Sleigh bells ring, are you listening,
In the lane, snow is glistening.
A beautiful sight,
Cycling in a winter wonderland.
My deepest apologies to Bing ...but its almost right and I'm sure he would forgive me the error.
I want today to discuss the madness on our streets at this time of year and the supremacy of the bicycle over the car or public transport. Few who have any familiarity with this blog would ever doubt my love for the bicycle. It is a supreme method of transportation, being at the same time economic, ergonomic and environmentally neutral..... and yet at the same time I often feel it is the philosophy it imposes on its rider that is the bicycles most unique factor. For with the possible exception of the steam engine, a machine rarely imposes any philosophical influence on those travelling upon it or viewing it. The bicycle teaches the rider that less is very often more, that speed is less important than the manner of travel, and that in the journey joy is to be found, above achievement of a destination.
Having just been out Christmas shopping it was with a glad heart that despite the bitter wind I sped along a long, long line of stationary traffic, the occupants of said vehicles visibly fuming at the delay. Most probably appreciated that this was but a prelude to their desperate and often futile search for a town centre parking place. Bus drivers honked, pedestrians looked fearful of the diesel and petrol driven behemoths, white van man veered and ranted, in short it was far from the Christmas dream. The charioteers in their metal coffins looked positively Scrooge like.
Yours truly on the other hand was full of Christmas cheer, clad in tweed and moleskin and fortified by a very fine lunch of fresh anchovies, black bread and Chase English Vodka (the front wheel wobble giving rise to my suspicion that the much vaunted 48% proof might be a tad understated). Traffic chaos might be the kindest way of describing the devastation wrought on the town centre by a combination of simultaneous multiple gas works, increased christmas traffic volume and a propensity of delivery trucks to stop inappropriately in the most bizarre locations, but the nimble Pashley Sov took all in its stride.
With a joyous shriek I swept up through the cycle lane, and within minutes had the Pash on its stand sequentially at the butchers, grocers and off-licence. It was here I began to realise that Christmas shopping on a bicycle is an object lesson in zen simplicity, and the best way to avoid the post Christmas bloat. Just how much food & drink can one man get into his right hand pannier? So too the situation with shopping for presents. My mother, at just under 5ft, was a firm believer in the fact that "The best things come in little packages" and how right the old girl was! The bicycle teaches you, if you are to load said vehicle in a way that permits it to be ridden home, to buy little and of a lightweight nature.
Onward I pressed into the heart of Darkness, the main shopping area. 12 Christmas presents later, all were contained within the left hand pannier, the only heavy thing about my purchases was the damage to my bank balance.....never mind...the exquisite little filly that I shall be riding all Christmas will be beside herself with joy and desire once the little charmer spies the Cartier packaging! Money well spent say I! The bicycle imposes its will upon me in a subtle and gentle manner.....I could pile the old velo high with packages and wheel the thing home like a mechanical mule staggering under the weight of purchase.....but the connoisseur of two wheels feigns to walk when the prospect of being astride the lithe form of his first love offers so much pleasure. It strikes me that small gifts often seem to have a bigger impact, perhaps because they require thought to get right and intelligence choosing. It is the very difference from the norm that will set you apart when Christmas morning arrives and the house is festooned in acres of wrapping paper......at Christmas as in life, quality often comes about through small things.
Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and all the other proverbial seasonal guff....one thing is for sure.....Christmas day will see me on two wheels, come sleigh bells, snow, hell or high water!