Back in the decade that was the 1980’s mountain biking or all terrain cycling became the new fad. Men who shouldn’t have, like myself, donned brightly coloured lycra, bought new bicycles and sweated much more than they should have.
Up to that point cycling had been a child’s activity or a way of getting to work but the bikes themselves were pretty dull, apart from the dyed in the wool bicycles ridden by male (anorak) club cyclists. Sure we had the Chopper and bikes with tiny wee wheels etc. but it just wasn’t cool to cycle.
Like most things, or perhaps too many things, some guys in the USA started cycling in a more dangerous and exciting manner. They cycled off road, not just on the dirt in general but rushing down pretty steep mountain trails at speeds, which were fairly exhilarating. They then started to build bikes that could stand the punishment and had big tyres and great brakes.
I cycled for five or more years. Normally I’d go out most evenings and weekends around 6:30 pm and do at least 8 miles, more often 12 miles and sometimes 25 miles on the road and on the dirt. I had a fairly heavy bike to start with and then sold it and replaced it with a very light and strong bike indeed.
Riding on the road taught me a lot. Like there is no such thing as a flat road and a non-windy day. I’d been a motorcyclist a number of years before cycling so I know that it was my responsibility to make sure drivers around me knew what I was doing and where I was and I think that helped me enormously.
I stopped cycling because of work pressures although I might return to it at some point.
I’m horrified by the antics of cyclists in Edinburgh. Some are fine and know how to cycle safely but the majority don’t seem to recognise their responsibility to keep themselves safe and stay within the Highway Code. They seem to see cycling as another badge they wear as part of their green and environmental credentials.
It is unusual for me to be out driving or on the Harley and not see very dangerous cycling. Very poor road positioning, riding on the pavement, cycling across pedestrian crossings to beat traffic lights, using earphones to listen to music as they cycle, carrying stuff inappropriately, going through red lights, cycling on the wrong side of the road, no lights or feeble lights, almost running pedestrians down at crossings, cycling two or three abreast, and the most worrisome – cycling up the left hand side of queuing traffic.
I’ve lost count of the number of times a bicycle has whooshed up my inside whilst I am in the process of turning left only for them to go straight on. To be fair some of the car driving around cyclists is pretty poor too. Giving cyclist 6 feet when overtaking them which means the overtaking car is in the oncoming traffic lane, getting way too close to cyclists and not actually seeing them at all.
Cyclists should need to be insured, need to pass a test of some description and need to stick to the Highway Code!