29 November 2009

The accidental cyclist

Lately I have given considerable thought to taking up cycling.

Now don't get me wrong, it's not that I have gone environmentally friendly or concerned about where I leave my carbon footprint, (my non-carbon footprints can normally be found on the butts of those who get up my nose).

Nor can it be said that the fluctuating price of oil that prompts service stations to raise the price 50 cents a litre when it rises slightly, and lower it 1.5 cents when it drops dramatically, has any influence on my chain of thought - basically because as I have mentioned several times on i On Global Trends, I don't drive and never have.

Oh yes - I did have driving lessons when I was seventeen but I never got on with my driving instructor and cancelled my test the day before I was supposed to take it - and no doubt fail. Why anyone would go to the bother of pressing and releasing clutches and changing gears continuously, was a concept beyond my grasp. Apart from each new Jaguar that is launched, cars are of no interest to me.

Incidentally, the other day I was drooling over a new Jaguar parked near my local shops. Shiny, sleek, beautiful curves. As I looked it over, a very attractive, smartly dressed blonde woman approached the car, got in and drove off. Nice car I thought, but the optional extras come with too many complications!

My reasoning is far simpler than all the above. It's because I reckon I would look damn good in lycra.

I can see it now, bum up in the air, my crown jewels jiggling like a ferret in a sack, looking the spitting image of a Tour De France rider - apart from the training wheels and bag of groceries precariously perched on the back.

There is another advantage to being a cyclist in Sydney. The moment you don lycra and a helmet shaped like some sort of bed pan designed by art students, you are granted the right to do what you like - and to hell with anyone else!

If you want to ride on the pavement at 50kph yelling at pedestrians to get out of the way - you go ahead mate. Fancy riding three abreast along a two lane highway ignoring the honking of the cars and buses lined up behind you? - that's your right according to the Environmentally Friendly Peddle Pushers Association of Inconsiderate Bastards.

Even better - I could join fellow cyclists in their favorite trick of blocking the Sydney Harbour Bridge at peak hour on a Friday afternoon, protesting the right to use the footpaths, nature strips, roads, bus lanes, transport lanes - everything in fact except the cycle paths provided at tax payers expense.

Yes, I can ride a bike. I even used to ride to work, often dressed in a brown, trendy over-coat, a Kojak hat, and a cigarette dangling from one hand. Man, did I look cool, (though those who saw me and shouted "Whatya think ya look like ya great big pillock" may disagree - there are Fashion Philistines in every city !).

Admittedly the last time I jumped on a saddle was in Cardiff when I was in my twenties, (I jumped on a lot of bikes in Cardiff in my twenties!) and ended in shall we say - unfortunate circumstances.

Despite the fact I am totally useless at fitting things, and certainly come nowhere near the natural skill some people have for fitting things up, I decided I would, without assistance, fit a speedometer to my bike.

All seemed to go well. The fancy new speedometer, gleamed on the shiny handlebars. I took off down a hill that led straight to a main road. As I neared the busy cross street, I decided it was time to apply the breaks and slow down. That's when the problems started. The bike wouldn't slow down. In fact, as I was on the steepest part of the hill, it was rapidly gaining speed.

Oh Gosh! I exclaimed, followed by "Listen God - I've got a proposition for you." God it seemed, was away on business. It was time to make a decision. I deliberately crashed the bike in order to stop. Luckily I was unhurt and just as fortunately, the rapid descent of the now detached front wheel, was stopped by a large tree.

Actually, the crashing was the easy part. The hard part was walking back up the hill, grazed, disheveled and carrying the front wheel in one hand and what was left of the bike in the other.

I think I'd better think this out again!

Wherever you may be - be safe

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