Thoughts of Cycling in the Fall

Summer is gone.

I sat in my office today, my poor katoosh frozen. Our central heating is yet to be turned on, even though temperatures outside are less than 10 degrees. I can barely feel my fingers and I certainly cannot feel my toes.

Autumn is here.

My cycle to work now involves the sunlight glaring in my eyes, occassionally through mist. There are just as many cyclists now as there were in summer, but more of them are brand new (uni) students, taking up the whole of MY cycle path.

I grumble, grouch and ding-ding my bell, to no avail. Especially the young women: they hold their position as they come towards me, archly ignoring my presence in front of them. I’m on the left. You’re on the right. We are about to have a collision if you don’t move. Sometimes I jump onto the grass, and they give me a surprised innocent look, and I hate them quietly. Sometimes, I peddle onwards, aggressively bowing my head like a bull ready to charge, and wait for them to skid sideways, making affronted noises and giving me upset glares. I’m in the right, sweety, and I have years of practise in judgemental self-righteousness on my side.

Really, I am quite a considerate cyclist. Honest. I cycle kindly with pedestrians, rarely dinging my bell; more often, just calling out or taking a wide detour, especially around dogs and children, for whom I slow down to near-walking pace. I’m less nice to the ‘Boot Camp’ groups who inexplicably drop onto the middle of the path to do sit-ups and push-ups, or start running backwards without looking behind them. To them, I ding-ding away. I glare at their instructor, dressed in camo gear. I want to shout to the participants: Buy a bike, guys! Why are you paying these sadistic, demi-military men to shout abuse at you? Cycle to work – it’s actually rather fun!

I cycle defensively with cars and only aggressive, dangerous drivers cause me to display my anger, by means of rude gestures or shouted obscenities. I have tapped on a car window, after the driver sped up to use the left lane to overtake me who was coasting down the middle of the right lane, set to do a right turn. They had to stop at the light, so I tapped-tapped on their window and said, “That was dangerous and stupid”, and to which their reply was a sheepish look. Usually, though, I just swallow my annoyance or think mean thoughts, but do nothing. A car is lots-of-tonnes of metal, and a bike is not. If you’re going to be aggressive and dangerous, I’d rather let you then hold my own and be dead or injured, because that’s not really that much fun. And anyway, it will make me even later for work than I already am.

But I really have no patience for inconsiderate cyclists. None at all.

I can’t wait until winter, when only the committed cyclists will still be peddling away. These rubbish cyclists, with no sense of cylcing etiquette, will have wimped their way onto buses to get to uni. The cycle path will be mine, all mine. [herein insert maniacal cackle.]

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