November 17th, 2010

Ride in all weather and you will be adored

A run of wet weather here in bicycle paradise, Newcastle Australia, has reminded me how quickly cycling can slip from bliss into misery. The architectural writer/cylist Reyner Banham found driving strangely amusing, and in the 1970s described his hour behind the wheel each day in Los Angeles as his quality time with himself. The fluidity of traffic back then provided divers a meditative dance, like doing Tai Chi. These days, gridlock makes driving more like Sumo Wrestling, with someone much bigger.

I find cycling to work far more uplifting. But even with my waterproof pants, jacket and socks, having to ride in hard rain is a pain. Why? Because of the cars! In heavy rain they start skidding and swerving, in such a way as to render even the footpath unsafe. I end up riding home by an even more circuitous route, just to ensure I'm not hit. Yet I maintain I am still the safest commuter. At least I am aware of the danger, and keep clear of it. Cacooned in their cans, the drivers have no idea they are flirting with death.

There remains only the problem of cycling, in the rain, not seeming beseeming. "Behooving moving that aint," you might say from your car, seeing me clumsily bumping around on footpaths to stay out of your way, my wet weather pants clinging like shower curtains onto my legs. You poor, pathetic, misguided fool. Separate studies have found cyclists to be the most desirable sportspeople to the opposite sex, and, architects the most desirable of all the professions. Non architect drivers, spare me your pity.