Wednesday, 13 November 2019 10:40

Things to do on a Bike : Remember You're Actually Having Fun

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The world is a frustrating place today. Full of people pretending prejudice is a worthwhile opinion. People being more interested in what others are doing and getting enraged about that rather than trying to improve things for themselves. People who think that their knowledge, procured watching Top Gear, The One Show and the fat liar on GMTV is as valid as someone who has studied evidence from opposing viewpoints and come to an informed opinion.

I try to stay away from a lot of this and cycling is my escape and blessed relief but sadly the stench of self righteous, whilst always there, has now become a risk to my sanity. Cycling is in danger of becoming another outlet of middle aged ire and rage and I can't just step aside and let it happen. Not on my watch.

 First of all. No, the irony of me writing a moan about moaning is not lost on me but sometimes one must do something unpalatable, like eating vegetables. For mountain bike riders, I mean the gherkin in your burger or chips. 

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I've been feeling this way for a while. Watching social media groups give the wrong advice on mechanical issues. The stock answer of go to your "Local Bike Shop" for all buying and big mech jobs. OK I really need to deal with here. Julie purchased a bike through Cyclescheme at a LBS. This had been fully Pre Delivery Inspected or PDI'd. Well at least the paperwork, a legal document, had been ticked and signed. First issue was it didn't have a bell attached. This is actually illegal so I did a full inspection myself. List off issues included badly indexed gears, misaligned brake blocks and barrel adjusters fully out. I've a few other stories but I'll save that for a future piece.

Going back to social media, yesterday there was a post from a self appointed god of safety which included a photo of a rider in black. 1, 2, 3 and cue all the outrage, I'll deal with these as I go along

"How can anyone see him?"

Well you did long enough to see him and get your phone and take a pic

Drivers can't be blamed if they hit him?

Actually they can and besides the one in the picture, who is performing a text book overtake using the other lane, obviously has

He endangers all of us

How exactly? Is he going to be hit and bounce into your car killing you?

Should be wearing hi vis?

Why the car isn't and in this pic the green hedges and low sun would make the hi vis work like camouflage.

And it went on.

Perhaps these endless debates had their place over a few pints in the pub. Perhaps they work for the middle aged man to provide some meaning to his sad life but things have gone too far.

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Riding a flat bar bike on test recently I've noticed just how grumpy, no not grumpy rude some roadies are, seen a temper tantrum from CAT4 Crit rider on being told off by officials and perhaps best of all last weekend whilst out on a family walk on the Millennium Coastal Path in South Wales, an old bloke, wrapped up like our patron Alan Hinkes in the death zone, riding a £200 folder, rode straight towards me and swerved at the last moment performing a punishment pass. Seriously!!!!! A punishment past. When this sort of nonsense happens then the world is sort of messed up.

So no more. Nirvana spolied Rock Music for me, The final series of Scrubs is best not mentioned, boomers mean I can no longer order thick bacon steaks with an egg on top at the pub and success for Welsh Rugby and Swansea City has ruined being crap yet blindly optimistic. I have to defend cycling.

Whilst there are many noble reasons for cycling like environmental issues, health both physical and mental, saving money etc mostly it's fun. I'll give an example.

When I worked selling bikes I had a customer come in in his mid sixties. He'd had a weight related heart scare and the Doctors had recommended cycling as the best form of exercise. He should have picked his bike up nest day but he looked so crest fallen, I looked sorry for him and got it done there and then. Bike paid for he went outside and as he declined my offer to lift his new best friend into the car I went back to trying to stop  children using the adult bikes as climbing frames. About an hour later I went outside and saw the bloke riding around the car back whilst his exhausted wife looked on. He had that face that kids have when they first ride without support. You know the one. Like a dog with it's head out of the car window. That is what cycling is supposed to be about.

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Yes cycling has it's dangers. The roads can be hideous. I've been hit by a car and I've crashed badly on a cycle path, an accident in which a "safety" device was a contributing factor. I've also hit nearly 60mph in the Alps, ridden the sweet singletrack of Afan, sprinted down the Mall, raced cyclocross, toured and so on. Why do I do it. Mostly for fun.

Earlier I alluded to the crap diets of Mountain Bikers but having gone for a walk at Afan recently I noticed something. Bellies and stupid peaked helmets not withstanding, they were enjoying themselves. Smiling, laughing, outside. Mickey taking of other riders kit rather than judgement and not once did any of them flex about their "Barista" talents. 

So please can we all learn from the baggie short brigade. Lets all enjoy chatting, socialising and not getting upset about what others are doing. Start by nodding or waving at others whilst riding. Live in the moment of your legs turning around. Enjoy the fact that you are the engine and the passenger. Be happy, enjoy your freedom, rejoice in the extra slice of cake, drool over things you'll never afford. Try to understand the Madison race. Just BLOODY ENJOY BEING ON YOUR BIKE and if you really, really need to argue with someone on the internet then there are plenty of threads in walking groups about whether to take an ice axe up Pen Y Fan next Saturday.

In conclusion Bikes are Brilliant

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