Getting re-aquainted with my bike in july, I remembered just how much I love cycling, despite the odd encounter with appalling cretins in ugly German cars, no doubt paid for using the limits of several dubious credit cards (I'll get to that later). I started pedalling to work once or twice a week on my old Specialized Hardrock A1 - something I now undertake four or five times a week on the bike I got myself as a fortieth birthday present. It's a Trek 7.3FX, a sort of flat-handlebar road bike and so light compared to the Hardrock that it seems to float an inch above the tarmac, even with me on board. And here's the odd thing - despite the longer route via Victoria Park, I'm always at my desk ten minutes quicker than if I ride in on my Vespa. I have no idea how.
Today, Mrs TIW and I took part in the London Skyride. With 50,000 other cyclists we enjoyed the slightly odd feeling of riding from Tower Hill to Buckingham Palace on traffic-free roads. As with the Great London Rideout, there's some sort of Nobel prize to be earned in working out how it is that despite the number and density of participants, we saw no collisions. Apart from helping one lass who'd apparently fainted, the paramedics - also on bikes - were bystanders, chatting to what must be the most polite and cheerful marshals I've encountered. Also present was Chris Hoy, looking like a human designed by Sir Nigel Gresley.
All the cycling tribes were there - the beardies on tourers, the eccentrics on recumbents, the sandal-wearers on Moultons, the families on Asda specials, the City workers on Bromptons, the Very Serious Roadies on high-end Italian carbon and the hipsters on fixed-wheel death traps. And everyone was smiling.
Even the gentleman we encountered on the way home didn't ruin our day. He turned left in his Audi* immediately in front of Mrs TIW, so close that the side of his car brushed the front wheel of her bike. He'd done this manouever - at high speed , without indicating - to travel precisely one car length. When I told him what I thought of his driving he shouted at me that he'd "punch me out". Until then I'd never seen somebody so angry that their eyes were actually popping out of their head. Despite this, I was still smiling, which made him even more angry - so we rode off for a pint nearer home. A pox on him.
* (it's the new BMW, folks)