I have been driving my Mini for about 18 months now and I have come to a few conclusions. The first is that BMW make a very good car and the second is that I don’t want a new one. A bit of a contradiction? Maybe, but my reasons are firmly fixed in my personality, let me explain a bit further. Continue reading
Tag Archives: cyclist
Water is life. Over 70% of our planet is covered in it and if starved of it for a few days you will drop dead. Water is fun! You can swim in it, float on it, ride jetskis on it and best of all if you mix it with some sand and sunshine it makes girls take off all their clothes and wear bikinis.
But in its solid form or even worse its crystalised, fluffy floaty form, its another story. Ice and snow have magical and evil powers, they conspire to remove all the bread and milk from the shops, make grim faced policemen come on the news and tell us there is ‘chaos’ and order us all to stay in bed. Ice and snow remove your wheels and replace them with castors and then cut your brake lines. We are all afraid of it, we all hate it. Unless you are under 16 and its an excuse for the adults to panic and you to get a free day off school.
All of this makes me so damn angry.
What the hell is wrong with people? Why on earth, as soon as there is a little bit of a change from the norm, a little bit of interesting weather, do you all panic and hide under the duvet? The ‘best’ excuse I have heard is “We are not used to driving in the snow because it doesn’t happen very often” This of course to anyone with common sense its just plain stupid. If the conditions are rare, isn’t it better to experience them when you can? learn how to adapt your driving when the road and the car will feel different? Become more aware of the limitations of grip and safe distances?
I phoned a driving instructor, a decent and sensible chap, and asked him if advice for snow driving was available. “Sure” he said “Just call and I will be happy to advise, or we can book a lesson if you want and I can show you how best to do it” It seems that we view instructors as a way to pass the driving test so we can all ‘drive’, because of course, as soon as we pass we are all experts! And as the years roll by our expertise gets better and better…right? We wouldn’t need a trained professional to advise us or sharpen our skills, because we are all brilliant! Right? WRONG!
It snows. All of Britain stops, or crashes into eachother, or breaks down, or gets stuck because they didn’t have the brains to maintain their car, carry a blanket or a shovel, or the common sense to change the way they drive or even check their tyres are ok and not looking like Kojak. Driving is a skill that is unique because it constantly changes. You can drive the same bit of tarmac every day for a year and nothing out of the ordinary will happen. You get in the car, you move leavers, push pedals and turn things and the car moves. Same day in and day out, right up until the tyre blows, or a child runs out or a cyclist wobbles out in front or even worse, it snows, rains, hails or is foggy.
I have found the real reason for Mr Grim Faced Policeman/Council Worker/AA Bloke coming on the TV and telling us all to stay at home, its because he knows just how rubbish the average motorist is at dealing with something out of the ordinary, because there are not enough people in Britain who actually LOVE TO DRIVE and LOVE THEIR CARS. Its THESE people you see adapting and enjoying their drive. These people see it as a challenge to their skill, and get on and do it. They won’t need to be charging about like a Finnish rally driver, but they will be calm, confident and ready to take on whatever is thrown at them. It THESE types, people who go for a drive for the sheer hell of it, people who take a detour if it means a good ‘B’ road rather than a dull motorway, people who turn off the damn radio to hear that roar from 3rd to 4th as they negotiate that neat right hander. Drivers (and there are a few left, I know names!) will check their cars, maintain them, monitor tyre pressures, fluid levels and such stuff so if they are caught out in changing conditions, they are confident the car can deal with it and they adapt their driving to it. There are too many people that see the car as a thing to fill with stuff and take the kids to school with. They treat the car and the skill of driving like doing laundry, the worst that can happen is a wet floor if the washer fails or pink Y fronts if you screw it up. When it goes wrong in a car you can kill yourself or someone else.
Moving away from cars just for a second, lets talk about ‘Frozen Britain’ as they announced it on the news. I wasn’t alive in 1963, but I’m told that the winter there was pretty nasty, and indeed prior to that there have been some pretty snowy times for the UK. Back then there was no mobile phone, no Internet, no ASDA or Iceland home delivery, we all had Austin A40’s or motorbikes and sidecars, no one had even heard of a Land Cruiser. Land Rovers and Jeeps were for the rosy cheeked farmer and military; articulated trucks had to have a drivers mate to help brake the trailer on the tricky bits. People got to work ok, maybe they had to get up a bit earlier or take a bit more care but the world turned and we just got on with it. So how on earth did we, a nation the survived the Blitz, turn into a bunch of namby pamby bed wetting losers that are the joke of the world? A little snow and Britain stops, seems like all the terrorists need to do is wait for winter then they will have the UK on its knees. Everyone knows you can’t stop a Toyota pickup.
