Monday 13 January 2014

Cambridge Cycling Bestiary: 2

I wrote part 1 of a Cambridge Cycling bestiary back in December '12, so part 2 is overdue!

The idea is to (perhaps irreverently, certainly sarcastically) describe some of the other cyclists I often see. Partly because Cambridge is full of 'characters' who need describing here, but also because it amuses me. Anyone who knows me will know that I'm probably the worst person you'll ever meet for remembering names - as such I give people little monikers of my own that I might remember. This extends to complete strangers. Here is my second group of complete stranger cyclists who have earned said monikers...

First I must talk about The Rock God. I don't know who he is, I don't know why he does it, but there's a chap who rides round, and round, and round Cambridge City Centre with what seems to be a slightly old fashioned little portable stereo in a carrier bag draped over his handlebars, from which he plays rock music. All of the time. I don't know if his mission is to bring rock to Cambridge, I don't know where he's from, whether he's going somewhere... Its a mystery. I'm glad he's there though - Cambridge would be a poorer place without folk like him, and if you've spent much time here over the last decade you've probably seen him.

Femme Fatality is another one I see a couple of times a week. You know some folk are just eye catching - they've got a look about them and your head will be turned towards them? She's like that, but while you'll be drawn towards her by her looks (its not so much beauty as having a presence - the kind that have nothing to do with age, its just something you've got or you haven't) you'll find you're soon staring at her bike. Its a death trap - the brakes seem to have been disconnected forever, the tyres are both bald and flat, and she's always riding this heap in the gutter. I don't get why you'd ride a bike in such a bad state or so badly. Seriously, I've been convinced she must be going to die on the roads for years - but on she goes. Good for her... No idea what its about though.

WHY? is an older chap who, I think, rather misses the point of what cycle facilities are for. I only see him on one particular stretch of Carlton Way, and he's always either on the 'shared use' section towards the School (by which I mean pavement that has a sign on saying you can ride it) or he's on the short segregated bit on which you have to dodge vehicles coming in and out of the school, negotiate a chicane with two ninety degree corners and little space, then give way to every damn driveway - no other adult cyclists that I see ride on it. And when he sees us riding on the road he's peeved - old WHY? tuts at us, sometimes even shouting at us. "WHY DON'T YOU USE THE FACILITIES PROVIDED FOR YOU?" he asks. "BECAUSE THEY ARE SHIT" I reply. Not that it helps. 

Hair and Hat is a guy who, in fairness, I have no idea (and don't especially care) if he's rastafarian or not, but if I say he looks like one you'll know the kind of style of hair and hat I'm talking about. He has the hat and the hair that would conform therewith, and the relaxed attitude to riding that one might associate with being under the influence of something. He's in no hurry - he's not going ridiculously slowly but he's not going fast. . Ever. Not even through lights or across junctions, he just goes at exactly the same rate. He's going to go his speed, he's not really going to show all that much awareness of the world around him other than to smile at folk who meet his gaze - I mean, he's in no way objectionable, but he's wearing a look that I rarely see in Cambridge which makes him stand out.  

Thats it for my second Cambridge Cycling Bestiary. Be sure to feel free to abuse me for my comments, or share your own random musings on strangers you often see cycling...


  1. I had Opposite Commute Man. Thus called because I could see him at what seemed like any point on my 6 mile commute, in the other direction. He would always smile and wave and usually wore bright cheerful looking bike clothing. Actually he used to wear what looked like the same bike clothing every day, to the extent that I would notice new items of Opposite Commute Man's wardrobe. "Hey, guess, what? Opposite Commute Man's got a new helmet" "Opposite Commute Man's got a new top"
    And then, after a few years, he disappeared! Ah, Opposite Commute Man, where are you? My life is ever so slightly worse without you.

  2. There's a lady who I've often seen cycling along Chesterton Rd and on the West Cambridge site, so must be making a similar journey to me. I first noticed her because she was wearing two-tone shoes: similar to a pedal reflector, the movement of her heels with this split colour down the back caught my eye. She's easily identifiable anyway though: long straight white hair, always loose. No helmet, no hi vis, colourful striking clothing, just an old lady making a sedate but not particularly slow journey to work on her bike.

  3. Cottenham has Peachy Sam Brown Lady - one of my cycling heroins. She's just about the only OAP you'll see cycling through Cottenham at rush hour these days while similarly aged folk drive to pickup their daily paper.

    Peach refers to the colour of one of her two distinctive coats. She's so regular I imagine she volunteers at something in the community. She's always riding the pavement because she has to and if she ever gets a ticket she'll stop.