On the train - Bike Magic

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On the train

On the train into work

I haven’t yet reached the level of fitness I think I need to get to work, and I will not clog up our already over-crowded rush-hour carriage by riding the quarter of a mile to the station, loading the bike into a space that would normally accommodate three, seated, elderly ladies, then ride another quarter-mile to the office so as I can impress my colleagues with my vast reserves of stamina!

Sorry, but it’s a subject that I have very strong views about!

If you’re going to use the bike to commute, then use the bike to commute. If you have to use the train, then at least have the good grace to take up only one seat! There are, very likely, going to be people on that train that are going to be in need of a rest at the end of a very busy day (and some, like me, who need to sit down for a while to get over the shock of starting the day!)

As you may have guessed, I have just arrived home after a very frustrating day. Bloody computers, bloody office managers, bloody Year 2000 Compliance meetings. “What contingency plans have you made, Paul, in the event of your system failing to rollover?”

Ha! I work as a designer/typesetter and I build computers for fun.

“Well,” I reply. “I’ve double-checked the paper stock on the 8th floor and my pencil collection still fits my pencil sharpener. As for the rollover – yes! All the PCs will probably rollover and play dead, which will not affect me because I’m the only person in the building using an Apple G3 PowerPC and they don’t suffer from this problem!”

“Ah, but…” I, personally, hate that phrase. “What if the network goes down?”

“I, personally, couldn’t give a twopenny-stuff because I am specifically barred from connecting the Mac to the network because our MIS people are afraid of it!” (I wouldn’t have a Mac for home use, though! Not enough games available.)

I throw in this little interlude, on a page dedicated to bikes because I reckon that most people accessing a web-based cycling magazine are more than a little bit familiar with PC technology.

Arrived at the platform this evening, to find the usual crowd, plus a trio of little old ladies, along with "Mr-Look-At-Me-I’m-A-Cyclist", I was astonished to find that our train had arrived on time. Less than astonished to find that "Mr-Look-At-Me" elbowed his way to the front and promptly took three seats out of commission for his bike, THEN WENT AND SAT DOWN in the main passenger carriage!!!? I also elbowed my way in (I’ve been a commuter for about ten years now), past the pushy bastard who always arrives last on the platform and always gets on the train first. There’s more than one of us that have made it a personal goal to actually prevent him from getting on the the train at all! In fact, one or two would actually like to push him under it!

Please, don’t get me wrong here. After ten years of wearing my backside to the bone in the office, I consider it my duty to get on the train as quick as I can, blag a seat, simply so as I can offer it to the nearest old lady I can find. (Sometimes it’s old men – but that’s my problem and you don’t need to hear about that!) That’s the way I was brung up, I suppose…

Two "Lager Louts" then got on the train, just as the doors were closing. "Great," I thought. "Just what we all need to finish off a perfect day!" I couldn’t believe it when they singled out "Mr-Look-At-Me".

"Eyup! Spider-bollocks! Is this thy bike? If it is, we’re gunna pull it apart an chuck it out the winda a chunk at a time until tha gives thee seat up for one o’ these old lasses ‘ere!!!" They were big enough, and in the right frame of mind to carry out their threat (and from Barnsley).

There were rapturous murmurs of approval from behind several newspapers. Faced with the weight of such public censure for his anti-social actions, "Mr-Look-At-Me" had no option but to comply (though I think the opinions of the two guys with rippling foreheads had something to do with his decision). Unfortunately, by this time he had lodged in the minds of a large number of the travelling public, a bad example of the type behaviour they can expect from cyclists. We already have a huge problem with the arrogant sods who ride through red lights, even at pedestrian crossings, and use the pavements and pedestrian precincts as bridleways!

Since sitting down to type this up I’ve started to ask myself why bother. Cyclists, it seems, have a bit of an image problem. The ones who do their bit for the environment are generally ignored by the majority of road users (I’m sure we’ve all had near misses at some time) and the "Lycra-Louts" are not doing anything to help the public perception of our chosen form of transport. There’s talk of the introduction of spot-fines of £20 for riders as young as 12 if they’re caught on the pavement!

Bit of a dilemma for me as a parent, because there are times when I prefer my children to ride on the pavement. However, this is only on the short bits of largely pedestrian-free road that we have to use to get to our favourite bits of bridleway. These stretches of road are notorious for ignorant, back-to-front-baseball cap, Ford Escort drivers, blatantly ignoring the speed limit. (I suppose it’s easier for a beat-bobby to spot-fine kids in the shopping precinct than it is for him to leap out in front of Ford Escorts travelling at 60-odd miles per hour on a suburban highway!?) If my two girls accompany into town for the Saturday grocery run, then I insist that they dismount in fairness to the mass of pedestrians milling about.

To be honest, I’m not sure where this little missive is going. I suppose I’m just getting a few things off my chest. I’m going to end now before I burst something.


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