Now, I know this subject has been chewed over many times in the past, but it seems the message isn’t getting through. MUDGUARDS. Why the hell do people insist on not fitting them and why do they submit themselves to the unpleasantness that results from the omission of their fitment? Surely the fact that this accessory has been available to the cyclist since the inception of the modern bicycle is testament to their worth. Yet time after time I witness examples of the failure to invest in such a cheap yet effective aid to pedalling comfort. Only the other night, a classic example of this strange and confused logic appeared on the road before me, resulting in my arriving home in an even more vexed state than usual. [I doubt it – ed.]
Fair play to this particular individual, whose presence on the road could not be missed when travelling by whatever means of transport one employed that night. His bike was adorned with several powerful flashing lights, the two panniers carried clearly-seen reflective strips and just visible below them were similar adornments on his overshoes. Finally, completing this ensemble, his torso was covered in a bright yellow rain top. Perfect, except for the inky black smear that ran vertically down the back from his neck to his waist looking horribly similar to the aftermath of spilling a container of sump oil down the side of a work bench. What impression this mobile waste spillage gives other road users is not difficult to imagine; as to the reception one might receive when arriving at journey’s end, who knows?
Doubtless your boss at work or dinner party host will announce in a primly disgusted voice similar to the effete ‘Lady’ of David Walliams in Little Britain; “He’s a cyclist you know”, provoking the usual comments about men in tights. You have to wonder why retailers don’t simply put a black stripe down the back of these garments – or are they in league with washing powder manufacturers? “New Bold removes all known road grease.” In fact, what there should be is a levy on all bikes sold without mudguards, the exceptions being labelled with a clear sign saying; “Only to be used for racing or off-road activities”. Anyone transgressing this legislation should be made to report to the nearest police station and explain exactly why their cycle is bereft of fenders. And that doesn’t include those fancy strips of plastic that seem to have found their way onto many so-called racing bikes.
Mudguards need to be a regulation width, so as to ensure both rider and public are safeguarded against assault from the slurry of asphalt-borne detritus. Also, the front ‘guard needs a mud flap and all rear ones a reflector. People need to be more considerate to riders of my age; gone are the days when I could churn away at the front of the bunch for mile after mile. A certain amount of conservation and metering of effort has crept into the equation nowadays and nobody [not even you – ed.]should be subjected to a continual spray of liquid excrement.