‘My Dad says we’re safer in a big group like this because this way the drivers can see us’, remarked one of the younger participants on our latest family ride this afternoon. And it’s true that we should have been hard to overlook: seventeen of us, with ride leader and tail-end Charlie resplendent in hi vis, several little girls on equally bright and eye catching pink bikes, and everyone else possessing the normal human attribute of not being completely transparent – except, that is, when one dons, or rather mounts, the magic cloak of invisibility that is the humble bicycle.
For yes, bright and many and non-see-through as we were, we still had to perform a couple of emergency stops as first a van driver pulled out right in front of us without so much as turning his head, and then a woman started backing out of her drive, a manouevre that would have been safer had she not been completely hidden from us – as we were hidden from her – by a dense hedge.
Fortunately we were travelling at about eight miles an hour and my spidey senses are well honed and there was no real risk that I couldn’t stop my charges before anything happened except to my blood pressure (and, in fairness, to the drivers’ adrenaline levels once they looked round and finally noticed us). The ride we were doing today is a good one – it feels like a stretch for the families because we get out of the edge of town and into the countryside, and there’s a stone circle to explore when we get there.* On the whole the route is fine, as we stick to some (fairly rubbish) shared use pavements) for about 75% of the way and the rest of the roads are pretty quiet. But it only takes one or two dopey drivers to turn a pleasant, relaxing ride out into a heart-in-mouth moment. Next week, we’ll be back along the nice safe railway path for most of the ride, and I shall be the happier for it.
*In classic Bigtownshire style (motto of the tourist board: Shh, nobody knows we’re here), this sits entirely unheralded in a field apart from one small fingerpost sign all but hidden by the overgrown hedge. It’s only the biggest stone circle in mainland Scotland, after all, nothing to make a huge fuss about.