Before I get into today’s post, I must point out that although I have a pair of cycling knicks with world champion’s stripes on them, I am not and never have been a world champion. Not even at commuting. The knicks in question are a white Bianchi world champs pair which celebrate all the world road champions who have won on Bianchi bicycles. They were a bit shop soiled so Steve (who actually is a masters road race world champion) at Elite Racing Cycles gave them to me (thanks Steve!). They are very comfortable but, on the other hand, they are white. I’ve toyed with the idea of getting a matching white top and styling myself as some sort of white stallion but perhaps the best thing for everyone’s eyes is to just keep commuting with them under my baggy shorts.
Part of our lot as cyclists is that we are going to have run-ins with cars. Either near misses (which can actually sometimes be our fault) or just random abuse delivered our way. I used to get worked up about this but nowadays I usually just shrug my shoulders and keep riding. If someone is in a car, they’ll drive away and the best exchange you can hope for is giving each other a cheery fuck off which doesn’t really achieve much and is not actually particularly cathartic. Also, I’ve become worried that sooner or later, someone will parp at me and I’ll turn around all sweary and gestury and it’ll turn out to be one of my friends’ mothers trying to give me some encouragement. I don’t think I could live with that sort of shameful embarrassment.
I will, however, shout if I think someone is about to collide with me. I think this is a sensible thing to do. This morning I was riding along a road and a car turning left into the same road decided to pull out just as I was going past. I shouted oi at him, as he was on a trajectory to hit me. He parked his car by the road and angrily got on the horn at me. For some reason, I thought I might as well go back and say g’day. He seemed quite angry that I had shouted at him because he had seen me and was never actually going to hit me. My friend Chong recently attended some sort of conflict resolution course and had mentioned that one technique was to ask questions of the other party’s arguments. I thought I’d give it a go and asked him how I was supposed to know he wasn’t going to hit me. He said he had indicated the turn. I asked him how I should know that that meant he was going to park and not drive straight into me. The poor chap started getting quite worked up and told me that cyclists should be more aware. So I asked him in what way he felt I had been unaware as I cycled along the street. That seemed to confuse him because he told me to fuck off and that this road rage was all my fault. I have to admit I hadn’t seen that coming. “Road rage? But I’m not angry,” I said. He was walking away by now and I wasn’t going to follow him but he repeated his road rage line. Perhaps he really was quite furious. By now I was feeling cheeky so I told him he couldn’t spend his life blaming other people for everything and cycled off. Needless to say, I had the last laugh.
Obviously the best solution would have been for him to acknowledge that cyclists are vulnerable and that my shouting bore no malice (as they say in rugby commentary) and to part amicably but failing that, being able to taunt the poor chap did in fact bring me a lot of pleasure. I like to think he’s still stewing it all over now.
As for the rest of the commute to work, it was a beautiful morning to ride along the river. A nice, crisp 7C when I left the house but a clear blue sky to go with it. Here’s how some parts of it looked: