Fordyce Maxwell: I didn’t think of poking a walking pole through his front spokes until he was past

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WHEN driving I try to show consideration to cyclists. Occasionally, because I’m male and no 
one is perfect, I get it wrong and a preoccupied cyclist – head down, going like the clappers to beat an amber light – gives me a wave to indicate that his fingers are undamaged.

WHEN driving I try to show consideration to cyclists. Occasionally, because I’m male and no 
one is perfect, I get it wrong and a preoccupied cyclist – head down, going like the clappers to beat an amber light – gives me a wave to indicate that his fingers are undamaged.

But mostly I try hard to get it right, as I do with horse riders by slowing down and giving them a wide berth.

There are several reasons. One, I don’t want to risk hurting fellow human beings; two, I don’t want to do anything illegal; three, I have no desire to ride a bike on a road, have had no desire to ride a horse anywhere since I was ten and admire anyone who does; four, it would be a pity to damage the car.

When on the receiving end as a walker, I find that most vehicle drivers show the same consideration. Naturally, we try to stick to hills, fields and coasts, but there are times when a country road has to be followed and the narrower it is the more careful walkers and drivers have to be.

Most, if not quite all, slow down, we step on to the verge if possible, genuinely friendly hands are raised and, feeling a slight glow of man’s humanity to man, we carry on.

All of the above explains why I was taken aback by a cyclist – which wasn’t quite what I called him afterwards – on a country road in East Lothian last week.

It took the edge, slightly, off what had been a super 15-miler on a day of blue sky and sunshine, pockets of snow still on the hills, lowland ploughing showing signs of drying out, ewes within a few weeks of lambing plodding about sedately, Crystal Rig wind turbines – yes, I think they’re great pieces of engineering – turning equally sedately, the silence broken only occasionally by whirring grouse or a plane.

The last couple of miles down into Stenton is narrow road. We heard a cyclist coming up behind, with a good two-thirds of the road on which to pass by, and half turned to exchange a friendly word. Instead we got an impatient gesture to step aside so that he didn’t have to deviate.

Too slow as usual, I didn’t think of poking a walking pole through his front 
spokes until he was past, muttering to himself, or ask 
if he had any preference for where else I might insert the pole.

And I thought bad feeling between cyclists and pedestrians was confined to city types? Live and learn, unfortunately. But I’ll know him the next time.

Twitter: @FordyceMaxwell

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