Back in the saddle – the pitfalls of rediscovering cycling

bike

The terror

As you wobble off on your first cycle for months, in the wrong gear of course, you’ll suddenly be reminded of how vulnerable you are as you negotiate parked cars and aggressive lorries on nothing more than six metal pipes welded together.

The hypocrisy

When you’re in the car you’re muttering “Bloody cyclists, hogging the road like they own it. Get out of the way, you selfish bastards.”

When you’re on your bike you think “That dickhead Audi driver nearly hit me off. I have a right to be here as well, you know.”

You’ll be soaked no matter what

When’s it’s dry, you’ll be drenched in sweat. When it’s raining, you’ll be saturated by as much water as a Range Rover’s 22-inch rain tyre can send in your direction.

The pain

You can pay several thousands of pounds for a bicycle. It may be made of carbon-fibre and weigh the same as a dandelion clock, but you’ll still return home with a raw arse and thighs as tense as guitar strings. And no matter how much you waste, sorry spend, on your steed, at some point you’re still going to whack yourself in the shin with your own pedal.

The mechanical issues

These days you’ll get an excellent bike for three hundred quid, fitted with hydraulic disc brakes that only require a limp squeeze to stop the bike dead.

Your average wreck of a bike will not be fitted with these. It is inevitable, therefore, that they will not work properly. Either the rears or the fronts will, but not both. So you’ll arrive at your destination backwards, or several seconds before your bike.

Selecting a lower gear as you encounter a hill is always a problem. Too late you realise that you should be in first and not nineteenth, and attack your selector with fervour. All that happens is that your chain comes off – and so do you.

Then there’s the constant rigmarole of replacing inner tubes. There exists a specific subsection of Sod’s Law reserved for cyclists that states that the number of punctures you suffer will be directly proportional to the number you’ve already fixed.

The gear

Cycling helmets are essential. I don’t particularly want to have to relearn my own name or get someone to feed me blended pizza through a straw. But they do look ridiculous. Then there’s the rest of you. Unless you want to get mangled under the wheels of a bus, you have to clad yourself in clothing that makes you look like a cross between a Power Ranger and a children’s TV presenter.

The crapness

No matter how much you dress it up, or love the environment, bikes are slow, dangerous, exhausting and open to the elements, and everyone apart from other cyclists hates you as soon as you sling your leg over the crossbar.

 

Schooldays Nostalgia Tours

Ulsterbus_2440_2
Your transport for the day

Our themed days perfectly recreate the experience of a day at school in the late 1990s.

A typical itinerary for the 2015/16 season is outlined below – book now to avoid disappointment.

7am

Your ‘father’ will throw open your bedroom door, turn the overhead light on, shout ‘Get up! You’re going to be late!’ and exit swiftly, leaving the door open.

7.30am

After the inevitable lie-in, you will be forced to rise with a full bladder.

7.35am

Shower (widdling in the cubicle is permitted in these circumstances).

7.50am

You will find a selection of freshly ironed, stiff shirts, fresh from the packet, in your wardrobe. You are expected to ignore these and opt for the worn-out comfortable ones you’ve had for the last four years.

8.00am

Breakfast. A selection of cereals will be provided. Packets purporting to contain an interesting cereal may be harbouring an extra bag of something more boring, such as Rice Krispies – be warned.

Please note that any free toys remain the property of Schooldays Nostalgia Tours.

8.15am

Please follow the directions to walk to the bus stop, in the rain. For an extra charge you may ask your father for a lift, a request which will be refused. You are expected to avoid wearing a rain coat to dodge aspersions being cast about your sexuality by your schoolmates.

Upon arrival at the bus stop you will undertake a five minute programme of administering and receiving dead arms and casual insults.

8.45am

As the bus approaches the school, the vibration of its engine will render all male participants unable to leave the bus with any dignity. This is normal and you will be given a couple of minutes to compose/rearrange yourselves.

