Okay, I admit it – I’m something of a hot head.
My half-Irish blood and red hair sometimes get the better of me. But gradually, over my thirty five years, I’m getting calmer. I think it helps now, in general, being calm on a bike. In the pack it is easier to follow a calm, smooth rider, you trust the wheel, there are no nervous twitches or over reactions.
One of our local crew is called The Metronome, his pace never wavering, cadence clean and precise, legs keeping pace. This is a rider to trust. Potholes, shards of glass, the debris of our roads are all pointed out with hand signals. Moves are made with predictability and sureness. It is easy following The Metronome.
Other newer riders, with expensive kit, flashy and proud, muscle their way over the tarmac, moving not so much with grace, but an angry fervor. Exotic carbon and componentry in less capable hands. Still quick, fast to react, but eyes and a brain which have seen less action, not yet the sure wheel. Not calm enough.
Skills are sometimes transferable. Speedy solo commutes across London, moving between lines of traffic and people. Your own bubble, making smooth progress through the city is a pleasure, stay calm, be alert and the journey flows. Push too hard, get aggressive and frustration builds. Take that knowledge to the tight bunch of fast moving riders and try and add new knowledge to it. Read body language, a dropped shoulder, a cocked head, movements on the saddle, chopping legs, read the rider, watch the results.
So what happens? How does this zen-like calmness appear. Listen, look, learn and experience. As with everything it will come if you look for it. I know I’m still impetuous, closing down long gaps when it’s not required, trying for a break at the wrong time, angry sometimes at myself for not seeing the opportunity, or the mistake early enough. But it is happening, a growing understanding. A harmony between rider and machine, machine and tarmac. Moving as a pack or a lone wolf across our countryside I am calm, legs flowing, wheels rolling. I’m getting there, gradually.