Today as I approached the village of Golden from the Tipperary town side I noticed a large green John Deere tractor with a blue dumper trailer attached travelling at speed as I came up to a junction on the edge of the village . It was just something in my peripheral vision but as any cyclist knows , you do tend to be more observant when on a bike .
I rode on through the village and turned right for Clonmel . The road kicks up slightly as you pass off a small housing estate before a slight downhill section for about 500m before a left hand bend .
As I approached the bend I could hear the roar of the big diesel engine behind me . I looked down and saw that I was doing 42kph . In a brief instant I estimated about 20 meters to the bend ahead , decided that at 42kph I wasn’t holding the tractor up and thought that the chance of a kamikaze passing out move by the driver on the bend was slim . I thought wrong .
He must really have been in a hurry when he decided to pass me on the bend . As soon as I saw his front wheel beside me I began to slow down just in case something came around the bend and he had to swerve in on top of me . That decision was a good one as a car did come around the bend and he did swerve in missing me by millimeters . But that wasn’t the best part .
Almost immediately he slammed on the brakes . I slammed on too and was thankful to Mr Campagnolo for the stopping power of Super Record brakes when I found myself within licking distance of the rear of the trailer which was level with my teeth .
Through a haze of black smoke which was floating up from the rear tyres of the trailer when they finally finished skidding , I saw an indicator being flicked on . The tractor driver had to almost double back on himself as he had overshot the right turn he was about to make .
He had taken an unbelievable risk to pass me on a bend when he was turning off anyway on the other side of the bend . The stupidity of the move baffled me , but then I thought about it a little more as I rode on .
The chances that the tractor driver was a middle aged pipe smoking farmer are very slim indeed . Although I did not get a good look at him , in all likelihood he is a teenager or someone in their early twenties . To stereotype him , he would drive a souped up honda civic , a toyota glanza or a peugot partner van with a CB ariel . He would smoke Silk Cut blue and regularly chat to his mates on the phone whilst driving through a local village at 50 kph in his tractor thinking the local girlies will be well impressed .
The minimum age in Ireland to drive a tractor on the road is 16 . When I was 16 I drove tractors on the road , but the most powerful was a Ford 6000 which seemed to top out at 18 mph .
Some tractors nowadays can travel at speeds approaching 80 or 90 kph .
All of this begs the question , Is 16 the correct age to allow someone to be in sole charge of a 5 tonne piece of large machinery that can travel at 80 kph ? When my kids are on the road , I don’t think it is !!