Sunday, 20 November 2011

Sesquipadalian inadequacies

There must be a word for people like me. Wait, not that one, you've called me that one before. No, were I better read, or blessed with a vocabulary of Stephen Fry-like voluminosity, or both, I would clearly know a multi-syllabled word that captured one of my many failings.

You see, I went out for a bike ride this morning. A perfect ordinary bike ride as it happened - a nice loop round the Cheshire Plain on back roads that I've learned and now love, 52 miles of bimbling, the highlight being a still and autumnal Tatton Park - but one that left me mournful and nostalgic for the good old days when I started cycling. I got out soon after 8, and for the first hour and a half, it was lovely; little traffic and precious few cyclists. But then, omg, wtf, etc, there were cyclists everywhere. I hadn't got caught up in an event, there weren't masses of them together on a club run, there were just dozens and dozens of them around every corner, waiting at every junction, coming in the opposite direction.

So what's the problem? This - cycling is my secret, and only a few other people are allowed to do it. Where's the fun if every other bugger under the sun is doing it too? The irony is that when I started cycling back at the end of 2002/start of start 2003 it was still a relatively minority activity, and I evangelised about its merits. You misunderstood people - just because I was evangelising about it I didn't want you to actually go and do it as well.

I completely realise of course that this is wholly unreasonable and not an attractive characteristic. It first manifested itself at school, where I'd read the music press and listen to night-time Radio 1 in the hope of picking up on slightly out-of-the-mainstream songs that I really liked. I'd then bore my mates senseless with the merits of said song, unless and until it (as a few did) made the charts. At that point it wasn't my little secret any more, and I'd feign disinterest in its fortunes.

To be fair, I'm not indifferent to the fortunes of cycling, it's just that the cliché about it being the new golf felt as though they were being borne out during my ride this morning - there were mates having chats, husbands and wives together (other partnership arrangements are available), people with flat-barred bikes, people with shorts on (on a clearly inappropriate day for it, leading me to conclude they'd spent upwards of a grand on the bike but not £30 on legwarmers/tights), and naturally some Pinarellos - all wholly unacceptable activity. I say again, I know this is my problem not theirs, but where's their connection to the grassroots? Where have they served their cycling apprenticeship? Heaven forfend, they might even see me and think I'm one of them!

I didn't start riding because it was a minority, slightly underground activity (clearly not literally, though I bet the massive salt mines near here that provide a high proportion of the stuff spread on our roads every winter are a great riding environment)), but it was like getting a plate of chips with a salad - a welcome sidedish. I've never played a round of golf because I hate the accompanying culture (at least in England; in Scotland it seems to have avoided all associations with class and social climbing), and I just don't want cycling to gather around it a similar culture. That's the serious point of this, and the only one I can come up with that even partly justifies my feelings.

Now back to the only thesaurus to find that elusive adjective.....

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