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resurrection of short story corner

Discussion in 'CycleChat Cafe' started by SamNichols, 27 Nov 2007.

  1. SamNichols

    SamNichols New Member

    Location:
    Colne, Lancs
    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.
     
  2. Fnaar

    Fnaar Smutmaster General

    Location:
    Thumberland
    Very good Sam. Did you really get punched? Jeez....
    Anyways, I'm about to characteristically reduce the thread to absurdity by giving a short story containing religion, royalty, sex, illegitimacy and a mystery:

    "Christ!" said the Queen, "I'm pregnant! I wonder who the father is?"
     
  3. OP
    OP
    SamNichols

    SamNichols New Member

    Location:
    Colne, Lancs
    I haven't cycled in London for months, and luckily I have never been punched, although I did get one thrown at me (luckily he misjudged how long his arm was and missed) a while ago. It's a mix of fact and fiction.
     
  4. Globalti

    Globalti Legendary Member

    I never got abused or attacked during the 6 years I lived and cycled every day in London.

    But that was before congestion charging...
     
  5. Dayvo

    Dayvo Just passin' through

    I think we should ALL emigrate en mass to Spain/Holland/Belgium/Italy/France where the chavs don't go or know, where the sun shines, and the wind blows from behind.
    Where a bartender is happy to make 25 americanos and proffer a bottle of brandy at cost price. Warm croissants make a good substitute for Danish pastries.
    Wide, well-surfaced open roads, with courteous drivers who beep to alert you of their presence, not to tell to to **** off!
    Gentle hills give way to mountain passes, and yet it's a pleasure to be out, at one with nature, your bike, and your self.
    You lead/chase friends with friendly exchanges of banter being fired off, but happy to stop and help when one of your lot falls by the wayside with a puncture.
    Six hours in the saddle and a journey to remember, but soon your thoughts are focused on the next ride, preferably the next day, and the joys and pleasures, and new experiences it will bring.
    Ride well, ride long, ride safely, ride happily.
     
  6. ColinJ

    ColinJ Hillfinder General

    Okay, here is an excerpt from one of mine - The Trauma of Trawden! All true, by the way...


    • I was mentally destroyed. I had to do what I had already done all over again, without food or drink. THUMP. THUMP. What was that bloody noise? It was my heartbeat. I was hardly moving as I turned up ANOTHER hill by the church, but my heart was trying to burst out of my chest. My vision started to fail. Black speckles appeared suspended across my field of view. I was at long last offering my first greeting to 'The Man With The Hammer'. So this is what they meant by 'bonking'!

    Full story here.
     
  7. OP
    OP
    SamNichols

    SamNichols New Member

    Location:
    Colne, Lancs
    I was riding in Normandy over summer, and the difference is amazing. People give you distance, they hang back when stuck behind you instead of coming right up your bum, you can lock your bike up for an hour and come back to find it there, you don't get weird looks in coffee shops and I enjoyed it a good deal more than here. 30 miles in Normandy is relaxing. 30 miles around Manchester puts the fear of God into you.
     
  8. this was written a few years back and made it into a short story compilation associated with a competition...

    Timeless Machine

    The noise disturbed him. It wasn’t too loud, but it was there. The tyres generated a light buzzing, but this was more of a wheeze mixed with a rattle. He stopped pedalling, it was still there, not the gears then. He held his breath. Quiet. That was ok, so long as it wasn’t the bike making the sound.
    It was his new pride and joy, custom made in Italy and costing at least two months wages. “Why didn’t you buy a car?” Was his friends common cry. He cared not for their opinions, out here he was in his element, speeding down country lanes under his own steam, man and machine together with no engine noise, just the occasional chain ching as the gears snicked to a different ration and the thrum of rubber on rough tarmac.
    The city was behind him now, the air cleaner, houses few and far between, animals outnumbered humans, which was just fine by him. The road roller-coastered through the trees and he adjusted his riding accordingly, standing for ascents, grinding on the pedals to propel him skyward and then he’d crouch low as he hurtled down the other side, gravity pulling him as hard as possible. Soon the final hill approached, a long grind that his tired lungs were dreading. Illness had kept him from this dream machine for months and it was only the warm day that had prompted a long distance journey, his body was aching already and the worst was to come.
    He was soon in the lowest gear and straining hard. Breathing fast, head down to avoid the view of what lay ahead he grovelled up. The top held coffee and cake and a stunning view, they beckoned him up and he could only savour them if he made it.
    The grass was soft as he collapsed onto it, the shiny cycle next to him, his leg lightly resting on it as if he couldn’t bear to be parted and the refreshments at his side, coffee vapour rising above the countryside. All around people gazed, pointing to distant landmarks and marvelling at the toy villages nestling amid the trees. An old couple shuffled by, the man uninterested in the scenery though, the prone bike grabbing his attention, the way the light glinted from the chromed gears and the sun spangled in the paint, it exuded class and called to him. He stopped and turned, spellbound, looking it over several times, absorbing every detail, weld and fixture. With his partner pleading and tugging him by one hand he slowly raised his head and looked straight at the tired rider and smiled. The elderly eyes glowed alive and in them the cyclist saw a young soul, speeding through country lanes under his own steam, the city and his cares far behind him, hair blown in the slipstream and with only the thrum of rubber on rough tarmac in his ears.
    The proud rider smiled back. Totally worth it, he thought.