Sunday, 14 June 2009

Urgh. The pitfalls of age

When I go for a ride, I generally try to take it easy for the first few kilometres in order to warm up a bit. It's not easy when it gets cold, because you want to start off riding hard in order to actually "warm up", as in generate some heat internally through rapid muscle contraction. I really have to hold myself back in those first 5 minutes so that I don't damage myself later on. That can be tough when the thermometer is displaying a single digit, and the air is full of mist.

That all flies out the window though when some tool does something dangerous, like the Audi-idiot yesterday who overtook me just as we were entering a roundabout. The horror of that is easy to explain - I do not go "around" roundabouts like a car - I go through them. Because I am not six feet wide like a car, and I don't have 4 wheels, I do not have to turn left and then swing back to the right. I do not perform a wide arc in other words - I can usually just blatt straight through them without turning the handlebars, which means I can blatt through a roundabout much faster than a car can. I end up just skirting the concrete island in the middle, which means I am essentially filling the entire lane in the roundabout. (I'm talking about small roundabouts here that even a small truck would have trouble going around - not those monstrous things the size of a footy oval).

If a car tries to overtake me though, the problem is that we run out of road. Most roundabout lanes are too narrow to carry both a bike and a car side by side in a safe manner. I have been "pushed" into a concrete traffic island on the right before by a car trying to overtake and muscle me out of the lane. It is not fun colliding with a 5 inch tall concrete block at speed. If the car behind is coming up too fast and can't stop in time, there is a huge risk that you'll get collected from behind because idiot thinks he can go around, then realises he can't, and you become a hood ornament.

Personally, if I go through someone's windscreen, and I am still alive and kicking, I am go to beat the driver to a bloody pulp with my remaining strength. They will require surgery to remove their steering wheel from their forehead.

So when I approach a roundabout, I pull out to the right and try and "take over" the entire lane, forcing cars behind me to slow down or stop and let me have the road. I'm not being an arsehole - I'm simply trying to stay alive and stop my skin being smeared all over the road. The occasional driver is in such a hurry and feels so little need to share the road that they cross over to the wrong side of the road and go around me - I had one driver go around the roundabout the wrong way in order to get in front of me! Madness.

The stupidity of this is that in many cases, I soon catch up with the driver, who is stranded at the next set of lights. In most cases, I leave them be as it is not safe to wind through the stalled cars to bang on their window and give them my opinion on their parentage, driving skills and personality traits. The odd unlucky driver has recieved an earfull from me, and I am sometimes tempted to carry a set of side cutters in my back pocket - if the driver is unrepentant, you simply lean down and cut the top off their tyre valves with the side cutters, and then ride away, leaving them wondering how they are going to change two flat tyres.

All that aside, this is why I try to be a Zen cyclist. Don't let it get to you. There is no need to join a pistol club and acquire a small fire arm. Walk past that sports store and ignore the desire to buy a small baseball bat. Put the monkey wrench away - you are not taking that for a ride today. And put the side cutters back in the tool box.

Anyway, I met the Audi within a few minutes of leaving home yesterday, and even though I was not warmed up, I chased the bastard. Boy, do I regret that now. Everything hurts. When I was far from home yesterday, I could feel it in my back muscles and leg muscles and even in my shoulders - I gave it a solid spurt before I was ready to spurt, and the body becomes so much less forgiving as it starts to fall apart. I even had back spasms as I was waiting at a red light - that has not happened in years.

So if I go again today, I will think Zen. And work out a way to take out these bastards at long range.


Blognor Regis said...

Surely you aren't bare legged/kneed in < 10C temps?

Stay Zen Man.

Boy on a bike said...

No, I pull out the leg warmers when it gets like that.