Last night I was singing in a concert with, among other people, M the cycling hero (she of the giggling at padded shorts).
Some of us went for a drink before the concert and, as a group of motorcylists and pedallers, we soon started bitching about bad drivers, those in cars and those on two wheels. We shared stories of awful drivers and cyclists, including one particular driver who, at some traffic lights, tipped his ashtray contents out of his car window and all over M and her bike. She daintily scooped it off herself and through his sunroof pointing out that he was littering.
We also talked about cycling Tourette's. This is the involuntary and very crude swearing that comes with being nearly run over while on a bike. My response, or tic if you will, seems to be 'You motherf***ing c***'. I tend to swear a lot anyway (although rarely AT people) so I've never really been surprised by the severity of my tic but even mild-mannered M confessed to the same phenomenon of intense swearing when one's life is at risk on two wheels. I wonder if it should be registered as a condition.
The only other cycling incident of note was the Moomin care I undertook last week before Rome. Moomin (my mum) got a bike before I did but, like me, has found dad's illness is a great motivator and is now often seen gaily gliding around Ealing in her bright yellow vest and helmet. However, she came acropper after a trip to France.
She drove to Portsmouth before taking her bike on the ferry and cycling the 20 or so miles the other end to her destination and, at the end of the holiday, cycled back to the ferry. All of this in driving rain, thunder, mud and wind. This caused an alarming grinding and ticking noise everytime she took her bike out. So on Thursday when I had the day off I went round armed with my bike brushes, scouring pads, white spirit, oil and rag bag. After pulling a field's worth of dead grass from her derailleur, cleaning the gears and chain to within and inch of their lives, white spiriting, rinsing, drying and oiling, the grinding was gone and a beautiful purring sound emanated.
My Moomin is once again, in her own words, 'silent death on two wheels'.
I shall be forever grateful to the various people who, as experienced cyclists, helped me out when I was a complete novice. It makes me sad that not everyone has that kind of help.