A bemusing moment at every Olympics is when an umpire disqualifies a walker, for not walking. Most find it laughable, but as someone who did little athletics as a child, I wish we had had those umpires at our school carnivals. What ignoramuses I had for teachers! Allowing my unwashed classmates to trot! There are rules around competitive walking, like always keeping one foot in touch with the ground.
But what if walk racing umpires overstepped their jurisdiction and started telling people they were disqualified for the way they walked to the bus? Imagine if they had whistles and blew them whenever they saw a brisk walk turn into a canter. Next they would be chastising jaywalkers, and people walking at night in dark clothes. They would be making press statements in walk-racing’s defence whenever someone walked into a bank with a gun. Before long, serious hikers, pilgrims on the Way of Saint James, and Walk Against Want, would be vying for governance of every small step of mankind. An absurd proposition.
But put pedals under our feet, and suddenly every commissaire or member of a day-glow social riding brigade wants to start waving their finger at us. They’ll say “Why aren’t you wearing a helmet?” or “Why are you wearing helmet?” They’ll chip us for not wearing lime green, or for wearing lime green, for not having a mirror, or for having a mirror, or for having the wrong tires for the surface we’re riding on. Give them a chance, and they would have us all wearing armbands, of their design.
We can laugh, but these are dangerous people—and I don’t just mean Bikes for Bibles, pictured above with those grins to remind us we’re going to hell. I mean any hyper vigilant rule maker using the bike as their vehicle for bossing others around. These folk are how they are, because they have undiagnosed borderline personality disorders. They also have time on their hands to get involved with the community, meet politicians, write letters to newspapers, and be the meddlesome loonies they are hardwired to be. And they absolutely laaarv codes of conduct.
They have gotten up my nose this week, with a letter from Cycling Australia, telling me it is a condition of membership (which is a condition of racing) that I adhere to their code of conduct whenever I ride. Specifically, their letter implies that riding my bakfiets home from the market, if that can be determined to be making me fitter—or in their words, giving me “training”—is an act for which I must wear a helmet, not the sun hat I sometimes prefer on hot summer days when I know I will be riding slowly. I could tell a judge I was avoiding skin cancer and be let off the hook. But the court of Cycling Australia have their own stick: they could ban me from racing.
So how to deal with these pillocks? I say, get them on board and give them the shit jobs. Keep them too busy to cause too much mischief. And recognise that whether as Suffragettes, hippies, or crusaders against plastic shopping bags, it has been this kind of annoying do gooder volunteering 20 hours each day handing out leaflets, etc., who has made the world great. I wish I knew a few pillocks right now, with Bike Hour just one week away. I still haven’t posted any flyers near the bike racks at work, as I had planned to do weeks before now.
I came up with Bike Hour because I don’t like other people’s organised rides, and because I don’t like organising rides either. But Bike Hour needs pillocks to get the word out there. What a shame pillocks aren’t enticed by an event that denies them the right to be bossy. This explains why Bike Hour has gone from being a media sensation twelve months ago, to a series of wry winks between lazy revolutionaries, such as myself. We just do the ride and post banal photos, as though our Bike Hour observance is some kind of joke. We’re not joking though. We are serious. But most of us accept Bike Hour needs a miracle, or perhaps a few pillocks, if it is every going to catch on. Perhaps you are the one who can write the code of conduct for Bike Hour?