pssst – sample entry

The following is a sample entry to the first OWNERS CLUB competition. It’s OK but not that memorable. I didn’t want to set the bar too high. Twenty kilometres from the end of an early season 200, near the Herfordshire-Cambridgeshire line, rolling out of Litlington to join the A505 for a short stretch, I started to feel a little jaded – a normal feeling for a fat, lazy, old bloke, at that stage of a ride, at that time of the year – as if my bike were stuck to the road.

The following is a sample entry to the first OWNERS CLUB competition. It’s OK but not that memorable. I didn’t want to set the bar too high.

ONE THORN TWO TUBES

Twenty kilometres from the end of an early season 200, near the Herfordshire-Cambridgeshire line, rolling out of Litlington to join the A505 for a short stretch, I started to feel a little jaded – a normal feeling for a fat, lazy, old bloke, at that stage of a ride, at that time of the year – as if my bike were stuck to the road.

As I prepared to swing onto the dual-carriageway there was a nasty bump as the front wheel hit a pot-hole. Within a few metres I realised I was running on the rim, the tyre had gone pop.

The hole in the road didn’t seem that big – but hey – no big deal. The name plate for the side road provided a handy leaning post while I flipped off the front-tyre. No need to remove the wheel on a pretentious Burrows bike where the hub is mounted on one side only, like a Vespa.

Pumping the old tube confirmed it was a compression puncture, a snake-bite. I installed a new one, inflated it, remounted the tyre, remounted the bike and pushed on into the frosty darkness.

Twenty minutes later, labouring up a hill I noticed my front wheel was softening, again. This time the failure was harder to trace, a tiny pinhole from a thorn trapped in the tyre. It was – I realised – the second puncture from the little vegetable item. The first compression puncture had happened because my tyre was already perforated and half empty.

A penalty of the pretentious bike is two wheels of different sizes. I’d run out of good small tubes and thought for a moment about jamming a ‘559’ in the ‘349’ cavity and trusting it to last the remaining ten miles, then remembered the old adage ‘a puncture is not an emergency’. I patched the last of my little tubes. The low temperature meant the solvent took a while to evapourate, during which time I tried to warm my feet with crazy moonlit dancing.

I was close enough to the time-limit to be watching the clock. The second stop – feeling the inside of the tyre like Hellen Keller, solitary glue sniffing, rattling my cleats on the glistening frosted tarmac – took nearly twenty minutes.

Next time you get a compression puncture from a surprisingly small impact, especially if you were finding the preceding kilometre unexpectedly hard work, double-check the snake-bite didn’t come because a previous puncture had deflated the tube to the point where it could no longer keep the rim above the road. That way you’ll limit yourself to one tube per thorn.

pssst – owners club competition no.1

There are many good things about cycling, two personal favourites are pain and dissappointment, another is that random happenstance, the puncture. Too many people these days are so frightened of this inevitable failure that they end up riding around on tyres whose casings are so hard they may as well be rolling solid rubber, like it was 1885.

“My tyres and tubes are doing fine but the air is showing through.”

Hank Williams

A couple of months ago Simon Baddely sent a link to a post on his – always interesting and thoughtful – web-log, ‘Democracy Street’. The story features a pleasant and diverting puncture…

“…always a satisfying procedure when time’s unimportant”

It got me thinking. Is it time for a bit of team-building and knowledge sharing amongst readers* of this screed?

There are many good things about cycling, two personal favourites are pain and dissappointment, another is that random happenstance, the puncture. Too many people these days are so frightened of this inevitable failure that they end up riding around on tyres whose casings are so hard they may as well be rolling solid rubber, like it was 1885.

It’s true that a badly timed flat can be inconvenient but a well planned schedule really needs to allow a few minutes for this kind of thing. As living legend Mike ‘Barcelona Mike’ Burrows, the wizard of Rackheath has observed:-  “A puncture is no worse than tea with your in-laws”.

When did you last back-up your hard drive?

First ever OWNERS CLUB contest.