9.00am

Start your day with a double period of mathematics. At ten-minute intervals gaseous sedatives will be pumped into the room to lower your concentration to authentic levels.

You may be asked to contribute answers without prior warning.

10am

PE lessons. Extra mud and sick notes available on request.

As part of our package, any spectacle wearers will be hit in the face with a football at some point during the lesson.

12.15pm

Lunch in our specially-built replica canteen – providing a menu of gristle curry and rice or rubbery burgers in stale bread with chips, cans of Coke and a grumpy woman stamping your dinner ticket. No vegetarian option.

Feel free to indulge in horseplay, high jinks and general buffoonery. Our team of realistically grumpy teachers, clad in tweed sports jackets, will interject if things get out of hand. For the purposes of realism, you may be given a Saturday detention. You are obliged to attend.

1.00pm

Physics. You are expected to laugh at the word ‘Uranus.’

1.30pm

Biology. You are expected to snigger during sex education.

2.00pm

Chemistry. You are expected to set fire to something with a Bunsen burner.

3.30pm

You are advised to make your way to the bus as promptly as possible, since popular seats on the return journey are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. Due to high demand only the coolest students (as determined by our judging panel) will be allowed to sit at the back.

Special prizes will be presented at the end of the day for the pupil with the loudest earphones and for whoever successfully guesses the progenitor of the smelliest fart.*

*”He who smelt it dealt it” is not an acceptable methodology.

3.55pm

Skid in dog shit when you get off the bus. Furiously scrape your shoe on the nearest kerb.

4.10pm

Upon your return ‘home’, you are free to indulge yourself from an extensive range of biscuits and bread products in order to put yourself off your tea.

4.30pm

You will be shown into the living room/gaming suite, where a Nintendo 64, loaded with GoldenEye in two-player mode, and hooked up to a 1995 Nicam television awaits you. Play of at least two hours (or until your head hurts) is recommended.

6.30pm

To close the day, dinner will be served. You will be expected to sit at the table, turn the television off, talk about your day, and complain about the meal.

A Valentine’s Day for Singletons

romanceSingle, bitter sad-sack this Valentine’s Day? Never fear. Use this timetable to perfectly replicate being in a relationship.

7.30 pm the previous evening

Take some female garments and fling them indiscriminately around your bedroom.

9am

Get up and make yourself a romantic breakfast, complete with roses, sparkling wine and a clumsy attempt at poetry.

12.45pm

Get dressed. Go out to your car and proceed to rev the engine and honk the horn for half an hour.

1.30pm

Drive into town. Remember to open the door for yourself like a gentleman.

1.45pm

Walk around several clothes shops in utter misery.

3.45pm

Sink three pints at the first opportunity. Tell yourself that if you were any sort of boyfriend you’d be in the Maldives in a five-star hotel and not in some dingy pub. Adopt a hang-dog expression.

4.30pm

Tell yourself you’re overreacting, that you hate Valentine’s Day anyway and admit that you can’t be bothered with any of it and you only go along with it to make yourself happy.

4.31pm

Say sorry.

4.32pm

Have another pint.

4.55pm

Remember that you’ve got the car. Swear under your breath. Assure yourself that there’s no problem, that was part of the plan, and you’ll get home in style, whatever the cost.

8pm

Ignore Burger King, Pizza Hut and all the other places you actually want to visit and take a table in the newly opened haute cuisine restaurant next door.

Ask for a bottle of champagne and tell yourself that you can order whatever you want. Pretend not to be horrified when the bill arrives. Leave a large tip to impress yourself with your generosity.

10pm

Upon returning from the restaurant, ignore your desire to watch the football, play the guitar, etc. Instead put on your least favourite romantic film and hold in flatulence to the point of agony.

12.15am

Wrap your entire duvet around six freshly-filled hot water bottles.

12.30am

Gingerly get into bed without disturbing them, cover one foot with the remaining duvet and drift off into a bad-tempered, indigestion-riddled sleep.