"She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life"

The moon is bouncing off the glitterball that lives in my window and has covered the walls with spots of soft silver light. For some reason I have started falling asleep at about 9.30 in the evening but the benefit is that I wake up early enough to see things like this.

Actually, I think the reason I am in bed so early is that I have started cycling to work. I could blame the excessive cost of petrol but in fact it is the excessive amount of lard that I am carrying that has made it necessary. I am going abroad for Christmas and I don’t want to be a fat pasty English bird sweating my way round Australia. As I am rubbish at denying myself food the only way forward is to cycle 60 miles a week. It sounds like a daunting number but it only takes an hour each way. I’m used to taking an hour to get to work, anything less and I’m never quite sure what to do with myself. It’s very flat – there’s only one small hill on the way home, which I have to do battle with in high gear because if I change down the chain gets stuck. And only about 200 yards of that has to be done on rural roads with a national speed limit.

I find it a very peaceful way to travel, particularly when compared with the challenge of filtering five miles of standing traffic. It’s good for my head, too – because the middle part of my route is traffic-free I can safely let my mind wander without the worry of stuffing myself up the back of a Skoda.

The drawback with this, of course, is that I now have a crisis of identity. I asked the Cambridge Cycle Campaign for advice on the etiquette of passing on cycle paths – do we behave like little cars and hug the left? What do I do when someone faster comes up behind me and dings for attention? They were very kind and helpful and naturally invited me to join their group, which lobbies for better cycling facilities in the town. And right there is where we have a problem. I’m all for Advanced Stop Lines – as long as I can put Two Moos behind one after we’ve filtered to the front. Most cyclists (well, most of the ones who post on The Guardian’s Bike Blog) don’t like to share. They think of motorcycles as two-wheeled cars. I think of bicycles as motorbikes without an engine. I can’t lobby against myself. I might have become my own power lump but I’m still a biker.

The other reason I need to be more svelte when I get Down Under is that I’m going to be travelling on a 110cc twist-and-go. I had such a laugh on the 125 that Cambridge Motorcycles lent me that I’m going to spurn a rental GS in favour of buying a postie bike to explore Western Australia. The less of me it has to carry the more room I’ll have available for creature comforts.



Filed under Riding

7 responses to “"She who succeeds in gaining the mastery of the bicycle will gain the mastery of life"

  1. Please confirm that you do not wear tight lycra and a helmet full of cooling slots! I couldn't bear to hear we've lost you to those arrogant, ignorant hooligans.

  2. Good luck w/ all aspects of Plan Australia. I need to get my bicycle out into the universe and pedal some myself. Perfect season for it I think.

  3. I'm afraid I am wearing lycra tights because I already have a pair which I bought when I thought I would go running. The helmet's a jolly pink ex-snowboarding one made by Bell, though ๐Ÿ™‚

  4. @Michelle – thanks for the good luck ๐Ÿ™‚ It should be an excellent adventure!

  5. If I'm not very much mistaken the title of this blog post is a quote from Flann O'Brien's 'the Third Policeman', or has someone doctored the ouzo?

  6. The internet attributes it variously to Frances E Willard and Susan B Anthony. And of course everything on the internet is true ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. HL:

    very daring of you to wear lycra, form fitting, tight, leave nothing to the imagination tights. In this case I would rather you be in front. Australia is going to love you

    Riding the Wet Coast

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