LUV - I think I’m going to buy a bicycle. This has nothing to do with the Olympics. No it hasn’t. It hasn’t. Shut up.
I think I’m going to buy a bicycle because I just went on holiday and decided to ride a bicycle for the first time in about 15 years, and I quite liked it. This decision had absolutely nothing to do with Team GB’s Olympic cycling medal haul, and the fact that I happened to spend all of my time on the bike going “NEEEEEAWWWW! CHRIS HOY! I’M BLOODY CHRIS HOY! NEEEEEAWWWW!” is frankly none of your business.
I haven’t always been so keen on cycling. I never took a cycling proficiency test at school, I had an alarming tendency to fall off my bike in front of girls I liked and I couldn’t see the point of the London to Brighton race because the train station is right there and, anyway, Brighton is shit. But now? Now I can see the beauty in it.
Cycling is quicker than walking, and requires a more appropriate level of effort than driving. And you can pretty much ride a bike however you want to. Yes, you can bomb along the side of the road, but you can also get drunk and pootle through a meadow or fling yourself off a succession of terrifying ramps as well. You can’t do that in a car. Well, you can, but only if you happen to be Jeremy Clarkson, and if that’s the case you’re probably too busy being wracked by wave upon wave of desperate gnawing self-loathing about your teeth and hair and brain to bother.
So I’m going to buy a bike. I’m definitely going to buy a bike. I’ve already spent hours looking at bikes online, and I know exactly what I want. I want a hybrid bike because, while I’ll primarily be using on tarmac, I don’t want to discount the possibility of one day using it to escape a gang of vengeful Russian bandits in a forest somewhere.
I want the best brakes that money can buy, because I’m an unconfident and inexperienced cyclist and it’s very important that I can decelerate from one and a bit miles an hour to no miles an hour as quickly as possible. Also, it needs to be massive and heavy and covered in loads of bits that poke people in the eyes and face whenever I take it on a train, because that’s apparently what you’re supposed to do when you take a bike on a train.
And when this bike is mine, I’ll be a proper cyclist. I’ll buy all the gear and spend days dressing up and polishing the spokes and calibrating the height and nuzzling it and looking at it from afar with a sense of unshakable pride. Because then I, Stuart Heritage, will be a proper cyclist.
I’m not actually going to ride it anywhere, obviously. I mean, I live in London. I’d be splattered across the front of a fucking bus by teatime. What’d be the point of that? I’m not mental, you know.
- Stuart Heritage
HAT - Cycling. No. For these reasons:
1. CYCLING KILLS YOUR CHILDHOOD
Nothing – not seeing the lines etched on Philip Schofield’s face, or a moody 3D Thunder-Cats reimagining – shreds your own childhood memories like an adult stint on a bicycle.
Because, although realistically you know you can’t have been some sort of pre-teen BMX Jesus who could do giant wheelies while wearing roller-boots and riding a skateboard, that you were is a harmless lie you tell yourself to distract from the horrific gaping chasm of your own mortality.
Straddle a bike for the first time in twenty years, however, and you’ll be forced to accept a series of uncomfortable truths. The first will occur when you look down at your thighs and realise that you’re planning to propel yourself up a 60-degree incline with what are essentially two hams.
Next you will summon all your reserves of strength, push down on the pedals, and only travel four feet. It seemed so easy when you were a child because children are basically a set of well-oiled pistons powered by Haribo, and therefore perfectly suited to bicycling. You, however, are a set of differently shaped sausages powered by espresso, and the vague free-floating anxiety that you should be eating more pro-biotic yoghurt.
What you are perfectly suited to is sitting.
Finally, and most devastatingly, you’ll remember that you weren’t a pre-pubescent Bradley Wiggins at all. In fact, as a child, you used to keep the rear brake on even when freewheeling down gentle hills, you never really figured out what that sixth gear was for, you smelled of cheese and no one liked you because you always had your hand down your trousers.
2. DANGER OF DEATH
Another thing that will occur to you while cycling is that a) cars are hard and fast and deadly, and b) you are a squishy, easily-endable meatbag. This will occur to you once when you blink and almost serve into an oncoming vehicle, and then every fucking time you pass a sad collection of withered bouquets marking the sites where a cyclist was squashed to death.
Bicycle thieves. Do they walk up to railings with bolt cutters secreted about their person? Or do they ride away on their own bicycle, wrangling the spare one like a cowboy taking his pardner’s horse home after he lost in a gunfight?
5. OH FUCK OFF
I can’t breathe. My heart is a great swollen boxing glove pulsing out of my ribcage, and my lungs are two dried prunes beside it. I have sweat collecting in uncomfortable places, I cannot feel my legs, and YOU said we were “almost there” an HOUR ago. I’m getting a cab home and stopping off at the pie shop. Fuck you, cyclists. Enjoy catching Chlamydia from your bicycle seat!
- Robyn Wilder