Monday 9 April 2018

#498 Road Rash

It was pleasant riding the 176 across the thawed tarmac along Walworth Road into the city this morning. Rays poured in through the top deck windows. The intermittent, gentle but authoritarian sound of the prerecorded female destination readouts let me know I was on track and on time. It was slightly boring though.

A cyclist banged hard on the downstairs side panel with his hand. His way of letting us know we weren't the only road user. I'd met newbie London cyclists who still thought Road Rash was a skin condition. The reality was closer to the 90's Sega Genesis version. Machines raced aggressively down hazardous routes. The clang of fists on metal. Hurling insults, tasting smog and taking chances. Cycling anywhere in the city was taking chances.

The first time I rode a bike in London, I got hit and tumbled over the handlebars. The back wheel bent at a right-angle. I was ten. My dad leaped over the bonnet of the car and he and the driver exchanged swear words until a police officer came. As an adult, my bike hadn't suffered a scratch until that night I left it at Peckham Rye station. It was chained up but I should've known better.

I'd never replaced it. As I sat there on the top deck this morning, a part of me wished I was down on the concrete, heaving and weaving. Hammering the pedals, glancing back every so often to see what four-wheeled monstrosity I was competing with. The underdog of the road. Risking life for fitness and a more invigorating ride home.


Fizzfan said...

Not surprised you didn’t get another bike!
I watch too much 24 hours in A & E to be much of a fan of cycling on busy roads, or even motor bikes now, which is a shame because I do actually love cycling.
Last time I done any was at Centre Parks where cars are banned though. It was an especially lovely memory peddling through the forest on a gorgeous sunny May day. My love of forests and trees made that little interlude seem about as perfect as any afternoon I had ever had.

I’d love to see more cities give preferential treatment to cyclists, like in Cambridge, Copenhagen and Amsterdam, I think there’s something really wholesome and reassuring seeing cyclists given preferential treatment to cars.
Of course with the advent of needing to wear safety gear, I’d never be brave enough to cycle anywhere due to helmet hair as much as potential death from vehicles.

Profound Familiarity said...

Isn't Centre Parcs fantastic? The idea of a forest getaway but with all the mod cons is utopic.

I'm half tempted to Google "solutions to helmet hair" but it's not a problem I have.

Jonathan Copping said...

Great post son, I remember the incident on London Bridge - you'd been to work with me on a weekend end day preparing for a large office move. I felt guilty as I should have been watching from behind, but then I had to lead too! Still managed to become a fully qualified Sky ride leader for British Cycling showing we're not perfect even when we are.

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