  • Please send in your best puncture story.
  • No length limit but if it’s over 700 words it better be very, very interesting.
  • The story can be educational, share your mistakes so others don’t have to make them. Here’s an example.
  • The story can be happy, did a puncture enable you to meet the love of your life? stumble on a secret swimming spot? discover a fifty-pee in the gutter?
  • The story can be remarkable in any sense but it must be trueish and must feature a puncture.
  • Entries may be published – in part or fully – on owntheroad.cc but all rights will remain with you the author.
  • Attach text and any supporting images – non-proprietary formats preferred – to an email and send it to…
  • patrick@londonschoolofcycling.co.uk.
  • with the subject line “pssst”.
  • The judges decision is final.
  • There will be a mystery prize or – if the quality is up to it – mystery prizes.
no expense spared photo-shoot

*Readers of owntheroad.cc  =  ‘Owners’ [thanks to Lydia for this neat coinage.]

Doorstep adventures

November, December are sweet months in the Northern hemisphere, reflecting on what you managed last year, imagining future adventures; the period before you have to try and match dreams to reality and risk getting ground between the two.

“If Winter comes can Spring be far behind?”

Percy Bysshe Shelley

November, December are sweet months in the Northern hemisphere, reflecting on what you managed last year, imagining future adventures; the period before you have to try and match dreams to reality and risk getting ground between the two.

image by Jamie Wignal

The good news for people who live in London and like to start bicycle journeys from their front door is that, in 2013, there will be no clash between the Dunwich Dynamo and London-Edinburgh-London. In fact the traditional Saturday night spin to the beach comes seven days before Albion’s premier touring test, making it an ideal final shakedown if the grand out-and-home to the Athens of the North is in your programme.

I would recommend bike racing to anyone as an excellent route to self-reliance and contentment. If you’ve ever been in a bike race everything else tends to seem comfortable and easy.

The problem with bike racing is that almost all participants end up losing. Non-competitive time-trials are much more forgiving. All you have to do is cover the course, inside the time limit, and you get the same medal, the same entry in your palmarès, as the fastest finisher who may have come in two days before you and had time to feed, sleep and go out training, before you were back in the hutch.

On a gentle downhill, on the last morning of the 1995 Paris Brest, I dozed off. In my experience this produces a sharp alarm-signal, which I assume originates from the spirit-level mechanism in your ear. I woke to find myself toppling to the right, and fortunate enough to be running through a village with a tarmac footpath beside the road, and a dropped kerb in exactly the right place to allow a comedy, recovery swerve up onto the sidewalk. It was early, the little town was quiet, nobody minded, but I took the hint and stopped for coffee.

In the cafe flicking through a newspaper on the counter – as tired pilgrims straggled past – a good-news, picture story caught my eye, featuring the great ride’s first finishers triumphantly rolling in. Even in my battered, sleep-deprived state I was struck by the charming novelty of reading – in yesterday’s paper – the provisional result of an event thousands – including myself – were still enjoying.

‘special-needs’ start for L.E.L. 2005. Does it get more glamourous than this?

London-Edinburgh-London goes the pretty way and stretches to 1418 kilometres, close to 900 miles. If that sort of distance sounds impossibly arduous remember the time-limit – 116 hours and 40 minutes – is based on an average speed of 12 kilometres per hour. If you can average 16 kilometres – ten miles – an hour that leaves you six hours a day for sleeping, sit-down feeds and sociable networking.

These kind of events are less physical challenges than tests of efficiency and determination. If you pass you’ll become one of those happy people who say – without any sense of boasting or bravado – “…it’s only 200 kilometres.”

…97.3 per cent?

In the UK there is suppressed demand for cycling. There are people who want to travel by bicycle who are prevented, or limited, by the threat and severance consequent on the current acceptance of motor-dependence and hyper-mobility.

In the UK there is suppressed demand for cycling. There are people who want to travel by bicycle who are prevented, or limited, by the threat and severance consequent on the current acceptance of motor-dependence and hyper-mobility.
There’s a cliched discourse stemming from this unfortunate circumstance that relies on an unstated, unexamined faith that most – maybe all – of the people who don’t currently travel by bike are in some precipitous pre-cycling state, only waiting for conditions to change so they can start riding.

For example here’s a reader’s comment from earlier in the year…

“…the argument is that bike lanes should be good enough that all cyclists will want to use them, you, me and the 98% of the population who do not ride bikes right now, and never will unless they feel safe.”

A wise and effective comrade once gave me the following advice:- “In politics never use the word ‘should’.” ‘Could’ has the ring of truth, ‘must’ is dynamic but ‘should’ always sounds ineffectual, even desperate.

