You could argue that I could ride a bicycle that distance (with a bit of practice and a lot less wine every evening) and it would probably take me the same amount of time and get me fitter simultaneously. It sounds perfect for somebody trying to get in shape for a wedding. I can understand why people do it.
Unfortunately, I'm never going to do that. Ever. There are loads of reasons but the main factors are as follows: First, I don't own a bike. Second, I cannot ride a bike. Third, I can't turn up for a day in the office all sweaty with my dress and heels screwed up in a bike bag. Last and most poignantly, Reading is a bloody DEATH TRAP for cyclists.
Seriously- why do you do it? I've watched buses squeeze cyclists onto the pavement. I've seen a guy come off his bike on London Road and skid INTO THE ONCOMING TRAFFIC ON HIS FACE. I've seen cyclists tailgated so ferociously that they almost became a Human Centipede sequel. Why are you doing this to yourselves? There is so much rage on the roads between cyclists and drivers, the very thought of suffering crotch abuse for 40 minutes across Reading to get fit is enough to send me hurtling into a mild panic attack. There are a lot of inconsiderate, idiot drivers on the road and I know that.
Can we, for just ONE MINUTE, acknowledge that there are also a lot of inconsiderate, idiot cyclists on the road as well though? A few years back I posted a Tweet that went something along the lines of "Some of these cyclists have a death wish, I swear". The backlash I got was mad. Like, mental. One of my favourites was "We have to put up with idiot drivers, some of whom drive like they WANT US DEAD". Jeremy Clarkson favourited the Tweet which made the backlash even more exciting. Listen, we don't want you dead. At all. We want you to observe the Highway Code and the laws that apply to you. Riding a bicycle doesn't make you exempt from abiding by the law. Surely, with nothing between your brain and a big metal BMW except your actual face you would be more keen to use the roads in a safe manner. Agreed? I'd like to issue some reminders out to the lovely cyclists of Reading...
- Wear a helmet. For a reason completely beyond my grasp, there is no law in the UK for cyclists to wear a helmet if they are cycling in traffic. The Highway Code advises that you do, and I like to think of it as a great way to minimise the chances of your head exploding if you have an accident. If you're worried that you might look a bit stupid in a helmet, do not fear. Lycra shorts and reflective elbow pads would make George Clooney look like a bellend. Lets be honest, you're 99% of the way there already.
- You are NOT allowed to cycle on a pavement (Laws HA 1835 sect 72 & R(S)A 1984, sect 129). Just don't do it. It makes everyone think less of you. The news is full of articles about cyclists knocking kids onto their arses haphazardly as they cycle blissfully down pedestrianized pavements. It's where Grandads and Mums with buggies full of little'uns walk. Let's just agree that common sense should prevail here- man up and get on the road.
- If you are riding your bike on the road at night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit. It must also be fitted with a red rear reflector and amber pedal reflectors (Law RVLR regs 13, 18 & 24). If you've decided to roam around in the roads at night with absolutely no lights on then I'm not going to see you. Would you wander around the unlit section of the M4 in your pajamas expecting drivers to slow down to bid you a lovely evening? If we can't SEE you then we're not going to swerve out to give you adequate space. We're not even going to try. This doesn't make us inconsiderate, it makes you inconsiderate. I won't be swerving into oncoming traffic to avoid hitting you when I have a car full of my loved ones. I don't know you, you could be a Scientologist for all I know.
- You must not ride a bicycle when under the influence of drink or drugs, including medicine (Law RTA 1988 sects 24, 26, 28, 29 & 30 as amended by RTA 1991). You are a risk to yourself and you are a risk to me. If I'm required to leave my car at home to drink a bottle of wine then you are required to get a cab too like the rest of us. Alcohol makes people less responsive to sudden change; if that sudden change is that you find yourself on the wrong side of the road then you're much less likely to have the brain power to correct it quickly. It's the same for car users. Don't drink and drive, just don't do it. It's shitty, regardless of the vehicle you have control of.
- You MUST NOT cross the stop line when the traffic lights are red. Some junctions have an advanced stop line to enable you to wait and position yourself ahead of other traffic, but you are not free to advance your vehicle until the light is green and the traffic is clear (Laws RTA 1988 sect 36 & TSRGD regs 10 & 36). I must say, this is my biggest gripe with cyclists. If the light has just turned red, it probably means that traffic is going to be heading towards you in a matter of seconds. Don't decide that you are some sort of psychic traffic maverick that can pick his way through very dangerous flows of traffic to get ahead. If a light turns green and I check the road is clear I will move my car forwards. If you, lawless cycle bandit, decide to ride your bike into the exact same space I can bet that my car is going to get there first and at a higher speed. I can bet that there is a very high chance that I'll hit you. I can also bet that you will be the first one to launch a tirade of abuse at me about "Watching where I'm going". Listen, I am not responsible for your safety. Not one part of my mindset is geared up to allow you extenuating circumstances on the road because you've decided to ride what is essentially a skilfully bent piece of metal amongst lorries, buses, cars and motorbikes. This doesn't make me an arsehole, I'm not trying to hurt anyone riding a bicycle, but if you decide to break the law then you pay the consequences. End of. My insurance will cover my dents, your doctor can cover yours.