Riding back from last week’s adventure, I happened across a family I knew from the village heading along the back road. Mum, daughter, granny and dog were all on foot, but the son, who I knew from the village school’s cycle trips, was on his bike – pedalling away ahead of them like a good ‘un. As I came up behind him, I rang my bell, as much to say hello as anything else, and noticed that he immediately sped up. I picked up the pace a little and pulled out to pass him, but he sped up again, head down over the handlebars and giving it everything. Were we racing? I upped the pace once more and started to pull level and as I did so I caught sight of the look on his face: half deadpan seriousness, half challenging smirk. Oh yes, we were racing all right.
At which point two thoughts crossed my mind simultaneously. One: it wouldn’t do to demoralise the poor lad by sweeping past him effortlessly as, even though I was an adult on a full-sized bike with road tyres and he was a primary school kid on some sort of mountain-bike shaped object with knobbly tyres, at the end of the day it would still be being beaten by a girl. And two: I was damned if I was going to let the little squirt beat me in a bike race.
So I did what I had to do and gave it everything too, including my best Mark Cavendish impression as I passed, complete with a sprinter’s lunge forward as I edged him on the line. And then, honour upheld on both sides, I pedalled away, without a word said.
Just wait till he discovers Strava, though.