Ding, ding, bike on the road! Ding ding, careful now. Ding ding, excuse me and my two wheeled contraption. Ding ding, look away from your phone and focus on the road you’re crossing. Ding ding ding ding, is this annoying? Ding ding ding ding ding, why are you angry I have alerted you to my presence? Ding! What the hell is bicycle bell etiquette?
I’ve fitted a bell to my commuter bike. My oh my. Who’d have thought such a simple act would be so fraught with existential questions?!
Oh. My. God. How do people cycle to work each day, like this, are they mental? This was my reaction to commuting in London recently despite the fact I’ve commuted in the city by bike for over ten years.
So what changed? Well I moved house and had to find a new route to work. Lazy, I began with a direct route on major roads. Never, ever, ever again. No room to manoeuvre, to enjoy, to breathe. Cars, buses, motorbikes, cyclists. Everywhere. Swarms of the things. Overwhelmed, my brain fried and nerves frayed.
Few things put a smile on my face. Yet when my vacant veneer cracks the cause is often a simple affair. Good food. Strong coffee. A shared joke. A blue sky. Simple pleasures one should not deconstruct. Add to this cycling.
I’m not talking about the epic cycling fables you read in well bound magazines with black and white images, oh no. Sometimes there’s nothing more pleasurable than a plain old “I’m just popping out” kind of ride. Such rides usually pass unnoticed. Yet sometimes the ordinary surprises.
We’ve all got one. No, I’m not talking about the bike or the anecdote about the time you fell off your bike when using clipless pedals for the first time. I’m talking about the route we cycle more often not, a road well-travelled, a line on the map as familiar as an old pair of shoes or that cute girl / boy you see on the bus every Monday but never speak to even though you’re convinced they once winked at you.