Friday, 25 April 2014

V is for Vélos

Ah the bicyclette! Yet another symbol of all that is French!

It's the middle of Spring, the Easter holidays are underway, and we are awash with lycra and hard hats.

You have to schedule at least an extra five minutes to get to the supermarket because you are bound to come up behind a padded botty raised above a razor sharp saddle, beetling its way up one of the steep hills round these parts.

Don't get me wrong. I like cycling. I bought a shiny new(ish) blue one only the other week and plan to ride it along the only flat bit of road we have round here.

Personally, I think the purpose of a bike is to take in the countryside at a leisurely pace. I cannot share the enthusiasm for masochistic peddling when all you can focus on is the tarmac beneath you.

But the French will take their vélos so damn seriously. Even in midweek you can come across coteries of middle aged gentlemen got up like Ninjas, riding three abreast. They take up so much room.

And you rarely see people riding bikes in normal clothes. If a cyclist is wearing jeans they are probably a tourist and German. The French believe you must look the part. Lycra tops, lycra tights, little socky shoe things, and helmets with ski slope profiles presumably for improved aerodynamics.Vive la Tour de France and vive the garb that goes with it.

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