I am a great fan of the bike. I have a bike. It lives in my shed and has flat tyres and never goes out. It’s a sit up and beg bike that I bought when my sister bought a hugely expensive mountain bike and all the gear because she was going to take up serious cross country cycling and offered to come out with me.
We went cycling once together before she refused to go again. She refused on the grounds that it was too frightening to see the expressions of terror on the faces of those who had to dodge my unregulated progress. Her bike languished in the garden and finally expired. Lamenting it’s demise she asked me to give her mine. I refused on principle.
My son is a great fan of the bike too. He loves bikes so much that not even getting knocked off his bike deterred him. The driver came out of a side turning without stopping or indicating and ploughed straight into my son who was catapulted across Chiswick High Road and landed on the bonnet of an oncoming car. (Hurrah I say!. It was on the car and not under it.) He broke his shoulder in three places and had to call for his own ambulance because no one else did.
I am also a great fan of my son and support his choice to cycle. Like sex, I’d just prefer not to know about it. I do know he’s properly attired when he cycles though. A few weeks ago he drew up short in front of me in Clapham High Street shouting “Mother”. Me and the creature resembling a large ant, tottered to the pavement, him in his clip on shoes and lycra, me with my Waitrose bags.
I would also venture to suggest that my son is a fan of mine. While he can recite my shortcomings he’s reasonably attached to me, and after a drink or two has been known to express his hope that I should live a long life, though he fears that I might meet my end under the wheels of a bike that I didn’t see coming.
His fears were nearly realised in Esher recently, when I did get hit by a cyclist as I was crossing the road at the green man. It was my right of way. The offender, for that’s what he was, lobbed a few four letter words my way then cycled off and as the traffic flowed once more, I picked myself up and stood in the road with cars brushing past. I had to wait for the lights to change again before the traffic stopped and I could go on my way.
They say that a little bit of fear every day is a good thing and helps you to know that you are alive. Navigating your right of way across a road, or your way down the pavement where cyclists loom is a bit like playing street fighter, which gets the cortisol levels racing.
Viva the rise of pedal power, but spare a thought for those of us too old to have worn lycra and those of us who have never seen a lycra clad cyclist up close and personal unless we are related to them or until it is too late.