Oh please, not again.
I intend to protect the right of any adult cyclist to be stupid. Even if that includes me – you see I’ve been chasing folders again. I am like that dog, barking madly, in pursuit of a motorbike. I wouldn’t know what to do if I caught it.
Stopped at one of a thousand lights on the mall, a cyclist missing what any sane person would call a proper bike rolled up on his comedy wheels. I did a quick double take and yes:
Randomly assembled mechano built by an autistic child?
Expression of constipated righteousness ?
Hint of cheese
Bicycle clips, major hair even under pink helmet, bumps in all the right places?
It was a bloke this time and he’s away like a misshapen welding accident when the lights switch.
Great. Bloody Groundhog Day.
After 100 tough miles in the last week, my legs have all the latent power of a small trifle. I’m not going to chase him. I’m really not. I cannot be arsed. I have nothing to gain and the final shreds of dignity to lose. So leave it, ok?
Imagine then my surprise as he rocketed backwards as if caught in an unseen tractor beam. This space age technology is brought to you through the power or TrifleLeg™. And yet what little energy summoned from the reserves of the mildly annoyed was wasted as the next light burned a hard red. He coasted up beside me with a smug little smile on his face matching his stunted steed. On closer inspection, he was riding what’s euphemistically known as a “performance folder”. Which is patently bollocks in the same way as Sainsbury’s manufacture a “performance shopping trolley” or referring to my ample midriff as a “performance gut”. I mean, really.
“Marketing really works then“, I offered nodding my head in the superior manner of a bloke owning a bike with adult proportions, “it’s not like a real bike is it?”. Lights changed and we’re off with my creaking bottom bracket competing with my knees and him trying to look racey on the Emperor’s new pig iron.
On this went up Constitution Hill, each of us ‘taking the wind’ and then powering past trying to hide hyperventilation with a knowing and – by now – rather desperate smile.
I stole a few bike lengths through an outrageous violation of at least half the highway code but Triumphant Arch brought us together again. I just couldn’t shake the bugger and was convinced he was doing something dastardly with string and pulleys. But let’s be clear here, this wasn’t because he was fitter or more skilled than I – no he was blatantly cheating with stiff shoes and SPD’s. I can’t believe that’s still legal in this Nanny State we live in.
Like two gunshot wounds through my heart, he clipped in and raced across the Arch like a proper cyclist except on his lad’s bike. Teeth drawn back in a rictus grin, we were so busy racing, we failed to notice an elderly tourist couple perambulating idly in the Spring sunshine. In a moment of shared responsibility, we broke apart and flowed round them – still maxed out, one either side – like a river over an unseen rock. I know now the Chinese for “fuck we’re going to die and I need to tell you that I slept with your sister but it didn’t mean anything“. Death by spiky pedal narrowly avoided, they collapsed onto the floor clearly in need of a strong drink. No problem Ken, happy to be an ambassador for London – let’s do lunch.
Separated by an elbow width, we ran the lights on the North East corner and fling the bikes hard right into Hyde Park. But my legs were dead, fit only for embalming, in fact my entire body was totally fucked and I just had to stop. Had to. But I couldn’t, I wanted to win just a little more.
“Please turn off, please, please, please“, I, er, pleaded, but no he’s hooked up on my rear wheel and soon pulls along side breathing hard. “Goes pretty well, these little stupid bikes eh?�”I observed through a gurn of pain “you must feel a right prat tho“. Well that was the end of our temporary amnesty as his eyes flashed with anger – Biter! With an obvious effort, he’s gone for maximum spin and began to pull ahead but representing the 26inch class, I couldn’t let that happen. Like racehorses straining for the line, we’re neck and neck with 300 yards of park separating the winners from the also rans. He nudges ahead once more so I stand up and strain every sinew in one final effort with muscles burning up like the Shuttle on re-entry. He looks across and grins “Not. Bad. For. A. Fucking. Folder. Is. It?“. And then finally, thankfully, ohgodyes, it’s over. He’s peeled off onto the Bayswater Road – still racing – but I’m not going that way. In fact I’m going nowhere fast.
“I’d have had you. Any time I wanted. I was just playing with you you half biked freak” I tried to shout but it came across as an asthmatic whisper. He responded with a wave – well I think it was a wave, it had fingers in it.
Only when he’s completely out of sight do I collapse in a spent heap waiting for death or an oxygen tent whichever comes first.
I honestly don’t know who won. I’m pretty sure it was me. More than sure, almost certain. Anything else would be a statistical anomaly. No way I could lose twice to a folder. It’s like lightening, once is unlucky, twice, God hates you.
When I’m the ruler of the world – and it’s only a matter of time, the first order of business will be to fry every folder and their bloody supercilious riders. Slowly. And maybe I’ll add some scorpions as well.