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Saturday, 5 April 2014

Guys on bikes

"Most cyclists aren't cyclists," my son tells me, as I'm driving him to his Tai Chi session, near Byres Road. "They're just guys on bikes."

Focused on a couple of kids on the pavement, who look like they could dive into the road, my brain is fuzzy about what he's just told me, while feeling it's the kind of remark he has always enjoyed - a blend of paradox and his own sideways slant on the world.

"Have you any idea what you're talking about?" I ask, but instead of answering he starts pointing people out and classifying them as cyclists or guys on bikes. 

"It's just whether they're wearing a helmet?" I venture, after studying a few. 

"Nah, there's more to it than that," he says. "It's a culture thing. It's how seriously they're into it all."

"Have you noticed how selfish cyclists are?" I say. "The worst are those clowns that pelt along pavements to avoid traffic and don't give a toss about the pedestrians they mow down."

"I've never seen that," he says. "And I walk everywhere."

"I get it all the time."

"How many?"

"Three - once just yesterday."

"In sixty years?" he says. "They are at it all the time, then."

"They are. And every Sunday they're out on the winding, country roads down our way, driving six abreast at ten miles an hour with a queue of forty cars behind them. Selfish bastards. I'd melt down their bikes and make them buy cars." 

"You're starting to sound like a Daily Mail reader," he says. "How do you feel about immigrants, homosexual marriage and hoodie scum?"

"I love them," I say. "It's just cyclists I can't stand. Good thing is Nature has a way of punishing those who flout her Laws."

"Turn here into Creswell Street," he tells me. "Nature's Laws? Now you sound like a hippy."

"This is science," I tell him. "The human body isn't designed to be load-bearing at the crotch. There are sensitive parts down there that you press on at your peril. Male cyclists get all kinds of problems with their equipment."

"Like punctures and slipped gears?"

"Like low sperm counts and erectile dysfunction."

"Bugger," he says. 

"Not to mention nodules, furuncles and other 'extratesticular disorders'."

"I wish you hadn't," he says, squirming in his seat. "What causes these extraterrestrial disorders then?"

"Pressure and shock, according to a paper in the Lancet, which found 96% of mountain bikers had scrotal abnormalities." 

"You don't want those," he says.

"Normality of the scrotum is what we aim for," I say. "See this is why your average cyclist hates motorists. He can turn women on with his tight, lycra-encased arse, but that's all he can do. His wife is perennially unsatisfied so she's having passionate affairs with guys who keep their scrotums healthy by sitting on soft, comfy seats in cars. All that makes him a borderline psycho." 

"And this is all in that Lancet paper, is it?" he says

"I'm reading between the lines now."

"I thought you scientists chappies were supposed to stick to evidence and not make shit up," he says.

"Yeah but I'm a writer too. We have to make shit up."

"That's us here," he says. "Pull up outside the church. Hey, look at that one - cyclist or guy on a bike?"

"He's got a pointy helmet," I say. "So I'm guessing cyclist." 

"But he's wearing fancy shoes and carrying a newspaper and he just smiled at those kids," he says. All that makes him a borderline cyclist."

"Very good," I say. "You do know puns are the lowest form of wit?"

"Sorry I spoke," he says. "Don't get cranky. Gimme a bell next time you're in town.

"On yer bike," I tell him.

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