Wednesday, June 07, 2006

A cautionary tale

Be afraid, be very afraid.

[T]his is how it happens: you start on a sit-up-and-beg bicycle and you are happy to wear clips around the cuffs of your trousers and an old anorak to keep out the rain. But pretty soon you see the need for a bright green jacket with reflective patches and a helmet - something you would have rather died than wear five years ago.

And then your bicycle is stolen. By now you don't know what you would do without one, so you march into the nearest bicycle shop and are happy to be talked into an upgrade. £500? But think of all the money you'll save, you tell yourself.

Once you have a new bike then you don't want to be faffing about with bicycle clips, do you? You want a pair of dedicated cycling trousers and special shoes and then some strange glasses that you know make you look like a giant insect but you don't care because they are for cycling.

After that it is a pair of fingerless gloves, cleats on the bottom of your shoes and Lycra padded shorts. And once you have all this - and you've spent all that money on a second new bike - it seems silly to use it just for commuting. What about a longer ride? A longer ride leads to even longer rides and even more expensive clothing and pretty soon... you are petitioning your friends and family to sponsor you to cycle to Dover and then on to Le Touquet in France, for reasons that you cannot quite put your finger on.[]

Well, that is my story. My name is Toby and I am a cyclist. And to those thousands of you who are taking it up, let me warn you what will happen next. I want you to think of the extremes that lie ahead, like the one I have just been through.

I'm sure it was those lycra biking shorts that did John Kerry in.

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