Last year during some incoherent drunken blathering, I mentioned that I wouldn’t mind getting a bike to start riding early in the morning for fitness and to try and make some cardio headway on the unbecoming “approaching middle age” midsection/back-fat combo that is starting to develop on my torso. Only pigs need crackling after all.
Sure enough a few weeks later, on my birthday, my awesome de-facto brother Paulie Martin presented me with his old (but barely ridden) mountain bike. We’re talking sexpanther-black, mint tyres, and shocks that I will literally never have occasion or (lets be honest) athleticism/airtime/basic motor skills to ever need. He also bought me a perfectly acceptable (we’ll go into this later) helmet to wear to avoid “The Man” and his waggling finger and little yellow note pad.
A very generous and functional gift that I appreciate greatly, but here’s the rub… Now I feel obliged to actually ride the fuckin’ thing.
Riding a Bicycle is something that I haven’t done in years, almost so long that I’m scared that the old saying: “Just like riding a bike” may actually no longer apply to me.
What if when I finally do climb back on, I end up catapulting myself through the front window of a fishmongers? Seafood buying punters scrambling to get out of the way as old Case comes bellowing and hurtling through the glass shop-front, ice, squid tubes and Deep Sea Dory flying everywhere?
Just for the sheer halibut
Well, actually in truth I am relatively confident that I have the skill to remain upright and avoid any really major mishaps or macabre abrasions. But perhaps more terrifying is having to make the decision of what kind of cyclist I want to be. When you were a kid it was socially acceptable and some would say endearing to just ride on the footpath, especially around the sleepy beach town of Tindalls Bay, where I spent most of my youth (Kia’ora-cations to Jess Mills), whereas adult cyclists who ride on the footpath are scorned and put in the same category as people who ride Donkeys through shopping malls or Segways through graveyards.
Thing is, if you are riding a bike and you are over 16 years of age, it appears there is no such thing as a happy medium, you generally fall into one of of three categories:
Hardcore: Spandex clad Lance Armstrong wannabes, travelling in packs often riding 3 abreast with no regard for the vehicles around them, the only group in society aside from hair metal bands in which Oakley M-Frames never went out of fashion. Riding with a sort of Napoleon complex constantly complaining about how they are not respected on the roads and how they should be thought of like any other vehicle, even though they are unable to travel even a fraction of the normal speed limit and are given their own lane in which they refuse to ride. Taking pains to proudly thrust forward their bikeshorts-clad Moose-knuckles while waiting cock-legged next to you at the lights, rubbing their Spandex quads and grimacing as if to say “Its a deep burn, oh its sooo deep”
Often riding arrogantly
Way I see it is if you are a 85kg cyclist riding on a road where your maximum speed is 35kph and you’re sharing the road with large metal vehicles travelling at a minimum speed of 50kph, it would seem nothing more than simple logic that you do everything you can to minimise the risk to yourself.
I’m not saying that cyclists should have any less right to ride on the road than motorists, but if you are a cyclist who refuses to acknowledge that you are slower and often harder to see than cars, and have the attitude that you are a vehicle too and have the same rights as everyone else and pig-headedly refuse to ride defensively, guess what? When an accident happens, no matter who is in the wrong.
YOU STILL LOSE
You can argue about who had the right of way all you want, but it sucks to try and do it 18 weeks later in court when your jaw is wired shut and your “colostomy bag full” alarm keeps beeping.
Yes the age old battle between pride and skin grafts silently rages throughout the hardcore cycling fraternity.
Dark Rider: Usually wearing a stained singlet/ripped hoodie and ultra-loose blue jeans worn low enough to expose a minimum of 6 inches of satin boxer short. Either riding hell for leather towards you on the wrong side of the road, or careening from side to side in huge slow loops with a crate of beer over one shoulder.
Usually bogans who have lost their license due to multiple drunk driving offences, or just had to make a choice between gassing up the rust-bucket falcon or buying “a slab o’ vuckin voyboy”
“I’ll just tayke the vuckin pushie dan’the boddle-o, toowoyzey”
(for kiwi readers, the Bottle-o is the liquor store)
Usually wearing a helmet, unfastened on their head, presumably so that if they see police they can do it up and avoid a fine, don’t even get me started on how fuckin idiotic this is.
Okay you got me started…
If you think you’re too cool/tough to wear a helmet, then don’t wear one, if you do wear one, do it up. If you don’t, you might as well wear a T-shirt that says
“I am a Cocktard, please punch me in the balls”
Fixie riding Neo-Hippie: The whole new-bikes-that-look-like-old-bikes phenomenon has really caught on in recent years, and has given rise to a whole new breed of cyclist, usually girls wearing cut off denim shorts, leather braid headbands, and crochet vests. Riding a bike that looks like a prop from Anne of Green Gables, and looking like they are on their way to an MGMT video shoot.
Usually only riding 5 houses down, to a mates house.
But do you see what I’m getting at? Its very seldom to see someone just out riding a bike, its like it either has to be a way of life, a last resort, or a fashion accessory. This is what has been stopping me from just getting out there on the road and riding for fitness, I almost feel like I want to distance myself as much as possible from a category so this weekend I’m gonna throw caution to the wind and go out for a ride wearing a bright brown cape, oven mitts and a latex wolf mask.
Wish me luck