I thought I’d grab you with that amazing stock photo. Tricked you, this is an article about bike safety. Okay, it was never exactly my plan to publish anything on cycling safe. I’m no bike connoisseur. I thought I was going to stick to gigs and interviews and let someone more sensible fill in the gaps. In an ironic twist of fate, the fact that I’m not more sensible is what has sprung this article into action.
So last Thursday it was ArtBox and PostBox – for the few of you that have luckily escaped our constant stream of spam via Fallowfield Students Group, our Facebook page, and any of the more lame members of our team’s Facebooks (joking), ArtBox was our first public event aimed at inspiring artists, giving them a platform, and raising money for Manchester Mind. In turn, PostBox was the after-party at Indigo. Both events went pretty well. Sometimes I even allow myself to say that we ‘smashed it’. In the runup to these events, I had a deadline and a whole lot of organising to do, patching up faults and flaws, booking live music acts, planning decor, etc. etc. I’d had about six hours sleep over the course of about two days. After PostBox I didn’t sleep until 1 pm on Friday. I was up again at 3 pm to see my friend Sam (shout out Mr. Jackson). At 3 am on Friday night I managed to scrabble back about seven hours of rest on my friend’s sofa, mid-birthday party.
I take it that you’re uninterested in a recount of my entire week, but my basic point is that in the week beginning the 10th of December, I’d only gotten thirteen hours of sleep in about six days, and given the amount of pink gin involved in the latter few, there were a lot of substances swimming about in the temple that is my body. This ain’t no sob story, not an intentional one anyway – but had I reflected on this in the moment, I might have been able to avoid wiping myself out on the road and saved my precious, precious face. (never fear – it got off easy with just a couple of scratches).
Hopped up on the day’s discovery that Funraising had raised £1000+ for Manchester Mind, and keen on seeing off the term with some friends, I was essentially speeding down Kingsway and made a snap decision to turn left off the road and onto the pavement without any gradual slowing. I’m not really sure what happened next exactly, but I found myself launched onto my side and suddenly underneath my bike. I stumbled around the pavement for a bit and was luckily able to call my friend who was kind enough to meet me and walk me back to his house. Although for a brief moment I had thought I’d paralysed myself, I was lucky enough to come away from the accident unscathed for the most part. Uninjured relative to many cyclists, all I physically had to show for it was some cuts, grazes and a bruised elbow. What I’m trying to tell you though, is to make sure you’ve got some bloody sleep and that you’ve been looking after yourself before you cycle because it’s literally SO STUPID not to – your mind is probably wide open to making some pretty bloody idiOTIC decisions. If you make sure you’re sober-minded and well-rested, you’re a whole lot less liable to a high impact, high-stress incident on the road. What this means is that your arm will be fully functioning, so you won’t take a thousand years to get changed, and more importantly, you’ll be able to avoid short-term PTSD which I can tell you is no fun. It’s win-win really. Almost- the things you’ll lose are a stylish sling and the ability to up your street cred by telling people ‘you should see the other guy’.
Feeling sheepish, after Saturday’s trauma, I messaged my friend Toby Ralph about his incident last year. He’d told me before that he started writing poetry after his crash, something which I’d found really interesting, but hadn’t fully taken in. Having experienced something that was probably not even a tenth as bad, I had a new understanding of how affecting cycling accidents could be. Toby’s incident left him needing fifteen stitches: ‘I was just cycling into the peak district with a few buds and my front wheel just
went. There was a metal bit hanging off my mudguard that had done it – it ended up on other side of the wheel, [and] just completely ripped through it. I went over the handlebars and got knocked out for like 20 mins and woke up with some people around me’.
In my opinion, this was not a predictable incident, and it’d be frankly ridiculous to put any blame on Toby. However, in light of a humble comment, (‘my mudguard was fucked, shoulda sorted that out’) my awareness of bicycle maintenance has been reaffirmed.
I’m the worst at looking out for myself when it comes to practical matters like these – I didn’t even buy lights for my bike for about two months – and that was only because I was at the bike shop after a week-long period of high-risk cycling after an apparently vital bolt made my front wheel extremely vulnerable. However, having heard multiple nightmare stories about incidents on the curry mile, I can see how this is verrrry irresponsible behaviour. It only takes one whizz down the curry mile to wipe yourself or someone else out. I was enlightened to this by bike enthusiast Nicolae Toader, who then shared some insight: ‘well that’s the thing, on the cycle path people might jump in front of ya at any point so its better if u go slow’. For a speedy guy like Nic, there’s no option but to flee the comfort of the cycle lane: ‘I personally just go in the lane with the cars, cause the traffic is slow and single file anyway or I avoid it altogether. And I know other people do as well’.
For those of you that don’t have megatrons to ride, make sure you’ve got a bell!! And I hope you’re ringing it once you’ve caught some Zs. I’m sorry, I know the Funraising ‘story’ promises that we’ll never get preachy. I guess I’m breaking this promise just this once because road accidents are scary!!!
Lots of love and stay safe this Christmas,
*P.S Pink gin is probably the best thing I’ve ever invested in.