The compelling attraction of the ‘98 per cent are pre-cyclists‘ theory is that it’s adherents can envisage a future in which bicycle paradise arrives without attritional street-by-street struggle. If you believe in the ’98 percent’ theory the political question of what streets are for is replaced by technical issues. If only we can get the policy sorted the rest will be coasting downhill, because really everyone is just waiting to throw a leg over their rod and hit the rad-weg.

When others have no interest in stuff that we feel is very important there’s temptation to project our own feelings on to their blank apathy. I used to imagine that people didn’t cycle because – back in the era of the vanishing tribe – cycle-traffic was definitely being designed out of the system.

In the very early 1990’s – when fixed gears were for old codgers and Mountain Bikes still a new idea – I was writing for, long-gone, ‘New Cyclist’. A quarterly, that became a bi-monthly, that became a monthly, which carried the portentous sub-title “the magazine for all cyclists”; like working on the magazine for all shoe-wearers or all air-breathers.

Transport was a hot subject, ‘Roads to Prosperity’ the biggest programme of highway construction since the Romans was going down in flames under a pincer movement from disobedient eco-warriors and Betjemanesque conservatives. The Conservative Government’s attitude to public-transport was not unlike Count Dracula’s feelings for garlic so it seemed like bicycle paradise might be just over the next hill.

symbolic redevelopment of the secretary of state for Transport’s house in Muswell Hill

I had the innocent idea of surveying Members of the House of Commons to uncover their attitudes to cycling. Who rode, who rode where and what were their attitudes? All of them – except Gerry Adams the abstentionist Sinn Féin member for West Belfast – had current experience of London streets, where cycling was the most reliable mode.

I can’t recall the exact details. It was all many kilometres ago, maybe one day I’ll stooge up Watling Street to Colindale and recapture the full story. Younger readers may be interested to know that ‘going to the library’ is what people in olden days did when they wanted to find out about something, like Wikipedia only less convenient and more reliable.

The MP’s questionnaire was multiple-choice and elicited the desired response. On the cover of the magazine the editor was able to write…

“Why MPs want to cycle but are too frightened.”

What happened next? Was there a cross-party surge of political will to provide the space, green-time and finance to reconfigure the World so the timid souls could hit the streets? It began to dawn on me that things might be more complicated than I had imagined.

It’s not even that some people want conditions for cycle traffic improved and others don’t, for many the dissonance is personal. Here’s an instructive parable from the turn of the Century lifted from the Guardian

“For years residents of two Somerset villages complained to police about motorists speeding past their homes.

When a police speed trap was set up on a 30mph stretch of the A368 between Compton Martin and Bishop Sutton, the locals were delighted.

Their euphoria turned to shame when it emerged yesterday that a large proportion of the drivers caught speeding by the laser camera were the very same villagers.

Of 133 motorists caught in a fortnight, 30 were from the two villages. They are being prosecuted by police along with the others.

Sergeant Mike Smalley, who set up the trap, said: “It’s often the case that we catch a high proportion of locals, and some of those will have expressed concern about speeding in the first instance.”

Pensioner John Wilkes, who has lived near Compton Martin for 18 years, described it as being more like Piccadilly Circus than a peaceful village.

“I think local people should have known better. We are complaining about speeding, but how can you complain if you don’t abide by it? It has got a lot worse as time has gone by.”

Katie Court, whose partner was one of those caught, said she thought that the lorries were more of a problem. “My husband was only doing 35mph and I don’t think he deserved it.”

98 per cent?

Top class association football has recently been rocked by problems of bad behaviour. Louis Suarez, John Terry, Mark Clattenburg – Serbian ultras, have all attracted allegations, in some cases proven and punished, for racist abuse and language.

WARNING

THE FOLLOWING CLIP CONTAINS SCENES OF MEN – SOME QUITE UNPHOTOGENIC – SINGING TUNELESSLY. If you can’t identify the melody it’s taken from the traditional air ‘Robin van Persie he scores when he wants’.

Top class association football has recently been rocked by problems of bad behaviour. Louis Suarez, John Terry, Mark Clattenburg – Serbian ultras, have all attracted allegations, in some cases proven and punished, for racist abuse and language.

Boisterous celebrations of the criminal conduct of André Clarindo dos Santos have attracted no such opprobrium. Andre – an attack-minded left-back signed by Arsenal FC in 2011 from Fenerbahçe in Turkey for €7 million – was late for work one morning last Summer when he was clocked doing 220 kph in his Maserati GranTurismo. A high speed chase ensued. He escaped prison by a combination of grovelling apology and our country’s indulgent attitude to motor-crime.

