The Lesser Spotted Pot-Bellied Lycra Man

Okay, I’ll be upfront: I do like a good rant. And when you spend as much time in the saddle as I do, you get plenty of time to think, and plenty of things to see things that can set off a rant.

So as it says on the side of the firework “light blue touch paper and retire a safe distance….”

This hasn’t exactly been an epic summer:  in fact May was a right damp squib, but June was quite jolly weatherwise: never hot, but pleasantly warm, and that brought out that endangered species the Lesser Spotted Pot-Bellied Lycra Man. If you look in the right places, the LSPBLM is not difficult to find. Probably sporting a full kit wanker Sky outfit (in support of the Murdoch funded, British passport holding Kenyan flag of convenience team), the LSPBLM huffs and puffs his way up and down the highways and byways, belly flopping as he goes, hence the name. He needs to be seen, so he will never be far from civilisation. The A77 south of Newton Mearns is prime LSPBLM territory.

Predominantly, the LSPBLM is a late riser. Rarely seen before 7am (but it does happen if you’re an obsessive spotter [like me]) they tend to venture out in the late afternoon and early evening, sporting their colours and their flash equipment. Wobble, wobble. Wobble, wobble, wobble…

Cometh the rain…

The LSPBLM is nowhere to be seen. Gone. In an instant! But where do they go? Do they take shelter under the nearest leafy tree, waiting for the rain to pass and the wind to drop? Or do they park the bike in the garage and parade about in the obligatory BMW, proof, as if ever you needed it, that these guys are only in it for the look. I have a theory about the LSPBLM: I think the fake tan washes off in the rain, for the Lesser Spotted Pot-Bellied Lycra Man is the full-kit wanker of the cycling world.

Y’know, in truth, I’m not sure how much more we’ll see of the LSPBLM this season. The weather has turned, the temperature has dropped off, the wind has picked up and the rain has returned. We are back to the normal West of Scotland climate. Fortunately however, my legs are waterproof so although I’m carting the heavy duty rain gear around with me on the back of the bike just in case, it’s staying exactly where it is pending a Fenwick Muir monsoon. Whereas Newton Mearns delivers posh drizzle, which barely qualifies as rain, although it’s still guaranteed to get you wet, its Fenwick Muir cousin is a different beast altogether. It’s 1/6 on to be lashing into your face as you struggle to maintain 9mph, and the waterproof gloves prove to be anything but. Ah yes, the Fenwick Muir on a dreich summer’s day… at least you can console yersel’ with the knowledge that it’s hot water, piped straight from the Lord’s own shower.

Next in the crosshairs of the week’s rantastic epic are East Renfrewshire Council, and they get it on three counts…

First up, the A77 cycle lane from Eastwood Toll to the Malletsheugh Inn  (now an Indian restaurant) is a disgrace: and it’s a disgrace in both directions! That three mile stretch is as good a slalom as you’ll find anywhere in Glasgow: potholes, ruts, glass, stones, sticks, gravel, leaves… and shopping trolleys. I emailed the council a month ago to complain that the cycle lane hasn’t been maintained in the 15 years that it’s been open, and to the best of my knowledge hasn’t seen a road sweeper in over six months (despite the fact that there’s one sitting idle every day up at the new half million pound housing scheme at the top of the hill, just in case a speck of mud makes it’s way out onto the carriageway – can’t have dirt on the BMW’s now, can we)?  I even have a reference number for my complaint: 862026. The official response said they would pass my email to the Roads department for their consideration: and you know what they’ve done? Re-painted the white lines for about a mile at the top end of the hill!!!! Swept the junk off  the road: nope. Fixed the ruts: nope. Fixed the potholes: nope. Just painted a few lines: here cyclists, risk life and limb over this nice white line. Utterly, utterly useless. And you wonder why people don’t use the facilities. For my sins, I’ve given up on the A77 cycle lane and moved across to the Mearns Road which runs parallel about half a mile away. Yes I hold up the traffic, particularly when I’m going uphill at 7mph, but the road surface does mean that I’m not risking my bike.

East Renfrewshire’s next epic fail is to convert about 600m of public footpath on one side of the road from Eastwood Toll roundabout to the new traffic lights at Church Road into a dual use pedestrian/bike lane. It crosses two road junctions and has a bus shelter halfway along the route. And when you get to the lights, it disappears. What is the point? I say again: what is the point of abusing 600m of pavement when the highway is already two lanes in each direction. (Oh, and by the way, is there a law that says that cyclists are not supposed to ride on the pavement? Yes, except when it suits the council in a box ticking exercise. Total waste of time and money. Fix some feckin’ potholes!!!

And finally, saving the best for last, we have the magic bus stop. As you approach Eastwood Toll roundabout from Giffnock, the road bends round to the left past a long bus pull in and a signal controlled pedestrian crossing just a few yards short of the roundabout. The pull in means that buses (and it is a busy bus route by the way) can get off the main carriageway. So what have the council done? They’ve move the bus stop (and the shelter) 20 yards down the road past the pull in, thereby ensuring that buses stop on the main carriageway, just short of the pedestrian crossing. Now, when you overtake a stationary bus, you can’t actually see what the lights are doing just round the corner. The relocation of that bus stop is as class a piece of beaurocratic incompetence as I’ve seen in a long time.

And so to the miles…

It’s been a steady week of moderately heavy miles (223) without breaking the bank. I’ve given up on trying to smash 250 miles in a week because I know my legs won’t take it. As things stand, the hamstring tendons in both knees are creaking, and I’m managing to get by, by moderating my effort and listening to my body. That’s a first!

The week has seen a second successive 900 mile month (June) and on the back of it, I broke through the 7000 mile barrier on Wednesday. Nice. Those 7000 miles represent the distance between Glasgow and Singapore, with 10 ascents of Mount Everest thrown in for good measure. Ten Mount Everests in ten months: that’s got a nice ring to it. Also, the daily average miles continue to climb (up past 36.5 now) as I explore new routes in both directions on my way in and out of work. It’s been a fun summer.

Last week was a difficult one: this one has been less so, quite possibly because the onset of the rainy season has seen the migration of the Lesser Spotted Pot-Bellied Lycra Man back to their natural habitat.

But the LifeCycle mon ain’t for giving up anytime soon….

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