Knights in White Lorries

August 11, 2017

Ah, the glamour of a cycle campaigner’s life as I spent this afternoon cycling into Bigtown in the invisible drizzle* to see whether the detour signs for a temporary path closure that the council had assured me had been put in place, had been put in place.**

lorry jam

I ended up standing in the dreich smirr (or possibly just the dreich, as it had eased off by then) looking at the interesting logjam of fairground rides that had developed at the park entrance, with the giant lorry at the front neither able to move forward to deliver its load, because someone was being bureaucratic at the barrier entrance, nor able to back out again because another lorry was now queuing behind it. And it was just as I was wondering how I might manage to squeeze past onto the bit of the path that was still, technically, open when the very apologetic driver came running up, saw my dilemma, picked up my bike – pannier and all – and lifted it over the wall for me so I could go on my way.

This follows on from the genuinely helpful white van man I encountered a couple of days ago who, while managing to make it clear that he understood that I was Perfectly Capable Of Doing It Myself, helped me replace a tyre (and by ‘helped’ I mean just put it back on in approximately 35 seconds without resort to tyre levers, swearing or bursting into tears of frustration and rage) under the guise of lending me a track pump.

Obviously, while I was grateful on both occasions, I am always a bit conflicted when this happens. It’s not that I object to offers of help, be it from men or from women, especially if they are genuinely helpful. It’s just that I do like to think that, after all these years of cycling and actually mostly navigating myself safely from A to B, sometimes even without detouring through C, D and E (and even managing to fix my own punctures given enough time and a following wind), I would give off an air of competence and self-sufficiency on the bike.

Clearly, I’m not fooling anyone.

* the kind of very fine rain that is invisible to the forecasters and the rain radar but sadly all too present to the cyclist passing through it. I believe the Scots classify it as somewhere between ‘dreich’ and a ‘smirr’…

** Apparently they *had* been put in place but they had since mysteriously vanished, obviously removed by the same shadowy Bigtown gang who spent all last summer removing cycle detour signs during a bridge closure. These dastardly desperados always strike in the hours between the council swearing blind, cross-their-hearts, this-time-they-mean-it that they have put up sensible detour signs and me going and checking.