Getting to work twenty seconds earlier.
Running the red light just to have to stop at another a hundred yards up the road.
Weaving from lane to lane trying to get ahead of everybody else on the road.
Shouting and screaming at anyone who you deem to be in your way or not moving fast enough.
Easing out of that lane way or at lights to get through the traffic first.
I cycle to work every day from the burbs in west Dublin to the city centre about 13 km each way. It’s a mixture of cycle lanes, open roads and roads with cycle lanes plonked in them to apparently fix a problem. Most days I see all of the above happening because inevitably its rush hour and people are going to work or on the school run and that’s a part of everyday life. What I don’t see is much courtesy and respect for other road users from any side. I will openly admit that most of the worst road users I see on a daily basis are other cyclists and that saddens me because I stop at every light and crossing because is my life really worth it for the risk that is involved. Since I became a father two years ago I have been more conscious of risks around me and not just on my bike.
The questions above can be asked to most road users and the answers would be the same. They would say it’s not worth it but I will continue to do it because it’s not something that I think about. This is an indictment of how life has become about deadlines and time critical situations that are life and death but not really because who are you kidding. Life and death is being on the front lines doctor soldier nurse fireman not accountant executive housewife. If your job or appointment is really that important leave earlier and plan ahead.
Cycling is about freedom not deadlines. If I get on my bike and go for a ride I expect to arrive home a slightly sweaty happier person but still breathing.
Starting to cycle can be a daunting task but once you get on the bike for the first time its liberating. It doesn’t matter if you’re wearing the yellow jersey or a woolly jumper everyone who cycles feels better afterwards. My advice to anyone who is thinking about getting a bike and giving it a go is just going for it. You don’t have to be riding a carbon rocket ship carved from a god’s arse that costs the same as a small countries budget deficit. Start small and build on what you have and aim for what’s achievable. Leisure cycling to road racing and everything in between means that there is something for everyone no matter how old or fat like me. I started off at 21 stone struggling to remove the saddle from my ass after every 30 km ride (that’s all I could manage without a support crew and paramedic on standby) to losing a bit of weight and riding with a great club that doesn’t pressure riders to race but encourages them to have fun and I am a much better person for it. You don’t have to average 30km s an hour or keep your cadence above ninety to enjoy it but if you want to than go for it. If you want to just ride your bike and soak up all your area has to offer than go for it and why not bring along someone to enjoy it with you.
I love to go fast and descending is my favourite thing to do but there is a limit to how fast you can go in traffic in a city before you become a lethal weapon waiting to take someone or something out. You have to adopt a different approach for different types of riding. Caution is the key to commuting and to staying alive because is it really worth it? The open road is for everyone to enjoy and all we need is a little patience and understanding from each other. This morning I rode to work in minus 1 with a headwind and passed by cars with heaters on and music blaring and they all looked toasty and comfortable and in there happy place. My happy place is on my bike no matter what the weather or conditions and if we just all had a little bit of respect for each others happy paces than wouldn’t the road be a much nicer place for us all.