The Cycle Path Olympics

commuting on a folding bike

Cycling is a race for many people, even if the only people they race with are their imaginary opponents on a cycle path. There is nothing quite like hearing someone change down gears after you have passed them, to then bury themselves to regain their imaginary first place from you. You watch their bodies rock and sway, their head slowly dropping lower as their energy dwindles. Their body starts to sag, hanging from their hands, which hold onto their bars with a death grip, all while you wonder, “Why?”

I say, “Why?” a lot

Why do people do this? There are also the other people who will look at you as you draw level with them, they look, and you see them push down on those pedals with everything they have to stay an inch in front of you. What do they hope to achieve? What is their motivation? Is there a YouTube channel secretly recording these heroics and making these people famous? Is there an annual awards ceremony where these people can win a trophy, “The Most Competitive Commuter” of the year, or perhaps the “Commuters Urgently Needing To-be Supreme” awards? Hopefully, one of these suggestions will bring us a nice anagram we can use to describe them.

Other tribes

These are not the only people you will meet on a cycle path. Now, I feel as a fixed gear rider with no brakes, a lack of a helmet, and a disdain for red lights that, I am a hypocrite for calling out others, but as I’m in a judgemental mood, I am going to and be happy with myself for doing so.

  • The more lights than NASA guy – This person will have so many 2000-lumen lights you will be seeing dots for weeks. Any suggestion that they should maybe be slightly duller will be met with derision. The fact that oncoming cars are swerving all over the place because they have blinded the driver will be completely oblivious to them. They will feel a moral superiority over everyone and will undoubtedly live in a house alone, and still be wearing their hi-vis as they watch telly.
  • The Brompton guy – Should have bought a real bike and possibly a closet Tory.
  • The 3 million headset spacer guy – “It’s for my back,” all while having to curve their spine backwards to reach their bars. The worries of a fork steerer snapping is for other people. They will also tell you that they used to be an engineer and know what they are doing.
  • The fork backwards guy – “If the fork wasn’t meant to be this way, then why did they put the bike in the box that way.” This would be a question from a normal person, but these people mean it, and they are completely oblivious to the fact the front wheel of the bike, handlebars, pedals, and seat and seatpost were all not attached to the bike in the box, so obviously they don’t need to be attached.
  • The winter bike guy – Wilfully ignores the fact that his bike is dangerous due to wear and tear. Calling it a “winter bike” means the normal maintenance rules don’t apply.
  • The guy commuting on a mountain bike – “It’s the comfiest bike.” This is a lie.

Have you noticed that these people are all guys? I’m sure there is some evolutionary reason for why men all make dumb decisions despite a wealth of information telling them why they shouldn’t do whatever crazy thing they are doing. Anyway, I’m off to go and ride the tracklocross bike through some woods.

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