Assorted, Feet

Massive Feet: An apology to Cycling

A couple of days ago, Bryntin posted the story of his temporary disconnect with the accepted best practise of getting the most from cycling, namely going outdoors, cycling in beautiful countryside and, 100% of the time, staying upright on the bicycle.

Since receiving many plaudits and great sympathy for his condition following this departure, and being of more a ‘sitting around and thinking instead of physically leaping around with great abandon’ type of attitude at present, Bryntin is worried that he has left readers of that post with the impression that cycling is more dangerous than it actually is and should in fact seek to um… redress the balance, as it were.

The events depicted in that post were particularly worthy of being written about for Bryntin because, despite riding a bicycle for thousands of kilometres over the last forty seven years, this was only the second occasion where he had an unscheduled departure from the upright position and that had that resulted in a full and frank exchange of skin materials with the surface that he used as a brake.

There are no pictures of the first occasion. Not because, as the crueller minds amongst you may have thought, that they hadn’t invented cameras yet, but because cameras were expensive and not exactly portable back then and he didn’t actually own one.

If his memory can be trusted, the last occasion on which he departed from his bicycle, in an attempted manoeuvre where physics demonstrated its invincibility and that resulted in bloodshed, was one evening when he was eight years old and rushing to make the 6 o’clock after-tea football-match come no-holds-barred-and-possible-arrest-for-GBH wrestling. This was a regular evening fixture between the Jarrards Close Bruisers (his team) v The Streamers Meadows Stranglers and he had tried to turn a corner, where the loose gravel had been thrown into a pile of marbles by car tyres, too sharply and quickly.

Also, if his memory serves him well, he got back on the bike after obtaining the grazed knee and elbow and was applauded by the rest of his team on his arrival at the designated pile of jumpers for goalposts as it looked like he had probably already had a good fight on the way.

In the intervening years 8-51, Bryntin has bicycled his way around on a wide variety of roads, tracks, beaches, lanes, hills, singletracks, moors, bridleways and even dedicated cycle paths, in the UK and throughout Europe, without one single incident of similar unscheduled departures from the bicycle.

He is very much not one of those athletic types of racing, full team-kit replica cyclists that goes as fast he possibly can everywhere in order to try to be a fraction of a second faster than he was last time he did it. The pointless effort to get themselves on a virtual internet leaderboard where the top three probably did it on a motorbike is beyond Bryntin’s understanding.

He has also cycled in conditions that were not ideally suited, to most minds, to ‘going for a bike ride’. Like this, for example:

This was the first day of riding the Rhine route, from the source of the Rhine in the Swiss Alps to its mouth at Rotterdam. It was a bit slippy at first.

So Wednesday’s incident was only the second one in his entire life.

Bryntin would therefore like to make very clear that he has the following viewpoint.

Cycling in itself is not dangerous, not any more so than walking and very much less so than what that chap did solo climbing El Capitan without any ropes at all that he saw recently on television through his fingers.

Yes, when an incident does happen, it hurts. In the case of the climber, probably only for a very short time indeed, for a cyclist, a little longer. But it is very, very rare.

What is not rare is how the media coverage of incidents in which ‘a cyclist’ is killed, hurt or injured (in official statistics ‘KSI’, Killed or Seriously Injured) the language is employed makes out that this was a cycling incident. It normally isn’t. It is generally a motor vehicle incident in which a cyclist was in the vicinity and ended up, through the pure physics of kinetic energy and other universal certainties, being the most damaged party.

Because of their relative rarity, gore appeal and likely sympathetic viewpoint to the ‘bloody cyclist’ motorist fraternity, these incidents are pretty much always reported so that readers are once more assured that it is safer to buy a car, which it so happens are featured in quite a lot of the advertisements in the paper. Not so for most incidents between cars where possibly no one got killed but the odd arm or leg was broken.

But you remember the fear-inducing cyclist involved ones because they seem to be in the papers more than car ‘accidents’ and are often worded to make it seem like the cyclist was the only human agency involved.

This is a screenshot from the Cycling UK website .

So Bryntin will continue, once feeling up to it again, to cycle for many kilometres because, last dramatic post notwithstanding, he enjoys it a lot and is better for him than he might have led you to think.

8 thoughts on “Massive Feet: An apology to Cycling”

    1. To answer this question properly, we will need the radius of the corner, total mass of you and the bike, approximate surface area of the contact patches of the tyres in use and the velocity.

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  1. My husband does a bit of cycling (more the A to B kind than the just generally cycling kind). He’s only ever had two incidents.

    In the first, he went over the handlebars and broke his wrist. But he was a kid at the time and kid accidents say more about kids than bikes–kids aren’t allowed to drive cars at all.

    In the second, a motorist screwed up and clipped him. The driver *didn’t even notice* at the time (but he did notice when the cops showed up to chat to him about safe distance).

    (I’m still pretty cross about that last one, in case you couldn’t tell).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep, cycling would be perfectly safe without the motor vehicle.
      I have many thoughts on this that are not really for the style of this or my other blog so I don’t quite know where to put them… but perhaps in my current condition of thinking more than doing I might think about that as well.

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