CHRISTMAS OFFER Subscribe to Hampshire Life today CLICK HERE

Chris van Schaick on the cycling species

PUBLISHED: 15:30 24 June 2014

On a machine that’s halfway between Bradley Wiggins and Call The Midwife, Chris attempts to join the Meon Valley cycling set

In the local garage shop on the A32, I came across a bit of a hard core specimen. He was a chap in his 30s and I could tell from his footwear that he was taking it seriously – his cycling that is. He was wearing those shoes with studs in the bottom which clip straight into bike pedals - A ‘Serious Cyclist’

Living where I do, on a favoured cycle route, I get chance to study the various cycling species – I’ve almost become the David Attenborough of the two-wheeled wildlife. And I don’t just watch the species go past my house. I belong to one myself.

I’m at the bottom of the food chain – one of the blokes who goes out on a bike in jeans and a jumper at the weekend. With my mate Jeff, I do a decent 12-mile round trip on what’s called an intermediate bike - a machine that’s about halfway between Bradley Wiggins and Call The Midwife.

We are never spoken to by the next species up the pecking order – those who wear ‘Proper Cycling Gear’. Further up in the rankings are guys with the ‘proper gear’ – but with logos added – Peugeot, Rabobank, Movistar – or any other cycling sponsors du jour. At the very top sit the chaps with the fully logoed-up ‘proper gear’ but also wearing those shoes with studs that the hard core man had. You can hear them too because they bark “cyclist” at you as they over take.

As on the African savannah, the beasts gather at common watering holes. Caracoli in Alresford is one such place that you can guarantee to find a host of cyclists hovering over a slice of homemade flapjack.

The species share a common language too, or at least a method of speech. Its hallmark is the short burst of talking which is all that’s possible while gulping for air on the uphill incline. There’s no chance to develop your argument. Breath is at a premium, so you have to give your whole world view in a few short words.

Loitering at my front gate, I often hear these small bursts as the peloton flashes by. Snatches like: “You can get an app which alerts you when…” or “His total package when you take into account car and health insurance is…” or “I said, I’m not being funny but if you think I’m going to believe that…” Just the short bursts. So I never get to find out what happened.

I’m such an inexpert cyclist that of the two names on my bike – Velocity and Ridgeback, I couldn’t tell you which is the make and which is the model. What I do know is that I spent £150 on it the other day in a big overhaul. It may sound excessive but there’s a part of me that doesn’t really mind the spend. I can persuade myself, with a feeling of virtue that I’ve actually worn out several moving parts of the trusty machine on my adventures. Now that everything on the bike has had a re-vamp and the chain has been well-oiled, I am all set for high summer adventures and searches for the best Hampshire coffee shops along the route.

More from Out & About

Wed, 14:44

Savour spectacular views of the Needles and Alum Bay and discover history tales on this invigorating walk on the Isle of Wight

Read more
Mon, 12:35

With late-night shopping, fairs, Christmas markets and plenty of food and drink, we’ve rounded up some of the best festive offerings in Hampshire

Read more
Mon, 12:34

Havant a clue where to go or what to do? Here are some pointers to parks, paths and performances

Read more
Mon, 12:33

With its connections to Shakesepeare and royalty, the village of Titchfield is full of surprises

Read more
Tuesday, November 6, 2018

As the mellow fruitfulness of autumn takes hold across the New Forest, what could be better than spending a few days in and around Lyndhurst? We take a tour and come up with our top 8

Read more
Monday, November 5, 2018

Hampshire is full of autumnal scenes this month, so we asked the county’s photographers to share their secret spots for stunning vistas

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

We round up some of the best events and things to do across Hampshire this month

Read more
Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Remember, remember… Here’s a quick round up of some stunning displays across Hampshire this year

Read more
Monday, October 22, 2018

Is this the ultimate city break? Winchester has it all: from ancient history to space exploration, plus cafes, cocktails, culture and countryside… But with so much to do, choices are going to have to be made

Read more
Monday, October 22, 2018

Our guide to some of the best Halloween events on offer across Hampshire this October

Read more
Monday, October 15, 2018

The community shop is thriving. Why? And what makes the perfect village store? We went in search…

Read more
Monday, October 15, 2018

From Jane Austen to Karl Marx, our towns and villages have fascinating links to some of the biggest historical celebrities. Viv Micklefield follows in their footsteps with the help of a blue plaque or two

Read more
Tuesday, October 9, 2018

We round up 8 things you didn’t know about this little South Downs village

Read more
Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Enjoy some easy walking around the Lymington to Keyhaven Nature Reserve says Fiona Barltrop

Read more
A+ South & South West

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Sign up to receive our regular email newsletter

Our Privacy Policy

Latest Competitions & Offers

Topics of Interest

Food and Drink Directory

Subscribe or buy a mag today

subscription ad

Local Business Directory

Property Search