One final thought. None of the above will make any difference, because of all these people mooching about taking their kids back and forward to school and shopping, Global Warming will really kick in and in a few years we will all look forward to December as it will be a bit cooler than the 40 degree summers the are predicting!
That’s it, rant over. Please be careful out there, I hate seeing cars damaged.
OK I have been very good so far. I have not mentioned them at all.
By now, regular readers will know a few things about me, but for the benefit of some late comers or new readers (welcome!) here are a few facts.
* I love driving
* I dislike some types of drivers…
* Driving in front of me at 28mph in a 60 zone will make me tear off my steering wheel and beat you to death with it.
* People who drive cars while wearing hats are suspicious at best and really should be avoided.
* Caravanner’s should be outlawed.
* All cars are brilliant.
There, a brief summary of my messed up and skewed view of motoring. You will notice I have left out the obvious natural enemy of drivers, such as speed cameras, the Police, traffic wardens, farmers and the Green Party; all of which should fill any driver with bowel loosening dread.
But I have been silent about group of people (I use the term loosely) because I realise that that a few of my readers could be in this group and that might be a bad thing. But something happened to me today that has to break my silence, shoot my self in the foot, encourage hate mail and enrage my audience. Never let it be said that I am scared of controversial journalism.
I’m talking about Cyclists.
Right, now, before all you green lot run in circles and yell at me on how much better the humble 10 speed is and how the environment isn’t damaged by the gentle swish of pedal, or the summery ting of a bell as a lady in a big straw hat swoops past a buttercup meadow in a haze of sunshine, let me tell you something. The bicycle is directly responsible for two of the worst contributors of greenhouse gases, co2, soot, acid rain, plagues, frogs, locusts and anything else that’s supposed to kill buttercuppy meadows.
Don’t believe me? Well what was the day job of the blokes that invented powered flight for the first time? Want more? OK what did Mr Peugeot do before he made exciting little hatchbacks? Or Honda-san, what did he cut his teeth on prior to making some of the best and most popular cars ever known? That’s right they all made (or STILL MAKE) Bicycles.
Kids on bikes are just fine. Normally they are on the path anyway and more interested in doing wheelies or (if they are a bit older) riding them over bits of street furniture and causing a nuisance to the park keeper. Mum or old guy on a bike are fine, Mum has little one on the baby seat, so wont even think of doing anything stupid. Old man is in top gear, pushing laboriously on each pedal stroke. He is moving so slowly that it really would be quicker to walk as continental drift is starting to catch him up. Nope, my fury is with the multi coloured blokes that really, truly, actually believe they are in the tour-de-France. They dress up in skin tight, multicoloured clothes, shave all their body hair off , put on a streamlined helmet and biff about on the road believing that they can keep up with traffic.
It gets worse when they bring a friend, and they ride side by side totally ignoring the poor sod behind him that is trying to get past without causing offence or inconvenience to them as they have the moral high ground and he is murdering the planet, and therefore a son of Satan.
But it doesn’t stop there, oh no…
Today (a Sunday) I had to go and get my wife from work, a not bad run of some 15 miles of twisty bits and some long straights. 60Mph is the speed limit over about 90% all of it just single lane, but at 7am it would be clear of traffic so a nice sunny run to get the missus. Or so I thought.
The local bicycle clubbery had decided to hold a ‘Cycle Event’ I found this out by reading the sign pinned to the back of a bloke with a beard wearing a high vis jacket. I then saw a swarm of brightly coloured spandex for the next 15 miles and had to spend my time over taking time and time again, trying not to hit the driver coming the other way head on as he did the same. I’m not going to say it was a race, even though there were timers, and even a chequered flag, and event is an event. Safety was paramount, but safety and cycling are very hard to have in the same sentence, so maybe that’s why cyclists ignore safety for the most part and just don a polystyrene hat and put the blame firmly on the motorist if there is an accident (remember, motorists are planet killers) This probably explains why I watched these event participants ride the wrong way up the road in places, fix their bikes in the road in other places, ride in a pack sometimes three abreast, causing other road users to continually overtake them on the wrong side of the road, now, add to the fact this was happening on BOTH sides, and it forced a ton of metal at 60mph to drive at each other head on time after time. If you were to put forward an ‘event’ like this to any sane person he would reach for the phone and find out if the local loony bin had a break out!
Me, you and every other motorist pays through the nose in petrol tax, road tax insurance premiums, etc, but it costs the cyclist nothing to use all of the roads that we pay for. If I got a bunch of 50 of my mates to have a timed ‘event’ from here to Basingstoke and back, then every beard in 5 miles would ring the police, the air force and the SAS to put a stop to it. Even when a group of like minded car freaks get together in a car park for a chat and some appreciation of other car nuts hard work, the beardies get sniffy. As soon as an engine is revved up it goes from a cruise to a rave, someone is having some fun.
And that’s just not allowed