Somewhere is this crowded, dirty capital city, I lost my commuting mojo. I am continually losing stuff nowadays; keys, sunglasses, one glove, the plot – what Americans call “having a senior moment“. I like to think that, in fact, it is because my mind is too highly trained for the minutiae of life, and aside from being a wheeled Alvin Stardust, it’s not really much of a concern.
But this was different, it crept up on me starting with a certain listlessness before rapidly escalating to failing to race when challenged, and not hissing at Hinged Harry And His Bicycle Clips. I used to love commuting but it has been on the slide since that chastising incident involving the simultaneous awareness of a red light and an angry policeman. Lately I’ve been looking for excuses not to bother – even contemplating a return to the horrid tube.
Commuting without competing is boring – if I’m not racing, I’m trying to slash half a second off a virtual time trial or improve my trackstanding or some other such nonsense. And for competition, you need to have your muscles spiked with white hot anger, driven on by rage and sustained by a certain bloody mindedness.
Tonight, I suffered what I’m thinking of as a Samuri as this seems to happen to him on almost every ride. So dickhead roars past and immediately turns left, no signal, no chance of stopping. I slam on the binders and slam into his front wing, not hard enough to fall but scary enough to trigger a solid 30 seconds of invective to his many and varied shortcomings including the one in his trousers.
And then I realised lately I’d become a little craven when faced with the daily them and us conflicts. Feeling second class, first with big wagons, then taxis, then scooters and occasionally other cyclists. Not folders tho, it hadn’t plumbed those depths just yet. But not now, the righteous fire was well and truly lit. This nearly accident was a catalyst converter putting me smack bang back into the game. Pulling a few deep-breath-go-now moves felt good, as did sprinting between red lights, but still not running them.
I am seemingly alone in this nod to traffic deference. The police are handing out£30 penalty fines like sweets in the playground. But it’s more about crowd pleasing than deterrents. One guy tho particularly caught my attention; road bike, rucksack, lairy SPDs, half upholstered in Lycra and half in big hair. Any more “look at me” and he’d have been a ringer for Posh Spice.
He cruised through every light regardless of colour, traffic situation or pedestrians assuming a red light mean they could safely cross. My frustration was tempered by the internal radio being tuned to Top Gun “I’m not leaving my wingman” as twitching legs were desperate to give chase. The ying and yang of light sequencing gave him no obvious advantage and I finally caught him outside Queenies house. And I had a plan. Retuning to 5-Live football analogies and ludicrously comparing myself to the pint sized predator that is Michael Owen. Permanently injured, lost a bit of pace, written off by everyone and more than a little pissed off.
I got the jump with my microscopic knowledge of phasing and then slowed right down. Quick personality flip.
/Top Gun Mode on
“What are you doing”
“I’m slowing down”
“You’re doing WHAT?“*
Top Gun Mode off/
He cruised past like a smug Fozzy Bear with his skinny tyres and fat head, but like I said I had a plan; on the shoulder of the last defender, timing is everything. Curve out from the inside and sprint like a bastard giving it the big berries. He never saw me coming as I disdainfully, dispatched him into the top corner. He did see me go tho, as I cut inside a bus, sucked in elbows so not to clip the metal hedge and then skipped into the Hyde Park Traffic chaos during a five second red light amnesty.
That my frizzy friend is how you run a red light.
Somewhere is this crowded, dirty capital city, I lost my commuting mojo And somewhere in my head I found it.
* The ability to remember entire dialogue tracks from movies seen some fifteen years ago is a skill I feel I could have used more.