HOME||| INDEX 2||| INDEX 3

All Fall Down
How could this have happened? I was practically born on a bike, had glided effortlessly what probably amounted to thousands of miles around the Ohio village where I grew up: delivering papers, racing to school, pedalling away the years between training wheels and four wheels.

Almost Wrath
I start worrying if the ferryman really is drunk. The question is, how badly do I want to see a lighthouse which sits in isolated splendour amidst windswept but ruggedly picturesque scenery? Is that really what's pulled me along for 700 miles, or was it the elemental joy of cycling somewhere, anywhere?

Back in the Saddle
Who knows how it happens. A thought has leapt across a synapse which for the past nine months has been a bridge too far, and suddenly you fancy a ride again. So, using global positioning technology patented by your partner, you find and retrieve your bike from the depths of your basement or garage or wherever it is you have depths.

Boneshaker
Presumably a jobbing Ghost of Christmas Present would be along shortly. I contemplated the filthy river of cars. A courier zipped past, sucked through the metal corridor, on high alert for tourists gawking at Big Ben. I took my bike for a short walk along the embankment, gripping its saddle, minutely adjusting its course as if I were riding no-handed. The Ferris wheel across the Thames turned its lazy arc, spokes glinting, a monster bicycle wheel scooping up one load of riders after another for a taste of the sky.

City of Bikes
We stopped in Bruges first. It was picturesque but not as picturesque as everyone says. We struggled to understand. We left Belgium. We came to Amsterdam.

Clearly Addicted
It started with a dream I had one night. There was a big cassette with a thousand cogs spinning dementedly. My mum was hanging upside-down from a top tube, eating ice-cream with chopsticks and shaking her head sadly while liaising with an audience of executive garden gnomes. What was bizarre about it was that she doesn't particularly care for frozen deserts. I asked her what was wrong and she whinnied like a horse but didn't offer any other comment.

Cyclists Anonymous
The only kind of companionship I could get was the sort you find advertised in phone boxes. 'Full service'. 'I'll true your wheels'. 'French mechanic'. I know what you're thinking. But it wasn't like that. I just paid them to talk. Routine maintenance, race results, tour reports. It ran the gamut. One girl specialised in urban transport issues. God, she was good. I'm not ashamed. It filled a void.

Diplomatic Immunity
Forget the most eye-straining safety vest. A cyclist is never more visible to a motorist than when breaking the law: a veritable ambassador of bad will. So I thought it might be interesting to see how many of you are scofflaws, and why.

Do You Need a Helmet?
As one of the few cyclists who doesn't hold a strong opinion about helmets, I'm uniquely qualified to help you decide the issue. But not with statistics, or by trapping you like a fly in an essay of exquisitely spun logic. I offer, instead, a simple questionnaire.

Evil Knievel
A motorcycle is, on the face of it, a great idea. Doesn't hog space on the road or in the parking lot. Abstains from greedily swilling petrol like a thirsty car. It places the rider out in the elements, closer to nature, which presupposes a satisfyingly vigorous constitution. The American folk singer Arlo Guthrie once wrote a lovely song rhyming 'motorcycle' with 'pickle', which was whimsical and brave. I could go on.

Fashion Victim
My stomach gurgled for the sweet grassy freshness of bay leaf, or the thunderous culinary orgasm that is tres sucre Pop-Tart, it doesn't matter now, when carpe diem, I leapt on my bike and Just Did It. No helmet. No gloves. Naked, really.

The H Word
If only I'd kept to the one true path I started pedalling down years ago when I was born-again into the congregation of the spoked wheel. Back then I would no more have cycled the streets of London, my newly-adopted milieu, without a helmet, than I would've danced naked in a church - unless it was Episcopalian, they seem to be more relaxed about things.

Hands Off
Who am I, alone on my bicycle, keeping my balance in an unbalanced world, cycling through the trenches every day, representing nothing but a single free human spirit, to argue?

Hello It's Me
Fiction shouldn't cause much turbulance, should it? The book stores are full of it, and it seems to sell well enough. You won't always be able to tell what's fiction and what's not, but that's a little like life.

