Moving to the United Kingdom was always going to have several, unexpected effects on me. I’m becoming more comfortable with smaller spaces and cramped quarters. I’m getting used to the incredible variety of backgrounds, ethnicities, and accents and you can find in the middle of London. I’m slowly giving up lagers for ales.
I was not, however, expecting to grow a massive, violent distaste for all things bicycle. No, that came as a bit of a surprise.
I never had problems with bicycles before. Heck, for a few months, when I worked in Las Vegas (after I’d experienced the joy of having my car repossessed), I rode a bike to and from work, so I’ve got a bit of an understanding about the kinds of things cyclists go through. Motorists don’t give you quite enough space. Hills don’t flatten out, no matter how nicely you ask them. Bike lanes are basically non-existent in a lot of places. Rain is a particularly unforgiving companion. I cycled in the Nevada desert, so I never had to deal with snow, but I can imagine that’s a bit of a hassle, too.
Maybe it’s that I’m just starting to get my head around driving in the UK. This is probably, more than any other aspect of my life, where I’m getting used to smaller spaces. In the US, one rarely has to wait behind a parked car for the lane ahead to clear, and there are no “pulling over spaces” on roads that are really only wide enough for one car to drive along at a time. Bikes are a problem here. It’s not that I deny them the right of way or anything…I’m just certain I’m going to mis-judge the distances at some point and severely injure somebody. That being said, is it really necessary for bicyclists around here to ride three abreast on the narrower roads? Especially the ones where the speed limit runs somewhere in the realm of 70 mph.
Maybe it’s the dog walking. Toby and I often head out towards the nearby river (an offshoot of the Thames) on a Saturday morning, and I constantly find myself having to reign him in and move off to one side because some ne’r-do-well on a bicycle has decided he’s a pedestrian and is going to ride on the pavement (sidewalk, to you Americans). I’ve found myself staring down these people lately. I don’t mean to; it just happens. If your twelve years old, I can see wanting to keep off the road, but if you’re forty-seven, you know very well that bicycles belong on the road with the other vehicles.
Maybe it’s the train. Oh, god, the train. There are few things more frustrating than finding that your stop is coming up, standing up, going to the atrium (vestibule? …isn’t there an episode of Friends that deals with this?), only to find some jerk has parked his bike right in front of the door and wandered off, meaning my choices are now to either move somebody’s bike for them (possibly causing a confrontation which will last longer than the stop) or very quickly making my way to the next exit and hoping there isn’t a bike parked there as well.
One of the things that’s more frustrating, of course, is the opposite…getting on a train only to find, oh, you can’t, there’s a bike in the way.
Maybe I need to get a bike. Perhaps that will earn me some empathy. I doubt it, of course. I know how this story goes: I put my bike on the train, and I park it in one of the designated bike rack areas, and if said area is already full, I just wait for the next train. Then, I get even angrier at the people who don’t do exactly the same.
Maybe I just need to finally construct my device which selectively destroys bicycle frames at a molecular level? Yes, I think that’s probably the answer to my particular problem.
Taking a good run at Knight of the Flame’s cover this week. Hopefully, by the time we reach the weekend, I’ll at least have a complete understanding as to whether this will be do-able by anything less than a professional book cover illustrator. I’m also going to be putting some time into the audiobook version of the story this week, to be released as a podcast about the same time as the book itself. Exciting times ahead.