don’t get me wrong, games aside you have to be really careful when cycling in London. If you are not falling into potholes (there’s loads) or being choked by exhaust fumes then a psychopathic taxi driver is probably trying to flatten you as he overtakes you at 50 mph. Drivers will open their car doors for you to fly over, buses will swerve into the cycle paths without warning and pedestrians just act like you’re invisible and walk straight into you.
Fair weather cycling in London is fun with that slightly terrifying edge that you might die at any moment. Oh, and of course there’s the fact that everybody completely hates you.
I am a bit worried that writing this blog post is a terrible tempting of fate, and if I get knocked off my bike tomorrow it will get published in the Evening Standard and serve as a poignant warning to cyclists to always wear a helmet and a high vis vest.
If this does happen please use this photo of me:
Not this one:
But back to slagging off serious cyclists. Why is it such a serious business?
It’s like that moment when you are out clubbing and a great song comes on and some bore tries to recite the name of the DJ and the album to you and tells you there is a great bass line coming up. Who cares? I just want to dance to it.
This half marathon, Run to the Beat, is exactly the kind of exercise I am a fan of.
There is the race element for the competitive people and for people like me there are DJs playing motivational music and a big party at the end.
I am so inspired by the idea I have decided to enter, even though I am crap at running. This is what’s known as being an optimist.
If anybody wants to jog around with me let me know!