Next time you hear some naive – so self-righteous you might imagine he (they’re mostly men) invented the bicycle himself – wittering about the 98 per cent who don’t cycle because the bollards are in the wrong places don’t forget he’s talking – amongst others – about the bulky Brazilian International and all those who glory in his foolishness.

In keeping with our editorial policy of not too much moaning it must be added that the blokes in the choir are not all that serious and if nice people like us find them offensive – even scary – that’s exactly what they want. If you ran over one of their kiddies in your Range Rover they’d probably think it was ‘bang out of order” or even “a right fuckin’ liberty.”

Also there is free secure, off-street match-day parking at the Emirates Stadium. Which you don’t – yet – get here.

And also the Andre Santos song may not be heard too often in future. As the young fellow has upset the goonerati with a serious – maybe irredeemable – wardrobe faux-pas.


Now that’s really bad behaviour.

coincidence in the Australian diaspora

>Good to hear that Wiggins’ latest crash – though not a ‘walk-away’ – isn’t going to compromise his prospects for next years’ Giro and that it also seems like Shane Sutton – who went down the next morning – will not have to follow Sean Yates into retirement. Hard luck when you have to quit a fantastic job only because you used to share hotel rooms with the World’s leading

“I don’t want to be a speed hump”

Under current conditions there are plenty of riders, plenty of would-be riders, who don’t have the necessary combination of control skills, technical knowledge and social presence to own the road with sufficient confidence to enjoy sharing it with others using clumsier modes. Children are one obvious example of this.

A clichéd response from someone who rides but doesn’t like it, or would like to ride more but is put off by people in cars, or would like to ride but is fearful of current conditions – to the idea that a person on a bike can be an active and civilising influence on the prevailng, often brutal, road traffic environment – goes something like…

“I don’t want to be used as traffic calming.”

This is a sensible position that does not need to be defended.

Under current conditions there are plenty of riders, plenty of would-be riders, who don’t have the necessary combination of control skills, technical knowledge and social presence to own the road with sufficient confidence to enjoy sharing it with others using clumsier modes. Children are one obvious example of this.

It’s also much easier to be a civilising influence on streets whose layout makes riding a bicycle obviously advantageous. In places where the highway network is engineered to accommodate and enable motor-dependence it takes more skill, morale and operatic presence to defend a space and there are usually fewer opportunities to help others grow.

In a ‘traffic’ context active citizenship – taking the courtesy and consideration considered normal in motor-free space out into the dog-eat-dog World of motor-dependance – is an opportunity not an obligation.

There is no shame in not being able to, not wanting to, or not enjoying, riding in current conditions. Even the World’s greatest living Welsh person has been quoted thus…

“I certainly wouldn’t fancy riding across Vauxhall Cross or Elephant and Castle in rush hour…”

Nicole Cooke

Olympic Champion 2008

tougher than you’ll ever be

“I don’t want to be used as traffic calming.” Is a sensible position that does not need to be defended but the position is also passive and asocial.

There is a lot of inertia in the cheap-energy economy. Motor-dependence has been a dominating social force for most of the last half Century and we are only just emerging from a period when questioning the idea – that everyone is, aspires to be, or thinks like, a motorist – put you beyond the pale of sanity.

Even in the current new era of mixed messages it’s easy for we – with a critique of motor-dependance – to become demoralised, bitter and apathetic. This may be especially true if going for a bike ride is more of an ordeal than a convenient and utilitarian outlet for frustration. More of a horror than a chance to take a rest, from cooking up grand theories of how best to enforce bicycle paradise. More of a nightmare than an opportunity to pretend, for a few jolly kilometres, that the happy day has already dawned.

Changing the World one bike ride at a time may be like trying to stop a bulldozer with a pea-shooter but if the peas are hard enough and we fire enough…

…well it can’t do any harm can it?

Ron Binns’ extended series of pessimistic prophesies  – “What won’t bring about mass cycling…” can be extended to infinity.

Nothing will make people travel by pedal cycle until they decide it’s what they want to do. Once that’s what they’ve decided nothing will stop them. Trying to reduce this circular statement of the obvious, to any kind of Newtonian equation, is like investigating the workings of a watch with a 15lb hammer.

Riding like you own the road won’t bring about mass cycling. Helping others do likewise won’t either. But it can change their World. Riding a bike on roads busy with motor-traffic can be free assertion training.

