Today’s entry for Tara’s Gallery meme, is brought to you …. courtesy of the letter ‘T.’
I’ve been driving a car since I was seventeen years old … so that’s about .. *cough* .. ten years now. I passed my test second time around. All the best drivers do.
When you’re in the safety and comfort of your own car, it’s like being in your own little world. I get to choose the music, (the Riverdance soundtrack still rocks my world,) but I’m the first to admit I get a little …. ummmm …. ranty if someone drives like a numpty in a 50ft radius of my car. I may gesticulate and say things in the car that would make a sailor blush, but I certainly wouldn’t say or do those things in person. Well, most of the time.
A month ago, I decided to ditch the car in favour of a riding a mountain bike. A bold move considering I hadn’t cycled for what felt like a squillion years, let alone taking into account the whole ‘approaching middle age/overweight woman’ thing. Petrol is just too damned expensive and I heard a weird rumour that exercise was good for you. Huh. We’ll see about that.
In the time I’ve been cycling, I’ve now been told to, “Get off your f*cking bike,” and, “Get the f*ck off the pavement,” three times. I shan’t mention the particular demographic, but they all have one thing in common. Never thought they knew such profanities. I didn’t know whether to be impressed or upset.
Firstly, I feel the need to explain that, as when behind the wheel of my car, I’m a safe cyclist. Quite frankly I’m too overweight and too old to go faster than a three year old using stabilisers, and so I don’t think I’m in any way reckless. I stick to the roads as much as I can but there’s one particular road near to where I live that is just too unsafe to cycle on and so, on the rare occasion I cycle in that area, I will cycle on the pavement.
However, not only am I slow, but courteous with it. The perfect cyclist if you will! If someone comes towards me, especially if they’re elderly, I’ll go out of my way to get out of their way. I’ll stop until they’ve passed. I’ll move out of their way. Hell, if they’re lucky, they might even get a smile out of me.
Has anyone ever said thank you? Nope. Not once.
Has it been any better for me cycling on the road? No, not from what I’ve experienced. When there’s no cycle path I’ve stuck to as far left of the road as the drains and potholes will possibly allow and yet I still get the occasional motorist who thinks it’s OK to raise their arms in the air in disgust at my absolute audacity to cycle on the road.
I’ve been given the middle finger on more than one occasion, (which I very kindly gave back,) I’ve been shouted at, sworn at and generally made to feel like I have no right whatsoever to clog up the pavements and roads of my local area.
It sucks. But it’s given me a whole different perspective and better understanding of what it’s like for cyclists. And its not cool.
As car drivers, our hands are being forced more and more and it’s becoming just too expensive to drive a car. And I guess that’s the government’s plan. My eldest son is approaching the age of seventeen, the age I was when I began driving, and he’s already told me there’s no point in thinking about buying a car. He wouldn’t be able to afford any of the associated costs, let alone the car itself.
But I’ll persevere with my cycling. For those who know me, you’ll know I’m not one to be deterred from doing what I want just because people make it difficult.
I enjoy cycling, especially through my local nature reserves and parks. There’s no traffic, no swearing, no being shouted at and no being made to feel like I don’t belong.
And I shall carry on as long as my crunchy knees will let me.