In the last few years I’ve become the thing drivers despise. The spectre on wheels that is The Cyclist. “Oh they’re lethal so they are I’ll kill one of them these days”—that’s what they all say and I should know, I was a driver once. I even had a Hello Kitty shammy for cleaning the windows and an old can of WD40 in the boot. I was legit. However, now that I live near Dublin city it’s miles handier to cycle, which worked out for the best because I sold my car for the money to move here in the first place. I’ve slipped into the role of cyclist quite well and I do quite like it, but I will say, on those cold, wet days you would miss the comfort of the car, the dulcet tones of Matt Cooper on the radio and the packet of crisps you’d have on your lap to keep you going until dinner.
These past few months have been dark times for the cyclist, dark times indeed.
Mornings have become a spiritual and emotional battlefield. Evenings are a test of endurance.
There’s a lot of feeling sorry for yourself and saying things like: “What is the meaning of all this?” and “Why?” and “Well now, I must say, this is an unsustainable way of life isn’t it?”
It was only a half an hour ago you said goodbye forever to another fragment of your spirit as your alarm went off, and now here you are woolly-headed and frozen, mopping up rain on your saddle with a Keep Calm it’s Crimbo tea towel.
“It’s not even feckin’ Crimbo anymore,” you sob bitterly. “And how can I keep calm? I’m sending myself eyes wide open into a kidney infection.”
Up you splodge onto the bike, world weary, preparing yourself for the seeping feeling of wet and cold as your arse becomes a Rorshach test that would most certainly be deciphered as ‘release me from this pain’.
Then there are the junctions you’re too wimpy to cycle through in the legit ‘rules of the road’ way, so you mince gingerly to the nearest pedestrian crossing, hold the wet frame between your legs, and give yourself the kind of damp thigh chafe you haven’t experienced since piddling your ninnies as a child.
And of course you can’t forget the delicious feeling of the wind and rain and cold hopping off your face. You feel like you’re Liam Neeson in The Grey and the only way to stay sane is to think about what you’re going to have for dinner and detach yourself by singing comforting songs over and over again like ‘Baby don’t hurrrt me, don’t hurt me, no more, WHAT IS LOVE? dih dih dih dididih, dih dih dih dididih’.
Then you arrive at your destination, freezing, soaked and despondent, but with back sweat Rosemary Conley would be proud of.
And who can you blame? That’s the rub. WHO CAN YOU BLAME?
First published February 2014