Ragtime Cyclist column


Part of the appeal of cycling is the chance to get out of the house and into the fresh air, and have a bit of time alone to think, digest, and generally mull things over.

People talk about the restorative powers of a good long ride, and the chance to get a day’s work out of the system and clear the mind.

You might argue that the same can be achieved from knocking back a few pints on a Friday night, but cycling is better for you, and won’t (usually) leave you regretting it in the morning.

Clearing the mind and reaching some lofty meditative state is the aim, of course, but if I’m honest, while I’m out on the bike the mind tends to wander and become fixated on all manner of trivial bike related thoughts.

If I’m out riding on a Saturday morning I think ‘why, oh why did I open that second bottle of Rioja last night’.

If I’m on holiday in France riding up some sun-kissed mountain pass, I think ‘just how does a man go about making a living in France, and when can we move?’

If I’m out on a balmy summer evening ride, it’s nine o’clock and 19 degrees C, I think ‘does the sun really set at ten past four in the middle of winter, that doesn’t seem right?’

If I’m half-way around a cold four-hour winter ride, my hands and feet like blocks of dead wood, and developing never-seen-before creases in my face, I think ‘just keep pedalling.

It’ll all be worth it come spring.’

If I’m riding along on a perfectly smooth road, and still something on the bike rattles, I think ‘what’s that, and how much is it going to cost?’

As I find myself negotiating Lancaster’s one-way system, I think ‘does painting the roads really constitute a cycling infrastructure?’

As I pedal grimly up some vicious 20 per cent climb in Cumbria, I think ‘flat rides, it’s flat rides for me from now on’.

Of course, Albert Einstein famously claimed to have come up with the General Theory of Relativity, one of the key scientific ideas of the 20th century, whilst riding his bike.

It’s probably fair to say I’m not quite in his league when it comes to bike related revelations.