To the People of Newcastle: an Apology

September 22, 2011

Tomorrow I leave Assen for Amsterdam, and from there to my ferry home. This means I have to get across Newcastle to the train station on my bike, having quite lost my UK cycling instincts – you know, those things that keep you alive when everyone is trying to kill you. Three days of blissfully stress-free cycling will do that to a person, I find. The Dutch have awesome bike handling skills, in that they can swerve around a dithering English cyclist without really breaking off from updating Facebook on their phone, but they don’t have the sort of paranoid sensibility required to keep oneself alive on the UK roads when you’re only one misjudgement away from being a statistic. I really do worry that I’ll roll off the ferry and right under the wheels of a bus, having got used to being in a country where bikes are everywhere and drivers are polite to the point of giving way to them when they don’t even have to.

Fortunately, Twitter and the Newcastle Cycling campaign will be springing into the breach once more, with a couple of them meeting me off the ferry on Saturday morning. With one leading the way in front, and one riding sweep behind, hopefully they will be able to keep me from leaving too much of a trail of chaos and destruction in my wake as I cycle blithely along assuming that side streets give way to cycle paths, that car drivers have seen me coming and will stop, and other such mad assumptions.

Just follow the sound of honking horns and squealing brakes and there I’ll be …