Friday, 11 February 2011


I bought a bike a few months ago.  Thirty five years in London and I could only see sense in bikes when they were doing stunts on the South Bank or leaping off ramps in a skate park.  I owned a couple of bikes over the years but they were never well used: a yellow BMX I occasionally rode around the block on; an old racer with rusty gears and a mountain bike I purchased from a Brazilian who was just about to leave the country.  I didn't feel comfortable, the legendary blend never happened - I was a man on a bike not a biker.  

Then our bookshop purchased a Piaggio Zip 50 scooter for me.  

I'd pull on my armour plated jacket, zip up the knuckle dusting gloves and slide the helmet over my head.  Every time I sat on the plastic fantastic I had one song in my head...

Yeah with the helmet on you couldn't hear how puny those 50ccs sounded.  (Think hairdryer not Harley.)  Even after de-restriction that mother just about hit 40mph but you aged noticeably getting there.  But just being on a bike in London traffic gets you into a zone.  Pretty quickly I realised that it's not about engines it's about wheels.  Four wheels or two?  All the scooter and motorbike folk were into pushbikes.  Cars?  Get out of here Clarkson. 

So I bought my bike and fell in love.  It was that intense.  Walking, that used to be my thing, the drift, the situationist derive through the streets of London.  I'd left the city and moved to the coast.  It was small.  I can walk out of town in a matter of minutes.  Pretty soon I had walked everywhere there was to walk in a 10 mile radius.  I needed to go further faster.  

Climbing on a bike is like a seal diving off a rock into water.  There is a wobble (or splash), then a moment of transformation.  On a bike the human body is upgraded instantly.  A few flicks of the thumbs, an insect click of gears and then the amplification of muscles flexing into speed.  In the top gear the only thing limiting you is your own body.  If I were fitter I would be faster.  That's probably where the trouble starts.  There's a list of books about cycling from Matt Seaton here.  There's a definite macho twang to a lot of them.  But I can't see myself getting into racing.  For me it's more about the extension of the derive.  Pretty soon I will be drifting all across Kent.  My range has increased.  I am more free.  As I said, I'm in love...


  1. Matt Seaton's list is not bad, but it sounds like you need The Supermale by Alfred Jarry.

  2. Perpetual Motion Food...Where can I score some Crow?