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The Class War

Hello,

well the good weather has finally arrived and as such so have the hordes of gleaming carbon pavement crawlers. Yes I am a believer in the old strength in numbers idea, surely any increase in cycling is a good thing but in this case I may be wrong.

My mileage is slowly coming up with the longer warmer days and I must admit my last trip out was fantastic, a mix of busy roads and quiet country lanes and not a bit of hassle from any driver in all of the 4 hours it took me. Its almost as though the sun has some profound affect on people forcing them to take their time instead of rushing to the office or home and just enjoy being out. It proves people can still be decent we all need to just slow down instead of spending so much time in our heads.

If this is the case though and were all a bit more leisurely in the sun it gave me more time to notice something. The groups of lycra clad roadies and mountain bikes which haven’t seen a drop of rain grace their paintwork wobbling along pavements and over crossings which can only be harmful to the image. Yes I understand if you have a child with you why you wouldn’t want to risk the road and I think most people would turn a blind eye to a parent and child enjoying a day out especially if pretty much walking speed, but please if you can get on the road. The same people can be found 5 miles down the road stuck outside their local cafe or pub without even breaking a sweat to earn their cake and coffee, trying to live up to some continental image the cafes now try to cater for almost like middle aged hipsters.

This brings me to my point, over the winter id obviously been off a while due to the crash but I started again a few months back with the intention of building up for the summer and luckily a few people wanted to join the club. This was ideal as my fitness was back to zero so we planned some routes and got out. Now with the warm weather other people have started turning up for club rides and to be honest ive found myself doing more solo trips or just with the original starters. One of them even saying how “our group now feels like a club in a club”.

Cafe stops are now filled with talk of how much people have spent on their kit or 3rd carbon bike this year, instead of laughing about life.

Yes people should enjoy money they’ve worked for but I cant stand middle class ways. Even worse working class people who outright believe their middle class or try to keep up with the others.

Where has peoples pride gone why cant you just be happy being yourself and not have to keep up with the Joneses latest kit and gadgets, all that does is suck the fun and heart out of cycling which is the one reason why we all keep at it.

My dad was a cyclist in the 70’s and 80’s and tells me of how he rode 100 mile trips on a single speed bike he built from salvaged parts. At one point fixed a broken chain by riveting it with a brick at the road side, which he carried on using for later trips. This seems to have been the norm when talking to some of the older fellas in the club. People just going out because they enjoyed the trip, and some even then clocking up better times than people on carbon now.

Council estates are no longer that any more each house having to have a better front than the last and who has the most or best car parked out front and the majority of people now don’t even speak to their neighbours. I used to say that I have never met a cyclist I didn’t like as they all seemed to share the same ideals that you join clubs for the friendship and laughs being a welcome break from work but its quickly becoming the golfers new sport.

I have thought of quitting the club scene as this “out do” attitude is not what I signed up for, but I know like the lads who started in winter there are still the odd few decent people. That’s what keeps me going… plus the fact that come next winter those who have all the gear no idea will be too scared their carbon will turn into wet noodles and we wont be seeing them for a while.

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With age comes wisdom

I awoke this morning and having prepared all my gear the night before I was determined to get out on the bike despite the threat of rain. Gazing out the window you’d of thought spring had finally arrived but within 5 miles of setting off I was caught in what can only be described as a blizzard. Snow in April is a bit of a rarity but not unheard of.

Even just a few years ago id of forced myself to carry on but within a few minutes the lack of overshoes and fingerless gloves had proven to be my downfall so I swung around the nearest roundabout and headed home. Experience told me its not worth suffering through weather like that and I am not willing to risk another accident when I am only just getting my fitness back.

I became immediately more cautious of things around me the double yellow lines, manhole covers and the fact that brakes aren’t great in the wet. I decided to take the lane in order to avoid having to dodge out into traffic to avoid such obstacles. Now during the few miles home I had two drivers blaring their horns to try and get me out of the way not realising why cyclists take the lane.

