Missscribbler’s A – Z of Cycling

I just read a short article on The Times website entitled “Boris Johnson’s A – Z of cycling”. The article made me chuckle and so I have compiled my own A – Z of cycling.

A – Ankles. Getting nipped by nettles when a big car pushes you into the verge on a narrow road. Also the pale and vulnerable body part that ends up catching the dirt spatters and bramble branches on rural bike rides.

B – Biker’s Bottom. A horrific infliction, soon appeased by a comfy (if very uncool) gel seat cover. However, for the duration of a spell of Biker’s Bottom you will have to suffer pain in sitting, mounting and dismounting bikes and cycling over cattle-grids. A bag of frozen peas helps a little if thrust onto the groin after a heavy-duty ride.

C – Cattle-grids. The veritable warpath of any ride. The horrible process of crossing a cattlegrid, regardless of at what speed, is never as pleasurable as you would hope bumping up and down like a pneumatic drill on heat. See B for Biker’s Bottom.

D – Dogwalkers. WHYEEEEE? Why must they walk along cycle paths with half a dozen yipping pups on the end of a spaghetti of leeshes barking at you before you’ve even tried to manouver around them? They are like the WW1 mines which look like oversized metallic conker shells. One mollecule to close and its game over.

E – EEEEEEEEEEEEE! The noise you make while bombing down hill at speed with your eyes shut praying you don’t bump into a tourist or a tree.

F – Fat Tourists. I have nothing against larger people but when there’s a family of you, side by side, heaving up the hill that veterans all know is vital to power up because otherwise the momentum goes, but no matter how much coughing or loud gear changing you do they pant and wheeze up that hill as if in some rubbish chorus line. Single file, please, people if there isn’t enough room!

G – Gravel. Skinny bike wheels are no match for this most innocent of drive-way blankets. The first couple of pedals are always a hilarious display of baby-fawn-like balance, or lack thereof. It does make brisk cornering more exciting though.

H – Helmet. Essential piece of kit and I don’t care how daft it makes you look. I know that the day I don’t wear my helment will be the day I get in to trouble so stick your oversized beatle on your noggin and pretend you’re Lance Armstrong.

I – Insects in the nose, eyes or mouth. The nose is a particularly hazardous one as in trying to blow it out it clings on for dear life in an attempt to emigrate up to your brain and lay eggs in some freakish nightmare secnario, if you are unlucky enough.

J – Jams. I.e. Jammed chain in between the chain mechanism and the bike frame. Very messy and time consuming operation correcting this. Usually occurs whilst changing gear too much on bumpy terrain. Messiness including oil on face regardless of whther or not your hands have actually come into contact with your face. Its certain.

K – Kids. Kids on bikes are infuriating as they tend to be much better at cycling than the rest of us because they are closer tot he centre of gravity, they don’t care if they end up in a pond covered in weed and they have limitless supplies of energy provided by Haribo. So on those uphill struggles where your rhythm is sure and you’re pumping those thighs like Hercules, it is very disheartening to see two little toe-rags zip by racing up the hill without any percievable effort being spent.

L – Legs. Lotsof leg work involved in cycling. Love your legs. They may be covered in nettle stings and spatters of mud byt he time you reach your destination but those legs are essential in cycling. It is very difficult to cycle without legs.

M – Morotised Granny Gears. Why would you even use one of those on a public cycle path, you’re just going to risk being spat at. However, when embarking on an uphill struggle you are the one eyed king of the land of the blind.

N – Nettles.

O – Omens. Always noticeable when cycling… for example, cows lying down – symbolic of bad weather ahead, means so much more when exposed to the elements without a waterproof.

P – Punctures. First the light hissing, then the loss of balance followed by the bike just giving up altogether and you being forced to fish out the tyre repair kit if you are of the Boy Scout persuasion, or else call a friend with a lot of boot space.

Q – Quest. Every bike ride is a little quest. be it a quest to work, a quest home for a plate of fishfingers or a quest to the shop to buy fishfingers. You are a modern day Knight on a quest.

R – Road Rage. Cyclists hate cars. Cars hate cyclists. Cyclists hate other cyclists. Lets face it, nobody who cycles for utility does it to make friends.

S – Seat Covers. Very uncool… however, essential if your daily route includes lots of hazardous terrain, see B and C. These gel bueties feel like an extension of the arse and take the edge off even the most devious of potholes. Mine changed my life.

T – Traffic. Haha! The roads are gridlocked but you can swish through back home with a very smug look on your face. Try your best to pre-empt idiots opening car doors suddenly to get out and take a look at the tail-back.

U – Unpleasantness. Comes by the bucket load with cycling, including driving over piles of horse dung, insects on face, sweat, mud puddles, chafing. Its not a life for the faint-hearted.

V – VROOOOOOM! The noise that big articulated lorries make when overtaking you. The world goes dark and the exhaust cloudls your vision and the noise is terrible, all you can think is “please don’t kill me”.

W – Wildlife. One of the many perks of cycling. Little bunnies, pretty birds, adhesive insects. They’re all there to jump in front of you causing you to spin into a bush. See N for nettles.

X – eXcitement! cycling is as much of a thrill as parachuting, if not more so! The slightest crosswind could cause you to flip onto a ditch or a single pothole could cause you to face-plant into the gravel, or if you are extremely unlucky, into another pothole. The speed, the velocity, the wind in your hair – it raises the heartbeat and the adrenalin pushes you on! And then you scrape all of the skin off the right side of your face following an unfortunate cattle-grid mishap.

Y – Yelling. Thats how people on Tandems communicate with one another and its blinking irriating. You’re on a Tandem! You are in no position to start a debate! If you need tot alk then try a pedallo or a ride on a rickshaw for a similar experience.

Z – Zzzzzzzzzz. Your reward for enduring all of the above.

There you have it, an alphabetised summary of cycling. Use it, heed it, experience it.

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