Saturday, 19 April 2014

Just like all the rest - but different

In July the Tour De France is coming to Cambridge, and a great many people seem to be getting a bit excited about it. So much so that cycling appears to be going through something of a surge in popularity, with a noticeable increase in the number of budding yellow jersey wearers out on the road. This always happens when there's a big sporting event. When Wimbledon is on, lots of people get all enthusiastic about tennis, go out and buy an expensive tennis racket and go off to join the local tennis club; then once the fuss and hype is all over the racket gets put on top of the wardrobe to gather dust.
Not being of a particularly sporty persuasion I don't tend to suffer this affliction, but I suppose it would be easy for an outsider to get the impression that maybe I am - especially when I pick up my new bike next week when people might assume that I've been caught up in the whole Tour De France thing.
The point though is that for the sort of riding I'm aiming for, the bike I have is a bit of a blunt instrument - a bit like trying to use a shotgun for sniping - I just felt I wanted something a tad lighter and quicker. Taller gearing is needed as the days when I was able to make my legs thrash around like two-stroke pistons have long gone, and it's frustrating to be in top gear and run out of revs when you know you could be going quicker. Hence the choice of a road bike which I know will mean having to be extra wary of potholes, but I figured the upsides outweigh the downsides.
One downside I'm very conscious of is the whole lycra-clad dickhead element who have a tendency to give cyclists as bad a name as the suicidal fuckwits who proliferate Cambridge - the ones who ride flat-out at night through red traffic lights on a black bike with no lights wearing black clothing and big headphones.
Lycra gear is very good at its job, but I just don't want to be associated with those people in the same way I don't want to drive an Audi and it be assumed that I'm a complete road-rage demon buzzing on coffee and stress.
The padded shorts are pretty much essential, but I think the best ploy is to wear them under something rather less figure-hugging. Lycra shorts look OK if you're a pro cyclist with thighs like a thoroughbred race horse, but on a skinny middle aged numpty like me they'd look ridiculous.
So it's off to Sports Direct for a cheapo pair of three quarter length shorts and a couple of bright tee-shirts and quite frankly that'll do. I know it will ensure that the lycra-clad club will look upon me with disdain but I see that as something of a bonus. Although deliberately doing things that many would consider to be unusual can be immensely entertaining, much fun can be had by doing something that lots of other people do, but doing it in such a way that it sticks two fingers up at the elitist elements. Whether it's riding a road bike wearing baggy clothes and being considerate of other road users, driving an Audi within the speed limit and keeping the correct stopping distance ahead, or serving a full English breakfast where not a single item has been fried.