Who’s The Victim?

A decent-length road ride with Charli – an unusual combination as she normally prefers to ride off-road.

Somewhere off near Shurlock Row we were passed by an old couple in some small nondescript car. As they overtook he leant on his horn. He didn’t need to. We’re considerate riders – we’ll ride single file unless there’s plenty of room / plenty of visibility. We weren’t holding him up.

It happens very, very rarely but every now and then you’ll get someone like that – someone who appears to be annoyed just by the fact that you’re a cyclist on the road.

They are, of course, arseholes, but that aside …

If you read cycling-related comments, letters, blogs and what-have-you, incidents akin to this are often related and it feels to me to be all too common to perceive the cyclist as a victim, actual or potential.

Obviously, whether you’re hit by a car or some old crone leans on his horn as he overtakes, you’re on the receiving end – so yes, technically I guess that makes you the victim.

However, physical injuries aside, today’s little episode made me wonder about the whole victimhood perception. After all, it’s the driver who’s the uptight, unhappy one, not me or Charli. We might be on the receiving end of his sad little frustrations, but in the big scheme of things, he’s the victim – of life. We’re out there enjoying ourselves.

If we – cyclists – want to promote cycling then we need to see ourselves more positively.

If we – cyclists –are able to see that there are better alternatives to up-tight lives, then a solid step would be to start actively promoting the perception that it’s the unhappy and frustrated who are victims.

Just Plain Dumb

A short ride in a hectic day – a ‘leg-turner’ to get some fresh air.

Near Wargrave and heading home I could see a heavy shower coming. By the time I was on the A4 it started. I pulled over and tried to shelter from it under some trees but they were quickly saturated as it was pelting down. I gave up and got back on … and by Charvil it was pretty well dry. I felt a total fool. I was riding into a westerly and heading west. Rather than try and shelter I should have just ridden on through it – through to the other side of the shower, to where when it had passed over it hadn’t even been raining. It was a shower cloud blowing in my direction: which bit of that couldn’t I understand? Sometimes my own stupidity amazes me.

Through every built-up area I went through – suburb or village – I saw instances of children with grandparents. As is so often the case, I have no statistics, no historical data to call on, and I don’t know where I’d find it if I wanted to look, but it seems to me this is becoming ever more common. Whether it’s an indication of recession and people needing ‘free’ child care, or whether it’s more accurate to say it’s an indication of people feeling they need to earn so much more than hitherto, to buy all the things that we’re all told all the time are essential ingredients to a ‘good’ life, I don’t know. Perhaps it is just down to a shortage of child care facilities.

Perhaps it’s just something that’s cropping up during these summer holidays because this year fewer holidays are being taken. I don’t know if that’s true but that’s the anecdotal version of events I’m hearing repeated quite a lot – but it’s always someone saying it about someone else.

Let’s imagine that is true and staying at home is more common. Perhaps that’s a good thing. That possibility shouldn’t be discounted – holidays are up there in the list of ‘most stressful things’. Just because we’re sold them doesn’t make them good. Maybe staying at home makes more people happier than we’re all led to believe.

Thanks to the driver of a large blue BMW near Shurlock Row for his or her consideration as I dithered; and hello to the very cheerful chap with his dog near Wargrave. And I hope the woman near Hurst who’d interrupted her bike ride to feast on fruits in the hedgerow was enjoying herself as much as she appeared to be.