Ron denounces cycle training because it’s subjects…

“…must be taught how, as a cyclist, to adapt your behaviour to this [hostile and dangerous] environment.”

Well it wouldn’t be much use if it taught people how best to behave in circumstances other than those that currently prevail, would it? Ron’s critique of cycle training echoes the old joke about a village idiot giving a stranger directions.

“If I were you I wouldn’t start from here.”

“I don’t want to be used as traffic calming.” Is a sensible position that does not need to be defended. You can’t calm traffic without calming people. Attacking those who aspire to calm and civilise other people – just because you don’t want to and you know they are very unlikely to hit back – is neither kind nor progressive.

safe or popular?

Last week I posted good news, that the temporary buildings on Leyton Marsh are down. A couple of hours later Ron Binns announced a suspension of his prolific web-log “crap cycling and walking in Waltham Forest” from which the story was originally lifted. A sorry coincidence as Ron’s angry diary was a useful source of intelligence from the Essex side of the River Lee or Lea.

Last week I posted good news, that the temporary buildings on Leyton Marsh are down. A couple of hours later Ron Binns announced a suspension of his prolific web-log “crap cycling and walking in Waltham Forest” from which the story was originally lifted. A sorry coincidence as Ron’s angry diary was a useful source of intelligence from the Essex side of the River Lee or Lea.
Ron’s wide-ranging commentary sometimes featured short motion-pictures from the currently booming, head-mounted-camera-genre.

In January 2011, he used one to illustrate the ineffectual nature of cycle-training because according to Ron…

“…the more you cycle, the more you are exposed to risk, and the more likely you are to have these unpleasant experiences. YouTube is crammed with videos like this one:”

 

and two months later

“…cycling will never have mass appeal on the vehicle-dominated streets of Greater London, this short video will explain why.”

The two clips feature similar episodes, they both begin in a way that will be familiar to anyone who rides regularly in urban Britain, and is experienced enough to keep out of the gutter or the door-zone.

In both clips the camera-operator is proceeding innocently when a motorist behind starts blowing their horn because they want to overtake, even though traffic conditions mean no advantage is to be gained by such a manoeuvre. Almost immediately pedallist and sofa-jockey are forced to stop. Shouty, sweary exchanges follow.

Ron conflates these sorry little scenes of immaturity and discourtesy with deadly threat. Even though there’s no danger apparent in either.

To be safe on the road other people need to take notice of you. When you demand the attention of others you’re not in control of how they will react. Some might admire your choice of trousers. Others may start chewing their lips and thinking aloud “dozy fucking mare should be riding on the fucking pavement.”

In either case you’re not in danger. When someone following in a car blows their horn to express frustration they’re telling you three things…

  • …they’re thinking about you.
  • …they know they’re not allowed to run you over.
  • …you’re safe.

(Alternatively they may be trying to tell you that you’ve just dropped a glove, but that’s another story.)

A key skill in riding comfortably in city traffic is separating two issues:-

  • The social hazard of upsetting disappointed MDVs.
  • The real physical danger of being in a crash.

Perhaps Ron’s confusion of these two distinct categories explains his pessimistic view of cycle travel in London? Maybe fear of social conflict explains why his ‘Crap Cycling’ web-log didn’t take comments?

In his critique of cycle training Ron reveals…

“I find the concept of ‘defensive cycling’ quite an interesting one, because it tacitly accepts that there is an offensive going on. And cycle training is basically all about accommodating yourself to the mass-motorized battlefield.”

Anyone unfortunate enough to have tried to move a motor-vehicle with four or more wheels around, on streets busy with other motors, understands that you have no choice. You have to be pushy. If you’re not selfish you won’t get anywhere. Driving a car in a city busy with others trying to do the same thing is to join battle with your peers. Motor-traffic has a temper of it’s own.

One of the many pleasant things about city cycling is that – while you need the skill, knowledge and chutzpah to control the space around you – the flexibility and efficiency of your chosen mode means you don’t need to get involved in the battle. You can rise above it, defend the space around you but be generous to those less fortunate, less imaginative than yourself.

The main observation from Ron’s two clips is that – in both cases – the auteur looses his calm and ends up shouting and swearing. This incontinence risks dangerous escalation, surrenders the moral high ground, and lets slip any chance to promote growth and self-awareness in the agitated MDV.