It may be a bit of a rant but its starting to feel like humans are losing their humanity. People forget its only people around them not cyclists or motorists and I am sure that extra 20 seconds to safely overtake from the comfort of a heated cage wont do you any harm. Articles have hinted at it being that cyclists upset some sort of unwritten code amongst drivers or the “natural” rhythm of traffic and that’s what annoys drivers but I disagree.

I honestly believe the moment someone hands over large amounts of cash for a car, something they have to keep paying out for they believe in return it gives them some right to do as they please. Forgetting the moment they get behind a wheel they’ve CHOSEN to enter into the agreement of paying, emissions tax, insurance, MOT’s, services, petrol the full whack. This is what truly annoys them when they see someone doing what they’ve paid thousands to do for free, hence the need to constantly tell us we don’t pay road tax.

Unless your stuck in some pre 1937 time warp with a gramophone to play that tired record on then neither do you.

Cyclists have full rights to use the entire lane, after all it is a carriageway not a motorway. The name itself is a give away hinting at the days of horse drawn carriages and slow moving traffic. Yes I agree if all’s well and your travelling along under 20-mph move over let cars past but due to conditions we all need to be a bit more careful when out and if making myself more visible and avoiding obstacles means we all get home be it 20 seconds slower then ill continue to do this.

A quote I read some years back,

“It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle.”
Ernest Hemingway

This I think applies just as much to weather as contours, you don’t gain as much appreciation for conditions or surroundings in a car as you do on a bike. Its often said cyclists and motorcyclists make the best drivers as they have to be alert so this topics question.

Should motorists have to complete cycle lessons as part of their test?

You never know the odd one might decide to just stick to cycling and not waste on average the 127 hours a year stuck in traffic. And as for drivers you’ll most likely make back your 20 seconds spent overtaking thanks to that one less car.

Beginnings

Its hard to know where to start so ill begin with what led me to write this.

Cycling has always been a part of my life. From four years old not allowed any further than the curb to my teens as a way of seeing friends into adulthood as both my sport, transport… and medicine.

Back in 2015 I decided after quite some time to walk away from my job due to an abusive boss taking over and being put on a zero hour contract after 5 years, often meaning it cost me more to go to work than I made. Overall it was causing severe anxiety and depression affecting not just me but those around me but after talks with my partner we decided it best for me to just walk away, something I found hard to do knowing id have to live on just savings and having always worked.

After visiting NHS Dr’s I was told there wasn’t much they could do apart from medication which both myself and my Dr weren’t keen on the idea of so I decided to concentrate on the one constant that kept my sanity….Cycling.

From finding new routes and scenery, the absolute agony and determination to complete a route acting as a purge to the system to the relaxed club rides on a weekend morning for good food and even better laughs. This all kept me on a high similar to that you hear runners speak of.

This all came to an end three months after quitting my job when a car pulled out without warning resulting in various injuries to myself… and more importantly my beloved bike.

Being out of work this wasn’t something I could simply replace and even if I could several Dr’s had advised me to stay off the bike and any heavy gym work till January, bearing in mind this happened in August.

By November my fitness had totally gone, my asthma had came back and so did the anxiety and depression but I had beat it once and would again I just had to wait it out. I also managed to get and hold a temporary job over Christmas which paid enough to top up savings and took away any financial worry for a while.

Once I had the all clear I was forced to use parts salvaged from an old bike one or two bought and a mend and make do attitude as insurance has still not came through and by the end of February I was back out on two wheels… now with the knowledge that all that time off and being away from the damaging affects of lycra shorts had resulted in me finding out that im about to be a dad.

By now we have had our first scan and the baby’s fine. This has given me a boost more mentally than anything. All previous worries causing the anxiety have been replaced with the nervousness of preparing for what is to come. Yes you get stressed but no more so than any other person would, this stress is not a burden more pure excitement but im still wanting to accomplish a few things this summer before being surrounded by romper suits and cuddly toys such as the coast to coast in a day.

Now though being well on the way to being a dad the question seems stronger than ever.

Are our roads now too dangerous for cyclists?