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Saturday, May 09, 2009

Silly Commuting - a guide for beginners



I mentioned to J last night that I would be blogging about the cycling hierachy and the way he and cycle-to-workers (male) go to extraordinary lengths to overtake each other.

He was adamant that he shouldn't become a figure of fun in my blog, but I insisted stoutly that he has the right of reply in the comments section.

J is obsessed about his cycling and recently used his cycle-to-work purchase scheme voucher to buy the hybrid bike of his dreams, a Cannonsdale Bad Boy. This decision was made after weeks of vacillating between the Bad Boy and the Boardman, and briefly, another brand whose name escapes me which fell out of favour when the salesman told J it was a "sit up and beg bike, not the high peformer he should be looking at".

Equipped with his new bike J has since purchased some strange and to my mind lethal shoes which attach themselves to the pedals. When he stops, he has to release his feet from the pedals. Some weird sunglasses arrived today. Then there is the fancy gold standard lock, the helmet with a prism mirror that enables him to see who's approaching from behind; shorts with what looks like a nappy in the bottom, and a whole raft of fluorescent bits and pieces, water bottles and ruc sacks of various sizes that he carries his work shirt in.

Apparently there's a known hierachy in the cycling world depending on the type of machine, the way the cyclist is dressed, how hairy their legs are, their age and the way they're cycling. It's known as Silly Commuting Racing and you can check it out here. The whole purpose is basically "to attract birds." J describes himself as an 8 and sometimes comes home cock-a-hoop having raced a 2 ("a roadie with shaved legs") and emerged the victor.

As he painstakingly explained in the King's Head last night, there are certain rules to this informal challenging. You can't go on the pavement (a relief for we pedestrians) and you can't use the traffic lights as an excuse to pull away faster. And very important, you shouldn't show any pain (unless your face looks that way anyway.)

Apparently it doesn't apply to women cyclists unless a) they have hairy legs and b) they're Nicole Cook.

I'm glad to see Gordon Brown is worrying about the cyclists on our roads, but it seems they have a kamikaze streak in their DNA. It's always a relief to me when I hear the ping of J's bell as he signals his arrival when he gets home at night.

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