I've been cycling to work for a little over two months now. In that time, I think I have used my car only twice, and now the idea of not biking in feels a bit weird. I probably don't need the extra exercise, but even though the nights are drawing in and it's getting distinctly nippy in the mornings, I've actually come to really enjoy that little blast of exertion at the start and end of the working day. The ride home, in particular, is a real delight: work is done for the day and I have the prospect of a nice hot shower and my tea in front of me. It's a simple pleasure, to be sure... but a pleasure none the less.
The traffic at work has been awful too, with queues snarling up the roads out of the site and into the car parks themselves. Journeys that normally take twenty minutes have been taking more than two hours. You'd imagine that this would make me feel pretty smug, but actually it doesn't. Sure, it's nice that my journey home will take the same 15-20 minutes that it always takes, regardless of the traffic, but the simple truth is that the congestion is entirely irrelevant to me and I take very little pleasure cycling past the queues of traffic out of the site. Apparently that statement only makes the drivers who ask all the more angry. Also, I may have cycled past all the queues last night, but it was pissing it down and I got drenched. Still, skin's waterproof, innit?
I was the victim of cycle rage this evening though. I was cycling down the canal to running club. It's pretty dark down there, with no lights at all. Since the clocks changed, it's obviously more important than ever to make sure that you are properly lit up. I wear a fluorescent jacket most of the time anyway, but on evenings like this, I wear the blinking armbands that I wear running, and as well as a couple of small, blinking lights on the bike on the front and back, I have a couple of bigger lights that are bright enough to see by. Being seen is good, but you actually need to see where you're going too, especially when there a bumps and holes and mooring lines and things all over the shop down there. Sounds obvious, but you'd be amazed how many people are still cycling in the pitch dark alongside a canal with no lights at all.
Anyway: cycle rage. I was cycling along the tow path, just getting to the bit where it opens up a bit as it starts to get into the centre of town. I adjusted my main front light slightly as it had slipped down a bit. Just as I was wondering if I'd got it right, a guy cycling towards me suddenly started swearing at me.
"Turn your fucking light down!" Adding a "Fucking twat" at me as he cycled past.
Now look: I get that these lights are pretty bright (although they're far from the brightest I've seen); I also get that if you get the angle wrong, then they can be pretty dazzling. I understand that. Immediately after he cycled past, I adjusted my light down a bit so it was pointing more directly at the path in front of me so as hopefully not to enrage anyone else. I get it. What I just do not understand is that level of rage. Even if I had been deliberately shining my light into his eyes and so had everyone else in front of me on the towpath, does it really merit that sort of hostility and abuse? No, of course not.
Wanker. Sorry, but it's hard to see another explanation.
Mind you, most cyclists are pretty friendly. The ones you really have to watch out for are runners. I say this with love - hell, I am a runner - but those bastards run in the middle of the path with their headphones on so loud that they can't hear your bell as you approach them and try to warn them. When you carefully come past them, they generally tut at you loudly and you can feel their hate lasers in your back as you cycle off. Seriously, what's up with that?
People, eh? Tsk.