Today I cycled in behind a guy dressed all in black. He could have wandered out of a dystopian, post-apocalyptic disaster movie. His bike was black, his gloves were black, shoes, hat, jacket, the lot. He was even wearing black wrap-around shades. It was not just the colour scheme that made him stand out amongst his neon yellow, visibility-obsessed road fellows, but the fact that he was wearing armour. OK, not real armour, but road armour- padded, reinforced shorts and a jacket that looked like it might have belonged to a quarterback. I've only ever seen that kit on hard core mountain bikers getting ready to do some serious down- hilling. It is designed to protect you from breaking your spine on a rock. And possibly, from the look of it, from bears and exploding trees.
This guy might have been the politest biker in the world, but he looked mean. He looked like he might intentionally sideslam the door or jump through the windscreen of anyone that cut him up. The semiotic message of his outfit was: It's war out there.
This perturbed me. It made me want to buy a bunch of out of season daffodils and fill my basket with them. To smile at every driver and let people out in front of me. Treating the commute like an everyday battle might fulfill some kind of repressed caveman instinct, but it stresses everyone else out. Cycling is one of life's sweet pleasures and I want to do it peacefully- not as if I've wandered into a game of World of Warcraft. Probably that guy mountain bikes and only has one set of gear, but it made me all the more determined to prove to other road users that cyclists are human, well-mannered and not in such a rush to get places that they forget to be kind. Even if the guy in the white van who clipped me on Hornsey Road thinks there is a war on, I refuse to join in.