If – when I’m riding my bike – somebody following in a car starts making a fuss because they can’t pass, the default is to check that there’s no source of danger present (and that they’re not trying to attract your attention because you just dropped a glove) then ignore the foolishness. Then – when it’s safe to let them pass and if there’s space enough ahead that they won’t be in the way, to let them by to continue their futile hurry with a courteous thank-you wave.

If you’re feeling frisky, generous and sociable you can jump to the right and wave them through on the inside, like they were your team car going ahead to support a teammate in a break, then you can drop into the turbulence behind the car and follow – for the usually very short distance – until they are forced to slow or stop by sheer volume of traffic.

You’re then nicely placed – on the right of the car to engage them in cheerful conversation.

This is my best recollection of an exemplary exchange in the Queensbridge Road, E8, last Winter.

Me: You alright mate?

MDV: You should keep to the left.

Me: No, I was riding there because I didn’t want you to try and squeeze past where the road was narrow.

MDV: If you ride in the middle that’s how cyclists get run over.

Me: No they get run over if they get too far to the left. People don’t see them and turn left and run them down. That is a nice car.

MDV: Thanks

Me: Do you race it?

MDV: (slightly confused pause) No.

Me: If I had a car like that I’d want to take it to the racetrack and see if I could rip the tyres off the rims. (traffic-lights change) Have a good weekend

MDV: Yeah you too.

The target is to be safe and popular.

never ride in the door-zone

The ‘door-zone’ is the corridor of uncertainty, where the doors of parked vehicles may be swung into your path. Never ride in the door-zone, or if it’s the only place to make progress, slow down.

The ‘door-zone’ is the corridor of uncertainty, where the doors of parked vehicles may be swung into your path. Never ride in the door-zone, or if it’s the only place to make progress, slow down.
If you follow this advice the most common crash that afflicts people who try to travel by bike in London will never happen to you.

The primary function of the highway is for people to pass and repass. If somebody wants to use that space to unload a vehicle they need to check first that they won’t endanger anyone else. If somebody throws a door into your way that’s their big mistake. They are in the wrong.

The question is:- “Do you want to rely on others for your safety or do you want to take responsibility for yourself?

Never ride in the door zone. Make others swear on whatever they hold sacred to never ride in the door-zone.

Riding outside the door-zone means you may delay others who want to go faster than you and can’t get past. The brutal truth is that if they want to be ahead of you they ought to have got up ten seconds earlier in the morning. The point is not to delay or annoy others but don’t put yourself in danger because others want to pretend to be in a hurry.

It’s good – for humane and pragmatic reasons – to be popular. It’s good to be safe. If you have to choose between the two which comes first? As they say in the USA – it’s a no-brainer.

A crash doesn’t happen when you upset somebody else. Deliberate road-rage assaults are rare enough to be international news. A crash happens when one or more people move purposefully into a space they anticipate will be empty, only to find – too late – that it isn’t.

That’s why it’s safest to ride where other people expect traffic to be, where they look for other traffic.

super-storm Sandy

weather event blowing in New Yorker and noted amateur stunt artist Casey Neistat rode Downtown to see the sights. His record of the trip is a timely reminder that simple systems are more robust, harder to defeat. Apparently in the super-storm’s chaotic aftermath bicycles are proving the only reliable form of mechanical transport. There’s a surprise.

With a ‘once-in-a-Century’ weather event blowing in New Yorker and noted amateur stunt artist Casey Neistat rode Downtown to see the sights.

His record of the trip is a timely reminder that simple systems are more robust, harder to defeat. Apparently in the super-storm’s chaotic aftermath bicycles are proving the only reliable form of mechanical transport. There’s a surprise.

Once on a Critical Mass in London the rabble pulled up outside Buckingham Palace. When a tall-biker started riding around inside the artificial pool around the fountain I suddenly realised what those contrivances are really designed for. If this...

…individual had one he’d have got through with dry feet. The fact that modern day flood water isn’t just clean rain, river or ocean may account for the low-grade finish on your average, everyday tall-bike?

Once upon a time nature was our adversary, a buffer for our excesses. Not any more. You don’t even need to be convinced that man-made climate-change exists, just asking the question – “Is this storm an act of God or was it triggered by the cheap-energy economy?” – changes our philosophical relationship to the World.

During most of human history the problem was furious bears in the un-mapped woods. Our organisation consisted of building a nice warm campfire to scare away the bears. Now the bears are our furry friends and the threat comes only from the campfire.