Thursday, 14 October 2010

Cycle Tribes: The Irregular Rider

Certain climactic conditions encourage this cycle tribe to come into the open- sunny days and tube strikes being the most obvious. For most of the year the steed of the Irregular Rider remains cooped up, ignored in garages, on balconies, shoved in cupboards and often, shockingly, locked outside in the elements. The Irregular Rider is hyper-sensitive to the inconveniences of cycling. They intend to use their bike more regularly, but if there is the slightest chance of precipitation then of course it is out of the question. The necessity of carrying more than a wallet, keys and a phone also rules out transport by two wheels (the irregular rider doesn't own a backpack or a pannier) as do late nights, early mornings or long lunch breaks. 

An Irregular Rider is easy to spot. If it is a beautiful warm day that has tempted the rider on to the road they will probably be wearing flip-flops. If unpredictable weather strikes the IR will be coatless, if the sun goes down they will have forgotton their lights.

They will be pedalling slowly on a bike that is deeply inappropriate, probably a mountain bike they have owned since a brief obsession at university, or the one they used to cycle round the streets of their home town as a teen. This once loved creature is a pitiful sight- the chain will be rusty, the tyres squidgy. 

These brief forays always remind the IR how fun cycling is, how good it feels to whizz past the traffic jams, to feel the wind on your face and the blood pumping in your limbs. They vow that their bike will no longer be underused, ignored, out of shape. They will pump up the tyres, clean up the chain and buy that backpack-do all the tiny chores that would make this choice easier on an average morning. 

Then they get home, lock up their poor, neglected wheels again and forget. 

When we pass the bikes of Irregular Riders in their snatched moments of freedom Trusty sighs sympathetically, knowing the happiness will be brief. I pat his flanks and promise him never, ever to treat him the same way. 


  1. I like to think that more tube strikes and more irregular riders will lead to a small increase in regular riders.

    (My pet hate 'cycling tribe' are the lycra clad, shaved-limb men who commute a mere 10 miles or so each way and think the road is their racetrack...I'm not sure what to call them...but I like annoying them by keeping up with them...a little girl in colourful tights and skirts. It really rubs them up the wrong way...hah. Lycra like that and crotch padding that heavy should only be reserved for actual club rides or training...or the track...Not the Bayswater Road...ho hum).

    The Times Online had their own little list of ten cycling tribes -->

    But I like your interpretations...keep them coming. :)

  2. There is of course the junior version of this species. They can be identified from their usual cries of "My legs hurt Daddy", "This ride is boring" and of course "Are we there yet?". These can usually be silenced with promises of cake or chocolate. The up side is occasionally one of Daddy's rides is actually fun and is remembered and talked about. Like the one where we went camping by bike....