Forgive me Cyclists, for I have sinned. It has been two weeks since my last sedate commute.
Yes, I admit it. I have once again fallen foul of the urge to race every cyclist I see on my commute. Picture the scene, Yours Truly mounts his steed and rides out from Fuzzy Towers with the intention of having a gentle bimble through the early morning mists. I ride through Marlow full of the joys of being on the bike when, in the distance, I spy what turns out to be my equivalent of the red rag waved at a bull- BLINKENLIGHTS! I try to ignore them but it is useless. There is a cyclist ahead of me who I just know has looked round and seen my own BLINKENLIGHTS. I can hear their thoughts in my head "Bike behind me. Must NOT get caught by the bike behind me. Must go faster!". Before I know it, the race is on. I drop a cog at the back and start to work harder, closing the gap between us. Sometimes the gap closes slowly because the cyclist ahead is powerful and a worthy opponent. Sometimes the gap closes rapidly because I am so awesomely powerful but the gap ALWAYS closes. This can create a quandary for my prey. When they look back to see how much they have increased the gap between us by, what do they do when they see me gaining on them. Some of the commuters I race are made of stirling stuff and accept that I am going to blow them into the weeds, so acknowledge defeat by returning my greeting as I pass. Others however are weak losers. They see me gaining and start looking for the next side road to turn off, as if that was their true route to work or home. I know what is going on however and revel in my glory as I see them bail out. Once the pass has been made, I continue on, arriving at work or home with the glow of victory in my mind. I AM INVINCIBLE!
That is how the scenario plays out in my head anyway.
What is probably more accurate is that the BLINKENLIGHTS I see ahead are attached to a bike being ridden by someone far more mature than I am and who probably couldn't give a damn if they get passed by another bike. On the occasions when the other rider is as juvenile as I am and gets sucked into commuter racing mode, the process is probably far different. A couple of days ago, the BLINKENLIGHTS ahead were attached the the back end of what looked like a top end hard tail mountain bike. As usual, I was riding G G G G Granville so got down on the drops and accelerated past. A minute or two later however, MTB man accelerated past me, giving me a nod as he did so. That was it. Race was ON! I tucked in behind and followed for a few minutes then put the hammer down, blasting past him. I stayed ahead for a good 5 minutes but, as we were riding through Bourne End which at that time of the evening was very busy with traffic, MTB man came into my peripheral vision passing me on the pavement (sidewalk in American). he glanced at me as he passed and I could tell that he was gloating, thinking how strong he was overtaking a racing bike on his hard tail. I was ready for him though. I thought right back at him "Racing Bike? Racing Bike? This is a Touring Bike AND it has got loaded panniers on it!" I was passing him again as I thought this at him. I finished the communication with "Shove that in your pipe and smoke it mate!". We duelled like this for another couple of miles, neither of us willing to give quarter. The race was interrupted however when we got to a large roundabout. we both had to stop and wait. It was at that time that we both realised the folly of our ways. "Alright mate?" I said to MTB Man. "yeah, I'm good. Nice to have company."
The traffic cleared and we both pulled away, full of the warm glow of a shared experience. I started to chuckle to myself, thinking about how stupid we were, letting ourselves get carried away like that. All we were doing was riding home. No one was racing. We were just riding home.
MTB Man still bottled it and took the first available junction because he KNEW. I was too strong for him. As for me, i was just toying with him, being nice to lull him into a false sense of security. if he hadn't have bottled it, I would have done him good style on the road into Marlow!