Take the autobus

Oh boy, I do hate a headwind. I didn’t even try to get on my bike on Monday and walked instead, a decision which left me with soaking wet feet for the rest of the day. Mmm, pleasant. So, as today was a commuting day, I was back on the bike. I rounded the first corner and I found myself at a standstill cycling into a particularly nasty slicing headwind that was (caution, TMI alert) hard enough to blow the snot from my nose*

What I need right now, I thought (apart from a handkerchief), is to be in a peloton. Or rather, not a peloton as that’s too fast and scary altogether, but something more like the autobus that the sprinters form at the back of the Tour de France to get them over the mountains and to the finish without being disqualified. And it struck me that a cycling ‘bus’ might just be the answer for some commutes. When I did the London Freewheel last year, the best bit wasn’t the ride through central London on the closed roads – it was simply too crowded at times to be fun – but the ride in from the mustering points to the event itself. Riding in a group of fellow cyclists, not going too fast, keeping together and following a well chosen route, just felt like a really pleasant and safe way to get through the streets of London, even on some major roads. And if you were taking it in turns to be in front, then everyone would have to do less work, and consequently would get into work less sweaty and dishevelled.

And here’s the beauty of it – you could do it tomorrow. You don’t need to campaign for bike lanes, or law changes, or wait for the entire country to wake up to the joys of cycling. You just need five or six (or even three or four) fellow cyclists who are going your way at roughly the same time of day. And there are enough cyclists now, at least in London, that that doesn’t seem like an impossible ask, especially with the assistance of t’interweb. I see dozens just streaming down the Kennington Road every morning, but heads down, ignoring each other, all in a world of their own and strung out along the road instead of in a nice, wind-efficient bunch.

So who’s with me? Who would prefer to ride in a group than plug away on their own? And who doesn’t ride now but might if it was safer, or more fun, or if there was a bit of a social element to the journey to work? Or are we cyclists all such curmudgeonly bastards that we’d rather go our own speed than take the autobus?

Detailed explanations of why this would not work in the comments box please…

*This is not a figure of speech, it really did


9 responses to “Take the autobus

  1. Organise a flash mob of cyclists

  2. Oh dear. Flash mobs are so very 2003 …

  3. I think it’s ok occasionally but sometimes you need a bit of ‘Zen space’ from other cyclists. I mean one can say, form a ‘commuting peleton’ on Wednesdays for example… then you have free time for yourself. I don’t like going into work at the best of times and I need some time to ‘prepare’ for the hellish day ahead. Also if you are with other cyclists you miss out on small things like noticing the blackbird (not that there are any in London mind you, as they’re probably have been taken over by parrots). It wouldn’t work in ‘my patch’ as there are only 2 commuting cyclists and both of them go the wrong way to me 🙂

  4. I think it would work well in London.

  5. Maybe if the ‘commuting peleton’ cyclist would have some kind of identity, ie Jersey or something which means ‘hey, you can join me in my commute, and I won’t think you’re a weirdo’!

  6. Plenty of blackbirds round my way, cyclepod – usually eating rubbish on the streets like pigeons, but rather more stylish.

    Agree about needing some space, though.

  7. i had to look up peleton i thought it was some sort of sail powered cycle.

  8. I found this tends to happen spontaneously on the cycle home. Except there is always someone who decides it’s a race.

  9. John – sadly that would be no use in a headwind

    Moobs – that’s one of the things you’d want to avoid… not sure how, if there’s blokes involved though!

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