Sitting in the cafe this weekend on a local ride, the conversation turned to whether we should go back the way we had come, or take the more direct main road. The way we had come meant a long and fairly steep climb into a headwind, and on a Saturday at least the main road wouldn’t be infested with timber lorries, although it still would mean fast and fairly frequent traffic. We were swithering until someone pointed out
‘Of course, the main road would mean going single file’
Well that settled it. As far as I’m concerned, the whole point of riding out in company is riding side by side so you can chat. The ride out had been wet and windy and not in any technical sense of the word pleasant, but with a couple of like-minded companions it had at least passed quickly. I don’t get nearly enough time spent riding with others so I had made the most of it. I can’t even remember everything we had talked about – the joys or not of chopping vegetables, the guilty pleasure of a good battenberg cake (somehow the mind always reverts to food) – but it was enough to take our minds of steadily dampening gloves and frozen toes.
There aren’t many traffic lights or pavements around here, so when people choose to tell me about the sins of my fellow cyclists (because I am their queen, of course, and I am responsible for their every crime) it’s always, but always, about them riding two abreast, despite the fact that it’s perfectly acceptable in the Highway Code. If I can be bothered I try and explain that sometimes it’s safer – and even easier – to pass a compact group of cyclists riding in pairs rather than in a long line that takes longer to pass, and besides if there isn’t room to overtake them safely as if they were a car you shouldn’t just squeeze past them as if they weren’t there, and blah blah blah, but the truth is I know that when you see a pair of cyclists out there riding side by side, they’re not really doing it because it’s safer. No, they’re having a blether, probably about cake, and a jolly nice time of it they’re having too, even if it is raining. And if that just makes you jealous because you’re stuck behind them in your lonely car with nobody to talk to, then maybe you should join us.*
* I should probably say now, before someone explodes with rage, that we always single up when a car approaches, unless we’re riding with younger children