Here's my latest effort: A confession by Samuel R. Nichols I am a cyclist. In certain circles this is a confession perhaps akin to injecting crack into one’s eyeballs, or kicking dogs for amusement. Trips to the continent always make cycling seem like a jovial endeavour: people cycle in twos, tipping their heads back gaily as they tell each other jokes that are probably some of the funniest in existence. In Britain cycling isn’t like that, it’s war on the streets; even stopping at junctions seems like a drag race. At them I pause, have a swig of water and set out again, occasionally with the fear that I’ll end up under an HGV, or accompanied by a yell of ‘get on the pavement’ by someone with more speed than sense. Much like climbers, fishermen and those who enjoy the great outdoors, cyclists are a community. We meet in pubs, or cafes; you can sometimes tell us (especially on the weekend), by the fact that our clothes are shiny and very tightly fitted. We tell tall tales, we reel off the stories of being endangered: the times when car doors open in front of us with no warning, and send us skidding across the road. We drink espresso, just like everyone else does, but we have a hardened glare in our eye. Putting ourselves in danger every day has made us inhuman. We feel no compassion: instead of pausing at the sites of car accidents, we speed up: ‘another one gone’, we think. Schadenfreude is a natural emotion for us. This morning I had an encounter. I got punched through a rolled down car window. This is what we deal with. I have no idea why I was punched, and have been running through the moments leading up to the fateful moment for hours. The witty retorts have been flying through my mind. How could I have dealt with the moment better. I could’ve not sworn at the driver for blindsiding me, perhaps. I could’ve not tapped on his window at the next junction to show him how small 12 inches actually is. Was I blameless in the situation? As today has progressed, I have become more blameless. I was cycling faster than others, in a better road position, I wasn’t endangering myself, and I wasn’t holding up traffic. I am a hero. There is no better road user than I. Why should I be punched? These sorts of thoughts distract me from my research all day. I nurse the small bruise on my face, and ponder whether I will get back to the flat alive. Over lunch, I recite the tale to some colleagues. One of them proceeds to blame me for all of the bad cyclists in London: the builders on the way to work, the bike messengers weaving in and out of traffic, the people hopping up onto the pavement to skip the queues. It is now that my community fades. I am not linked to these people, I do not know them. I am Peter, denying his Rabbi three times. I am not a cyclist, I am better than that. They know nothing, I am a lycra warrior: a king of the road. I am a hero! Can’t you tell? Despite misgivings, tomorrow I shall again don my lycra (feeling, as ever, like a pervert while I put it on), put on my special cycling shoes, fill my pannier with books and proper clothes and head back into the only place where it is possible to feel both comfort and extreme fear: the road. I’ll put up with the abuse, the occasional pat on the bum by passing car passengers, the fear, all for the adrenaline. I walk around the library with smugness, like my trip achieved something. Just being alive every morning, after the turmoil of cycling through Euston, is an achievement that cannot be shared by motorists. I am endangered. I ride a carbon fibre bike. I am a cyclist. This is my battle call.