Friday, 7 August 2009


The speedometer cable on my bike broke two days ago.

Unable to know my speed, traffic cameras became unquantifiable and terrifying dangers. Red lights – where bikes routinely speed away before dozy car drivers have even cranked into first gear – became a pointless exercise in bravado. The world of driving to the speed limit completely disappeared. No longer could I know if I was even within the law. How strangely dependent we are in the comfort of rules.

And yet, what a feeling of liberation. Without the aspiration of speed and quite unable to compete, I became totally dependent upon my fellow travellers. The only gauge available was a measure of trust. Trust that they would act within the law. Every journey felt like a lumbering caravan travelling through the desert as we wound our way along lane, high street and dual carriageway – with cars continually peeling off to their destination, whilst others joining in an ever meandering ebb and flow of ordered chaos. No longer was pole position wanted. We had become a community. An inter-dependent whole, held together purely by human trust.

Even so, as each speed camera approached, my doubts emerged. I searched the faces of my fellow travellers looking for honesty and goodness. It’s a strange feeling. There are no moral chins, honest eyebrows or truthful noses – just the subtly-glimpsed mannerisms that might betray a lurking gambler’s streak or the just slightly too casual cornering of a Chardonnay mum.

I have to tell you now that my fellow travellers all passed the test. Sure, outsiders weaved their separate ways around and between us. But we continued, everyone an upright and decent member of our community. Each in their own cocooned little world, yet all travelling as one.

I tried rather unconvincingly to explain this to a mechanic called Miro at a local garage. He smiled awkwardly. “No worries – you’ll be straight back on pole today”.