The race is on

A cyclist passes me. Bastard.

I nearly damn near give myself a heart attack trying to catch him. He might not know it, but the race is on.

I can’t help myself.

The best races, the ones I have a chance of winning, are when the other guy hasn’t noticed me. There’s a reasonable chance I’ll kill myself in pursuit of someone who has no idea he is in competition.

“No, sorry, I didn’t notice anyone.” the last person to have seen me alive will respond. “You say he was racing me? He can’t have been, I was only in 2nd gear. You say his last words were -‘did I beat the bastard?’ How sad.”

When pressed he might vaguely remember passing some wheezing red-faced old guy a few miles back. “I’m not sure people in that condition should be allowed on the road. With all due respect, they get in the way. They’re a bit of a liability. Isn’t that what bus passes are for, to keep those old guys off the road?”

There’s an art to commuter cycle racing.

First mover advantage doesn’t exist. Even the smurfs in tight fitting lycra and filled-in wheels who go round and round the velodrome circuit in demented circles know that to take the lead before the very last minute is a not a good move.

It’s all too easy to forget when jockeying for position in the cyclists’ pen at traffic lights that it’s generally inadvisable to lead from the front. The town planner who came up with the bright idea of placing cyclists at traffic lights immediately in front of overheated motorists must have been one sick mother-fucker.

Nothing is more provocative to a driver than the rear-end view of a cyclist.

It takes nerves of steel in such a situation not to push off as fast as possible.

The second rule of commuter cycling is to tuck in close behind the leader. Let them take all the wind resistance and then pip them at the post at the very last minute, when they have nothing left in the tank. There’s many occasion I’ll be seen in the slipstream of a mother and her young children cycling to school in the morning. Just as they slow down to turn into the school entrance I will triumphantly accelerate past them, sometimes punching the air in a victory salute. I’m not proud. I’ll race anyone I have a chance of beating.

When I was ten I used to get my two brothers (then aged six and four) up early in order to beat them at Monopoly. My mother would come down to find me, her eldest son and aspirant property mogul, lording his empire of red plastic hotels and piles of pretend money over two desperately tired little brothers, both gamely playing the role of sacrificial lamb. As far as I was concerned it was win-win. They felt good because their older brother was paying them attention. I felt good because I won.

Trouble is little brothers don’t stay little. Thinking it might help promote this blog I signed up to Twitter. Currently I have 11 followers. This is significantly more than my youngest brother who only has 10 (triumphant punch in the air), but the other brother has 1,225 followers. Before any if you rush to follow him, I should make it clear that my brother tweets on weighty educational issues. Fine if you read The Times Educational Supplement, but hardly a barrel of laughs. I’m not passing judgement on the quality of his rather fine writing, but simply pointing out that we cater to difference audiences. His rather larger than mine. I need to magic up another 1,215 followers pretty quick or risk the humiliation of losing the last vestige of eldest sibling authority.

Maybe I should forget Twitter and ask him to join me on a short bike ride to the pub.

I’ll give him a head start.

    Nicky Golder
    2014-06-04 17:49:26
    "In the interests of supporting your dwindling vestige of eldest sibling rivalry, I hereby submit my application to follow you on Twitter. Thanks for the blogs - they make us all laugh."

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