My husband and I recently took part in a local sportive.
How times have changed…
In the past (before children), we would have entered the longest route. The night before the ride we would have made sure we got enough sleep. We would have arrived early so we could start early. After the ride, we would have gone home to eat a big dinner and put our feet up on the sofa for a well earned rest.
Now, we enter the shortest route. We don’t often get out for longer than an hour so it’s hard to train for long distance. The night before the ride we were amazed to only get up once at silly o’ clock to fulfill an absurd request from a small person. We set off early to drop the children at their Granny and Grandad’s house for the day, then headed off in a rush to make sure we didn’t miss the last start time. After the ride, we picked up the children and went home to eat a big dinner, put the children to bed (repeatedly) and bake a three-tier birthday cake for the following day.
But we were cycling.
We were cycling together.
We used to cycle together every weekend. Sometimes during the week too. It was something we probably took for granted.
Since having children we do still find time to cycle, but very rarely together. We were chatting about this recently and both agreed that, when we can get babysitting, we would probably rather go for a cycle than go for dinner.
I’m not sure what this says about us apart from the fact that we are most definitely confirmed cyclists.
It was great to be part of a fairly big event with lots of cyclists on the road. It reminded me that we are part of a community of a kind. The sportive was run brilliantly and we had a fantastic day.
There was just one negative.
About five miles in I had a mechanical. Fortunately, I also had my mechanic (husband). It only took 10 minutes or so to fix so it wasn’t really a big deal.
In that 10 minutes, maybe 50 cyclists passed us. 2 slowed down and called to see if we needed any help.
We didn’t need any help so that was fine.
Except, it really wasn’t fine.
Not to my mind.
If I see another cyclist stopped by the side of the road, I always slow down to ask if they are alright. Always. Not just if they are on their own. Not just if they are on a road bike. Not just if their bike is clearly broken in some way. Always.
I do this because I would like to help. When I see another cyclist, I see somebody I have something in common with. It doesn’t matter how fast they are cycling, or how far they are cycling, or what bike they are cycling. They are cycling.
Most of the time, folk do what we did; smile and shout “we’re / I’m fine” and wave you on. This is fortunate because my good intentions are about where my helpfulness ends. I can fix a puncture, but so can most other people. Beyond that, I’m not really much help. As my husband will attest, I am better at breaking bikes than fixing them.
But it’s the thought that counts and I hang on to that.
It’s being part of a community that counts. And communities support their members to the best of their abilities.
Is it me, or are fewer cyclists offering support to each other these days?
Are fewer cyclists smiling and waving when they pass each other?
Or am I just getting old?
Cyclists, we are already a minority. Some days it feels like every other road user hates us. Let’s back each other up.
When you see another cyclist, see somebody you have a connection with. Connections are important. Connections with other people make life worth living. They are what make us human.
Smile and wave folks. Smile and wave.