real life cycling

Stra-vanity (part 2)

I, like many other men*, am capable of being an idiot.

Over the years I’d like to think I’ve got better.

When I was in my teens I was prone to being an idiot. In my twenties, I was likely to be an idiot. Then came the transition period of my thirties which led me here.

Merely capable of idiocy.

It’s in me, but largely under control.

There is now a part of my brain that can’t stop me thinking idiot thoughts, but kicks in at opportune moments and prevents me doing or saying idiotic things.

It leapt into action, as it happens, when I stumbled across this recent article in Cycling Weekly that confirmed Ballymena in Northern Ireland as having the fastest cyclists in the UK.

My idiot indicator had tripped into action within the first few lines of me reading it, with a gentle: “careful now…it’s not important.”

Which it’s not. It’s trivial. But my brain, unmediated, would have had me wailing, narrow minded and tribalist, like the worst kind of overly competitive Strava wanker.

Ticking off the mental checklist of reasons why the cyclists of Ballymena appear to be quicker than the cyclists of Lancaster: terrain; prevailing wind direction; quality of Tarmac; the fact that James Gullen spends most of his time being a pro-cyclist in continental Europe and takes his average speeds with him; the Brexit deal with the DUP…

Because I am a cyclist in Lancaster, and I know lots of very quick cyclists, and I am overly familiar with the intense physical pain that comes with trying to get anywhere near the top twenty of a Strava KOM, I have a vested interest in Lancaster being statistically full of fast cyclists.

But the older, more mature me, knows it’s meaningless.

Unless I’ve misjudged things, my wife did not marry me because she was overcome with a deep love for my Strava stats.

My friends are not my friends because they are impressed with my annual average speed for 2017.

My kids are still young enough to assume I could win the Tour de France if only I could get three weeks off work in July.

So what if I’m slower than many of the quickest cyclists in Lancaster, and in Ballymena there are even more, extra, additional cyclists that I’m slower than.

That might have bugged me in my twenties.

When I was an idiot.

Instead of merely capable of being an idiot.

* Women, I think, can be idiots too, but I feel less qualified to speak on their behalf.

(Image: via

17 comments on “Stra-vanity (part 2)

  1. This is one of your v best. You shouldn’t take that personally!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi, my name is Phil and I am officially an idiot

    Liked by 1 person

  3. pyrolithic

    It is okay, the stats are based on the start location so the quickest places are where there are lack of casual cyclists and people do not consider going, have you every considered Ballymena as a cycling holiday?, which allows the local riders to push up the average. So statistically Lancaster probably has the fastest cyclists, it is just all the outsiders that cannot handle your terrain dragging the average down. Maybe you need a wall.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I like your thinking. We’ll BUILD THE WALL. You know who’ll pay for it? Ballymena! 😂


      • As a proud Yorkshire man (is there any other type, really?) I’m all in favour of a wall around Lancashire. In fact, unlike Mexico, we might be prepared to pay for it. Get a quote so we can offer a collective, “ow much!?”

        Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, sounds like we’ve got a solid plan. Get yer hands in your pockets…


  4. I too, did wonder what was so special about that place. Is there a giant Velodrome in the centre of town? Is it a tiny town with a massive racing scene? Just what is it? The average speed for the town is above 20mph so it must be SOMETHING!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. drsmith1985

    Our kids are great for our egos when they’re little 🤗

    Liked by 1 person

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