Lycra-clad berk Jonny Ensall knows he should do better, and invites you to curse his name.
Road users of London – sorry. This is a general apology issued by me, a douchebag cyclist, to you, anyone who has to put up with the kind of shit I pull day in day out on London’s streets. You know what I’m talking about: jumping red lights; heedlessly cutting into streams of nervous drivers; hopping up onto the pavement just to get ahead of a couple of Priuses. What’s the bloody point?
You just know that my bike cost loads of money, and weighs less than an iPhone. Which is pointless – of course – because the lock I have to cart around to protect it weighs a tonne. My bespoke cycling jersey with cutting edge reflective technology and built-in LED light is rendered half as effective by the fact I bought it in black. Black! The colour of the nighttime! What must you think when I parade around the office early in the morning, all red-faced and smug like I started the day by getting laid, when I’ve actually just hared it in from Bethnal Green and that’s the real reason why my junk is all sweaty?
I could go on. You could probably go on – citing all the reasons you look at blokes (and it is blokes) like me with the kind of derisory grimace usually reserved for former presenters of ‘Top Gear’. We’ve turned the capital’s road network into a daily version of the Pamplona bull run, but with black cab drivers instead of (marginally less irate) cattle.
It’s been this way for a year, ever since I plucked up the courage to start commuting by bike. I was hesitant… because of the whole death thing, you know. But the buzz grows on you; the joy of slipping past rows of log-jammed and rule-abiding vehicles (nerds!) and just squeezing through that closing gap between the 254 and the daydreaming Spanish tourist group. And then… whoosh I’m gone. Who was that douchebag? Who knows? I am not Ronnie Pickering, I’m the speck on the horizon.
Not to make excuses, but cycling in London does turn you into a bit of an arsehole. You learn quickly the look that says, ‘fuck you white van man, this is a 20mph road, too narrow to overtake, and I’m going at the speed limit’. And you know what, cars are the worst. People who use cars are the worst. Every time you get into a car, you probably ought to think for a moment, ‘what the hell am I doing!?’.
What I’m trying to say is, you’re a douchebag too. We’re pretty much all douchebags, in fact, because this is London, and it’s too packed for any of us to get done what we need to get done without massively pissing other people off all the time. Nobody wants to go slow. Everybody wants to win. Every day is an angry race towards some kind of illusory finish line.
Which is why I’m sorry. Because my club of lycra-clad, speed demon men – pushy as we need to be – now exists to the exclusion of exactly the kind of people I'd love to be able to say, 'hey, get on your bike, cycling's a barrel of laughs' to. In fact, this is my Ronnie Pickering moment. I’m foregoing my anonymity and saying: for Pete’s sake can we all just calm down a bit? And if you see me cruising haplessly through a red light, with a punchable smirk of indifference plastered across my windswept face, know my name and curse it. Jonny Ensall. Who? Jonny Ensall! Who’s that? JONNY FUCKING ENSALL!
It’s the least I deserve.
Want more ranting and raving? Read Alice White's column on the benefits of spending all your money on cocktails.
Illustration: Nate Kitch.