I'm standing in the W.H Smith’s of Euston Station as I wait for the 13:03 to New Street. Bored out of my brains I find myself glancing through a magazine which will, for now, remain nameless. Suddenly a deep sinking feeling plunges my soul into a dark recess of the universe as my eyes are transfixed by an article seemingly concerned with the making of ‘a better cyclist’.
So why the sinking feeling?
Because the inference of the article’s carefully crafted content is that what makes you and I ‘better’ is to do with technical advances and not ‘character’. The article is but a list of parts, accessories or gizmo's designed to offer one form of technical advantage or another. .
I’ve spent enough of my life bored to tears by customers comparing the weight of components, while bored kids slowly destroy the shop, to know that if these things are what make you and I ‘better’ we are all screwed!
So here’s a stab at our alternative list of those ten attributes which might actually make you and I better riders/human beings.
No 1: You Let On
Remember those fellow cyclists who pass you heading in the other direction. You have no idea what is in their past or what will greet their future. Simply ‘letting on’ will cost you nothing but might be the polite, community building gesture which pulls them through another day.
No 2: You Keep A Good Balance
Let’s be clear. Cycling is not the only demand on any of our lives, and if we wish it were we are probably more in need of therapy than we would like to admit. Most of us have partners, friends, children, beings who we are blessed to share this mortal coil with. Keeping a good balance is the art of a rich life.
No 3: You Have Goals
As my old man used to say 'if you’re not going forward you’re going backward; standing still is not an option.' Our future cycling experiences hold before us a breadth and depth of wonder that none of us can yet imagine. Experiencing such goodness requires that once in a while we set a few goals. Places we would love to ride, people we would love to ride with, times we would like to achieve, events we would love to participate in or even just an incremental increase in riding to and from work one additional day per week.
Having future orientated goals is a good thing, bringing them into our present is even better.
No 4: You Enjoy
So you’re not as fast, light, strong, adventurous, agile, as you’d like to be. Big deal! Allowing where you are not to rob you of the magic of where you are is just plain dumb. Don't let your commitment to endless improvement rob you of your present achievements.
No 5: You Get Lost
Knowing where you are heading is generally a good principle but not allowing yourself to get lost once in a while is what turns life into monotony. Turn left, especially when you have no idea where left goes.
No 6: You Share Your Love
We all long to see more people cycling more often so why not invite someone for a ride. If you’re waiting for the perfect infrastructure you are only robbing yourself of the joy of sharing something good. Waiting is for losers.
No 7: You Are Kind (To Yourself)
Repeat after me, “ I am gooooooood!” Now start believing it. Comparing yourself or your riding ability to anyone else is a fools game which will seldom improve anyone’s ability. You rode to work in the pouring rain? You deserve that flat white!
No 8: You Choose A Better Way
We’ve all been cut up or passed too close. We’ve all had a pedestrian walk in front of us and we all know the menace of a dog with no lead. But what we do with such moments is a well trained choice. Getting angry will only rob you of the joy of your ride, you can be damn sure the driver, pedestrian and dog are not giving it a second thought. Let go, move on and keep riding; these actions are your greatest protest.
No 9: You Are (vaguely) Attentive
Remember all those articles about sleeping well, eating exactly the right foods, carefully considering your bikes components, they aren’t wrong, they’re just not everything. Pay attention (vaguely).
No 10: You Are Forming Good Memories
Tomorrow, today will be but a story. Make it a good one.
So there you have it. that's our list. Feel free to add as you please.