Back in the saddle……… and hating it!

Although the only running I have done in the last 6 weeks was the 5K Irish Jog last week, that doesn’t mean I have been siting around doing nothing the whole time. That was the case for the first 3 weeks, but the last 3 have consisted of breaking out the bike and going for a few miles on that 3-4 times a week.

As a kid I used to love going out on my bike, I would watch the Tour De France on TV and then jump on my racer and pretend I was time trialing like Greg LeMond. I then got into Mountain Biking, and I still enjoy going off-roading when we are back home in Scotland. I am not as fearless as I once was, but it is still a lot of fun and a good workout.

The same cannot be said for the last few weeks of road riding. It hasn’t been terrible, and if it was all I could do because of injury or for some other reason I am sure I would get used to it. However, there is just something about cycling in Cayman that makes it an unpleasant experience.

It isn’t just the nutters you find driving the cars that pull out in front of you, cut you up, don’t give you enough space, knock your handlebars. You have to deal with them when you are running, albeit at a slower speed, the main problem is other cyclists!

There are a lot of them in Cayman, probably nearly as many that are serious about it as there are serious runners. There is a big difference between the two communities from what I can see though. Maybe it is the same everywhere, but the cyclists here are all ultra-competitive, they find it impossible to go on a training ride without it turning into a race. I am only talking about those that go out hunting in packs, there are lots of very pleasant people that wave and say good morning/afternoon/evening to runners that are out cycling on their own.

I had a particularly unpleasant experience with a bunch of these people last week. I was out for my long ride, and had just set off up through George Town, as I went past the port there was a group of about 10 riders who were just setting off, barely moving so I went past them. At the time I did think maybe I should just wait for them to go, or even turn around and head in the opposite direction, but decided to just carry on and do my own thing.

I pedalled on up towards West Bay, but it soon became apparant that I had made a mistake. The group had attached itself to my rear wheel. I wasn’t going exceptionally fast, 18-19mph, but they were sitting right behind me. I couldn’t understand why, as I wasn’t part of their group, I had never ridden with them before and I had gone past them and had quite a gap when they set off. Obviously they had decided they needed to chase me down.

The major problem occured as we reached the next roundabout, a car was pulling out onto the roundabout from my right as I approaced it, so I started to brake, unfortunately the numpties behind me weren’t paying attention at all so one of them crashed into my leg which then caused another to go over his handlebars and all hell broke loose as 3-4 of them went down.

I was shocked as it was the last thing I expected to happen. Surely they would have been paying attention to the junction up ahead, and would have known that a car was coming out? Obviously not! If I was shocked about that, I was dumbstruck when they all picked themselves up off the floor and started giving me abuse and telling me it was all my fault! According to them I either braked too soon, too much or too late. They couldn’t exactly get their stories straight, but the sentiment was that I should never be allowed to get on a bike again!

I thought this was out of order, but kepy my mouth shut as there were a lot of them and only one of me, and I was pretty sure I couldn’t outrun them on the bike! Although having said that, about half of the group were of the “more money than sense” cyclists we have a lot of here. These people spend 3,4 even $5K on their bike, have all the latest gear, but they weigh 250lbs+ and eat Burger King and KFC for fuelling.

The whole incident has left a very bad taste in my mouth, I do know some people that cycle here that are actually regular cyclists, they are sensible and level-headed and do just enjoy cycling for the actual act of cycling. The majority, though, especially those that ride around in packs like it is the TdF give everyone else a bad name.

It is the biggest difference between runners and cyclists that I can see. When I am out for a run I have my own pace and do my own thing. If there is someone in front of me I don’t instantly think “I have to beat them”, in fact I get quite embarrassed if I do have to overtake people! What makes cyclists like this I don’t know. All I do know is, once I have completed the bike section of the Duathlon I am competing in this week I won’t be getting it out again for a long, long time!