The Hospitality Tour
This is a story about a long bicycle ride, and the people I met along the way; a cast of characters who responded to my online entreaty for hosts to shelter me and my bicycle as we travelled from Land's End in Cornwall to John O'Groats in Scotland.

Imagine There's No Petrol
Of course the well wasn't really dry; it's just that nobody wanted to carry the bucket. The behemoths that make our roads shudder and shake and flake apart (so we can dispatch more construction crews) were still. But nobody was celebrating. Except cyclists.

Like a Rolling Stone
There are stretches where I won't actually have a thought in my head, or rather, half my mind will turn into a simple but detached cheerleader for my body, chanting to my legs to keep going, you're not that tired, soothing my muscles, keeping my arms steady and true, while the other half concentrates in an intense but empty-headed way on the road ahead. It surprises me that even cyclists can get road hypnosis.

Nouveau Column
The next day a dozen strangers gathered in an anonymous room which looked suspiciously like a broom closet. Brooms haphazardly stacked outside the door added to this impression. The people stared at me as if I were mad. "No TEA?!?" one of them finally managed to choke. "You've invited us here and we're not getting any TEA!?!"

Nude Vegan Cyclist
What I'd give at times to be able to walk into a restaurant and order practically anything on the menu. And who amongst us wouldn't love to cycle on streets where 'critical mass' is nothing more than an overloaded basket?

Once Were Couriers
"I've got it!" shouted Captain Jack, springing up and stumbling towards the despatch bags. He tripped and thudded harmlessly into the pile. Everyone made it a point to look elsewhere.

The People's Survey
Through absolutely no fault of your own, momentum has introduced you to a parked car. You have, indeed, scratched it. Do you a) Leave an apologetic note with your credit card details and expiration date? b) Wait for the driver to return to remonstrate with him over his complicity in the destruction of the environment and his questionable taste in choosing a Skoda? c) Scratch the other side of the car so he'll think it was a design feature?

Please, After you
As cyclists we assume a mantle of some small grace. We're endeavouring not to be part of the problem, and find indifference or blanket hostility mystifying. However, the sins are all out of proportion to the sinners.

Sacred Folding Cow
Yes, I've seen that insane grin before. It works! You can pedal it and everything! It's clear you're impatient to spirit it away, to begin your new life. But my parents didn't raise me to be so cavalierly caveat emptor.

Through the Looking Glass
Most cyclists probably have little trouble eyeballing their reflection. Their conscience is clear. After all, two wheels good, four wheels bad, right? ~ Then why do so many of us cycle as if we hadn't left those two wheels behind? In other words, like motorists.

Urcs
An Urc is an Orc on wheels. But not all Urcs are Orcs by any means. In fact very few are. It is the few who give the vile reputation to the many.

The Vanishing
I wandered up and down the block, feeling entirely lost. Kept glancing at the rack out of the corner of my eye, unwilling to accept the truth full in the face. Stumbled home, only to race back on my wife's bicycle as if the thief would still be in the vicinity, gloating.

Written in the Stars
You will enter what you think is the 24-hour Red Bull race but which is really just a bunch of people coincidentally riding around and around in the woods all night without a clue. Nevertheless you will find yourself, happily centered and self-actualized, doing exactly what you love: getting lost. Subsequently you'll all eschew all directional aids, compasses, maps, GPS devices and advice from locals, forever chasing that happy disconnected state of never knowing or caring where the hell you are. Despite this you'll maintain a fixed address in Hull.

The X-Files
To enjoy high fidelity you're going to have to budget for speakers. True audiophiles ride in accoustical pelotons and form appropriate arrangements as a piece progresses. Earphones, on the other hand, dangerously limit the full range of dynamic sound.

Your Future Now
A chance remark by a train conductor will completely change your life, but an anonymous shop clerk will later say something which changes it back again. Your attempts to find love while commuting will come to fruition and domestic bliss will be yours for the taking if you can buckle down and learn to mend a puncture, rather than just changing the tube; if not, your searching will be in vain.