19 April 2015

Missionary Position Cycling

Lying down on the job
It is a pleasure to say that Aiden has managed to get over the problems he encountered shortly after purchasing his recumbent. So much so that on what was a gloriously sunny Tuesday earlier this week, I accompanied the laid back rider for the first time on a ride up to Chasewater.

It was an experience, not always pleasurable as I also bore witness to his virgin tumble and although there wasn't blood everywhere, there was enough to soak a hanky.

I decided to ride at the rear, I could see him and via his mirrors, he could see me even when I was miles down the road/tow path. This proved interesting when vehicles gave me the usual cursory one foot clearance when overtaking only to slow down dramatically when they caught sight of the unusual cycle in front of me and then proceeded to wait to overtake when there were no oncoming vehicles, giving Aiden full lane clearance. All except two. For some reason the majority of Audi drivers like to live up to their stereotypical reputation for being the most inconsiderate drivers on the road and therefore never cease to disappoint. The other was a driver of a van owned by local company SPV who between the junctions of Westbrook Avenue and Station Road on Paddock Lane Aldridge (a huge distance of maybe 100 meters maximum) decided to overtake me with a few inches clearance just before the junction where he had to stop to give way, only to slam on his brakes when spotting Aiden virtually forcing me up the kerb. SPV, you don't ask how your company vehicles are being driven. Cam't think why!

Potholes are bad for cyclists but they are positively lethal for recumbent cyclists. The amount of potholes however is decreasing at present  due to the imminent local elections. It is the only time I see them disappear as opposed to open up with ever increasing depth through the rest of the year. Thanks to Aiden being upfront I was able to anticipate the few remaining dangerous potholes well in advance.

The one thing though that I was able to observe with a smile, was the unanimous reaction by ordinary folk but particularly schoolboys and young men on seeing a cyclist doing it in the missionary position: hilarity. Without fail, everyone stops and looks, young children point, young women giggle but schoolboys and young men feel the need to stop, point, laugh out loud and then shout all sorts of inane comments. "Wot yow ridin maite?" is one of the publishable comments. It is good that Aiden is bringing joy and happiness to the young males of Walsall!

I have to admit that I watched Aiden purchase the recumbent with a heavy heart. I was worried that such a cycle was even more unsafe to ride on busy urban roads than a normal cycle. To a certain extent some of my fears have been allayed. The bike is such an unusual site that drivers do slow down and give more than any usual courtesy. Aiden also has the advantage with his mirrors of always being able to see what is happening behind him. What I hadn't bargained for was the opposite reaction from fellow cyclists. With one exception, throughout the ride, all of them forced him into bushes, walls etc along the canal, not slowing down, not giving some leeway. Cyclists, it is much harder to  BEGIN cycling on a  recumbent than it is on a conventional cycle, so if you see someone doing it lying down, give way!

I enjoyed the ride, I loved the laughter even if it wasn't always meant in a good way but most of all I am pleased that Aiden is once again enjoying cycling. The problems with his arm and his back melt away when he's doing it missionary style. So far, he's adapting well. Long may he do so.

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