Tour de Rants!

It was bound to happen. A woman like me can only hold her tongue for so long before her bile becomes indigestible, and I have to spit words. Besides to be frank, this one has been brewing for months.

 

Bicycles, bicycles, bicycles–They are everywhere, apparently one in 10 of us now cycles at least once a week.

Really!

 

Well, I know at least 10 people that don’t, and I’m certain no one has ever asked me!

Furthermore, I am pretty sure the sight of me in Lycra shorts would cause more accidents than my clumsy attempt to ride something that, unfortunately, has rather painful memories for me from childhood. I broke my arm falling off one when I was 5.


I will, however, confess to owning one. Well, I say own; I didn’t actually part with the £700 or so pounds I was advised to spend on a “decent” bike – no,  I have one that a neighbour very kindly gave to me when I expressed an interest in trying it. I have serious suspicions that I was drunk at that time, and that said neighbour merely saw a crafty way of clearing out his shed. Needless to say, it has now taken up residency in my shed, and he now has an apple press in his.

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I did start out with high hopes of using it to get fit. I pictured myself pedalling down to the village shop every day to get the milk, cycling to pick my daughter up from school and us strolling back along the river, lovely idyllic scenarios of how I should be. Then someone pointed out that there are two very steep hills between me the shop and the school and although I am pretty confident of getting down them, I am absolutely certain I will never get up them again.


Then there’s the gears; I never could get my head round how that all works! So my super-duper second hand bike is sitting in my garage waiting for the time I feel brave enough to have a go.


So why then, when I confess to owning one and indeed hold a secret desire to venture forth  on one, do I have such venomous distaste of them? Simple – I live in an area that will be part of the “Grande Depart” route.

I should explain further.


Firstly I will state that if this were a singular one off event I would not be quite so agitated by it. I would embrace it as a boost to trade and tourism that it undoubtedly will be and yes perhaps even stick a yellow banner in my garden offering overnight camping facilities to those who are coming to stand by the roadside and cheer these buff men on their way.


But the simple fact of the matter is this is not a one off for us. Admittedly we don’t always have the road closures, or the enforced grounding that will happen on the weekend in question but we are plagued by cyclists on a daily basis. There is barely days go by when we are not inundated with packs of them.

Now don’t get me wrong – the sight of a pert little bottom wiggling up and down on a bike can keep me amused for oh… all of about 30 seconds but I’m afraid after that the admiration wears off and I remember that I do have to be somewhere by a set time and now this pack of tight little bottoms is making me late!


Singularly I can cope. I am quite happy to bide my time until I can carefully and courteously overtake my Lycra clad friend. But ask yourself – how long you would be prepared to wait behind a pack of 10 to 20 cyclists some riding three abreast before your patience and expletives would run out?


Again as a one off mildly frustrating, but all the time? You can pretty much guarantee that, on any journey, you take of any distance in this area at any time of day you will encounter this problem at least twice.


Once upon a time it was just a weekend occurrence. You could psyche yourself up to going out and know to add an extra 20 minutes to your journey but not now. Now it’s more or less daily, there is no predictability to it, no way of hedging your bets, no way you can know what to expect. So my only recourse is mumbling to myself as I pass them “Why aren’t you at bloody work!”

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How do all these people manage to get the time off to go careering round the countryside? The fact that once in a pack they actually seem to adopt a pack mentality and completely ignore other road users just further fuels the frustration. It’s as though once together they  adopt a collective moral high ground.


Yes, you’re on a bike. Yes your bike probably cost more than my car. Yes you are a superior being because you can balance and pedal at the same time, but does that really entitle you to completely forget that you can be courteous and considerate to other people? Apparently so.

I know cyclists in towns and cities get a raw deal and I am completely on the side of anyone that cycles to work or for that matter has any purpose to their journey on a bike, but recreational cyclists – no.


The insane competitiveness that overtakes them when they are out can only be described as suicidal. These men clearly become so focused on overtaking the man in front that any sense of rational behavior goes out the window.

I say men because it is predominantly men and any glance at the statistics readily available on the subject will bear me out.

I appreciate that I live in an area of stunning natural beauty and that others should be free to come and enjoy it and I absolutely agree with that. But as much as I am expected to be accepting and respectful of other people’s rights to come to the place I live, am I also not entitled to some respect as a person who lives and works here! That is all I ask, some good old fashioned manners.

Any attempt to accommodate would be appreciated; even tractors and caravans have a modicum of road courtesy and will on occasion pull over to let people go by, but a pack of cyclists go in single file to let you pass?  Not a hope in hell.

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