For myself and many other cyclists we’re more likely to be impressed by what’s bolted to the roof rather what’s under the bonnet. When I see those tough (grrr) four wheel drive things it’s too often a K-Mart bike bolted to the roof. Or one of those horrible kayak things that have favoured stability over speed to such an awful degree they look more like something you would moor a boat to than something you would paddle. I know that to those who own these despicable devices it all spells adventure, but I know people who get more adventure out of their daily commute to work.
|(The Foot Down)|
If you talk to the people who own these over-sized cars they’ll talk fondly of their “truck” and tell you about all the ways they’re reinforcing its capacities and their own sense of masculinity. Never mind they’re hardly going places a more intrepid person couldn’t take a beat-up ’90s model Commodore, they feel gratified by knowing they can get there and back in one piece. In their lounge-chair comfort. With the stereo on. And 24 hour telecommunications link to roadside assist.
They travel in groups of ten or twenty (in case one of the lesser vehicles gets stuck and needs to be pulled out of a puddle). They’ll tell you fondly of arriving at their destinations and pulling out the camp oven, the bush latrine, the circus tent and all the toys of camping and “roughing” it in the bush. Then perhaps they’ll remove the stupid unrideable crap from their roof and pedal a couple hundred metres each way on a dirt track. More likely they’ll settle into the fold-out armchair and crack a few beers and glory over their intrepid ways, wilfully ignoring the Hyundai Excel parked in the next camping bay.
Many of them dream of defiling the very spots that others use for their recreation. When dreams of surfing have fled because their slothful ways have made it dangerous to paddle out into the anything more challenging than a placid lake, they turn instead to driving along the beach. At speed. I’ve actually spent many hours driving on beaches (as part of surf life saving duties) and can tell you it’s not nearly as difficult as they like to pretend. Almost everyone in our club was able to navigate soft sand. Some better than others of course. There is a skill involved in navigating soft sand. Just not a difficult one. Most of us had only recently acquired our license and none had any prior experience at driving a four wheel drive off-road.
|(Some people make everything look difficult.)|
Then there’s the V8s and those horrible little cars that go “stish!” when the turbo waste gate dumps. Why these people find it so hard to navigate our suburbs is anyone’s guess. They always seem to be driving harder than anyone else. Just to keep up. These are the people I fear as a cyclist. Not only are they clearly inept, they’re also driving the most powerful vehicles. If ever there was a people trying to overcome the metaphorical small penis syndrome it is these people. When I ride home from one of my rare “ninja days” on the mountain bike trails (when for reasons unknown everything comes good and I ride the socks off the bike) and I see these guys trying to impress themselves, I find it hard to equate their sense of masculinity with anything that exists in the real world. Last week I saw one that had rear-ended the car in front. In that case I think perhaps they had shattered their own dreams of themselves as the next Daniel Ricciardo. Though I think these people live in a world with powerful delusions and even shattering their expectations as literally as that from a car accident isn’t enough to dissuade them of their ability and right to drive according to their perceptions of themselves.
|(At least they admit it.)|
I’ve met people who consider themselves good cyclists who were a danger to themselves. They’re few and far between though. They get found out very quickly. There is no cushion to the consciousness for these people, like that provided by the four walls and four wheels of a car. The bike doesn’t stay upright by itself. And doesn’t protect you against impact if you fail. Life has many pursuits like this. Football, rock-climbing, skiing, surfing, skateboarding…etc…It’s a long list. For those who fail at all of these and who still don’t want to admit to their inabilities, there is the car.