big question - bit off-topic

i need your help drivetribers ... my dignity, sanity and marriage are at stake

I'm not going to go on about my spot of bother on a Swiss hill again, so don't worry. It is, however, as a result of it that I really, really need your help. I've been told by the doctors that I'm unlikely to be able to go running for a year and a half. No big deal if you are, say, Jeremy Clarkson or James May: Telling them they're not allowed to go running would be like telling a normal person they're not allowed to stick forks in their eyes. But I like running.

I'm not remotely competitive, I've never run a marathon and you could probably keep up with me without breaking out of a steady walk. I run simply because it keeps my head straight. If things get stressy at home, my wife will lob my running shoes at me and order me out. Not any more though. And the alternative?

Those same doctors have told me I'll be allowed to go cycling within a few months. Cycling. They may as well have told me I was allowed to take up the bagpipes. But I've no choice: I'm 47 years old, need exercise and can't run. So bicycling it is and here's where you can help. I have three questions:

1 The Bicycle

No, that is not my old bike. But I do need to find a new one.

No, that is not my old bike. But I do need to find a new one.

The Tour De France is on right now and they are tearing about on skinny, sharp-edged, multi-coloured devices that look like they fell out of a packet of razors. I do not want to set out onto the roads of Herefordshire on a carbon fibre weapon that makes me look like I dream I am taking on Tron in some sort of Tour-De-Galaxy with lasers.

I want a proper bicycle with mudguards and a rack for a tent; the sort of thing people would have set out on fifty years ago to circle the globe taking nothing but cheese and pickle sandwiches and a change of socks But I want it to be modern and to work well. I like modern materials and engineering, I just don't want them to be too much in evidence on a machine that shares birthdays with the steam engine. Somebody must make such a thing. Who? Tell me.

2 bicycle clothing

No. Just no. Got that?

No. Just no. Got that?

I appreciate that normal clothes do not work best for bicycling. But I don't see why the only alternative is to become yet another middle-aged bloke whose fast-spinning legs sticking out from lycra shorts look like so much sausage meat being extruded into a blender.

I am not prepared to inflict the vision of me in lycra on the county of Herefordshire, let alone subject myself to the subsequent - and deserved - barrage of abuse and retching. Proper bicycling clothes must exist. Don't they?

3 Bicycling etiquette

a typical bicyclist of today who looks a bit like me

a typical bicyclist of today who looks a bit like me

What happens to people on bicycles? Why the fury? It didn't exist when I was a kid. I could set off on my paper round without grinding my teeth or towing with me a thunderous cloud of righteous fury. I do not wish to become part of the modern wave of angry bicyclist, punching windows and snarling at vans.

I want to set out on my bicycle, have a nice ride somewhere, benefit from stirring up a few endorphins and go home. I don't want to be in the way. I don't want to annoy anyone or spark road rage. What, then, should be the modern bicyclist's etiquette? I'm happy to pull over if I'm in the way but what else can I do to ease my way through the world on two wheels without sparking or experiencing fury?

All answers to the above three questions will be gratefully accepted and properly considered. Thank you.

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Comments (960)

  • The answers:

    1) I will build you a bike. It will be finished by the time your knee's up to it. Prices are very reasonable.

    2) Wear your normal clothes, plus padding. Take a fire extinguisher.

    3) What? You've calmed down then?

    By the way; the steam engine pre-dates the 'modern' chain-driven bicycle by at least 150 years. The car and the 'safety bicycle' are pretty much contemporaneous. Weird, init?

      4 years ago
  • You should take up swimming. Very low stress in your body, and arguably better exercise because you are using every muscle in your body. Now, obviously you'd have to buy a pool that makes a wake for swimming. Cheers mate, hop you recovery goes well.

      4 years ago
  • turbo trainer in the shed. Good exercise and can wear what you want while having a cheeky pint.

      4 years ago
  • Go mountain biking. No mamils allowed and no roadie rage!

      4 years ago
  • 1. Buy a Brompton folding bike. Small wheels = more exercise. Also, funny.

    2. Wear tweed.

    3. It's impossible to get angry riding a Brompton whilst wearing tweed. In fact you'll probably start doffing your hat at people.

      4 years ago