Regular blog readers will know that my latest offering, a free ebook called The Cycling Widow’s Survival Guide, is due out this Sunday (24th May).
I posted a Sneak Peek at the Revenge Toolkit in my last blog, and today I’m posting a second Sneak Peek – this time from the start of the book’s Agony Aunt column. Why not read it, along with the blurb below?
The CYCLING WIDOW’S SURVIVAL GUIDE
A free ‘lifeline’ ebook
If you’re a Cycling Widow, desperately wondering
How to survive living with an obsessive cyclist –
Fear not! Here are your answers!
From the author of Cycling Widows comes this equally-satirical Survival Guide, designed with both the new & seasoned Cycling Widow in mind. Incorporating a handy Revenge Toolkit and dedicated Agony Aunt column, it’s full of coping mechanisms and satisfying tactics to counteract the suffering unwittingly inflicted by a spouse with OCD (Obsessive Cycling Disorder).
~ SNEAK PEEK ~
The Cycling Widow’s AGONY AUNT Column
(Spurious) Readers Get Hard-Hitting Advice
For their Cycling-Related Problems
Every day, our poor postman has to drag a heavy mailbag up to my door stuffed full of letters from Cycling Widows and the like who pour their hearts out to me, looking desperately for answers to their problems. After all, unless you’re attending a cycling event or something, you’re unlikely to meet another Cycling Widow who you can share your troubles with and get advice from – someone who will understand what you really go through in your long-suffering role.
When I took a look at all these letters from so many needy souls, I knew I couldn’t let them down. It was time to don my Cycling Widow’s Agony Aunt cap! And below, I humbly attempt to address some of the common themes within these plight-filled sacks of correspondence. In amongst these letters, I hope that my Cycling Widow readers will see a reflection of themselves, and thus benefit from the advice.
(In case you’re feeling sorry for our postman, I did actually make all that up so I could make up a spoof Agony Aunt section – most of our mail these days consists of boring bills and pesky marketing bumpf for stairlifts, tartan slippers and other paraphernalia targeted at pensioners. Anyway, I digress…)
In any case, I admit up front that my advice may sometimes appear contradictory. One minute I’m all soft and caring, the next I’m delivering a hammer blow. Well, there’s a very good reason for this, dear Cycling Widow, and that’s because, on the one hand, I understand the Widow’s sad predicament, so I can’t help but sympathise when I hear a hard-luck story. However, on the other hand, I do think we have to be proactive and tough-minded if we are to remain by the side of our cyclomaniac of choice (even if he’s not actually by our side most of the time, because he’s off on his bike). So I can only apologise if my advice appears shell-shockingly truthful and a bit raw on occasion – but if this is what’s required, then know that’s what you’re going to get.
Each letter is typed out below, followed by my advice. Before this, you’ll find a list of problem titles so you can see the kinds of issues being dealt with…
Light (Kit) at the End of the Tunnel (cycling safety)
Cycling through the Boredom
Having a Gay old Time on the Bike?
Pavlov’s Bikes: Turning it On When he feels Turned Off!
Being Taken for a Ride?
“I’m a Cycling Widower – Get me Out of Here!”
Thirteen’s a Crowd
Calling All Females! Cycling’s Got Talent!
LIGHT (KIT) AT THE END OF THE TUNNEL
Dear Cycling Widow Agony Aunt
It’s many a time I wake up in the middle of the night in a sweat, having dreamt that my hubby has been flung off his bike into a lonely ditch on the side of the road by some crazy juggernaut driver.
Even though I accept the hard fact that my hubby is never going to give up this silly cycling lark, I somehow can’t come to terms with the fact that, however much I nag him, he won’t wear brightly-coloured reflective gear, which would make him more visible and less likely to get knocked off his bike.
My ultimate dream (apart from seeing him ditch cycling altogether) would be for him to get decked out in hi-viz clobber, and festoon himself with so many lights that he looks like a Christmas tree on wheels. That way, at least, if he ever did get knocked over, at least the driver wouldn’t stand a hope in hell’s chance of being convicted innocent in a court of law.
Unfortunately, I’m lucky if I can get my hubby to wear a reflective arm band over his dark club kit most of the time. “Spoils the look,” he tells me. As far as I’m concerned, if he were ever in an accident, a pair of crutches and a plaster cast would just as easily ‘spoil the look’, wouldn’t they? And he certainly wouldn’t be out riding for a while, either.
Thanks for any help you can give me.
The Cycling Widow’s Agony Aunt responds:
I can completely empathise. Unfortunately, at some level, our spouses see themselves as invincible cycling superheroes, so our appeals for them to be more safety-conscious are doomed to deflate as surely as a bike tyre in a thumb-tack factory.
After years of nagging my chap, Steve, to wear hi-viz tabards and the like, ‘we’ eventually bought him a hi-viz jacket. He still naturally gravitates towards his dark-coloured club kit – which, in my book, acts like a magnet for exhausted long-distance lorry drivers, especially on overcast days – but at least the new jacket gets more of an airing than his old hi-viz gear.
So, what was the magic formula for getting him to wear it? Well, surprising as it sounds, what we have to remember is that fanatical cyclists aren’t really that different from us. The first thing most riders will consider when going out is: does my kit look fashionable? Yes, I know that, to us Cycling Widows, bike clobber makes cyclists look like geeky plonkers no matter what they wear, but we’re talking relative terms here. And tabards aren’t exactly chic, are they? I mean, not only do they cover up a rider’s snazzier club kit, but decked out in a full costume of bright yellow just makes him feel like he’s on his way to a giant lemon convention.
The technique to employ in such hi-viz-resistant situations is to pretend to begrudgingly accompany your spouse to the bike shop. After he’s ogled the rows of shiny new bikes for a while, steer him to the hi-viz section. Once his mitts have pawed over a few of the more professional-looking, figure-hugging outfits, he’s bound to find something he likes. When he tries it on, shovel on the flattery. Paint him a mental picture of how sleek and fit he’ll look wearing the kit out on the bike (if he’s a bloater with a paunch who still needs a few years on the bike to trim him down, just hope your nose doesn’t grow too long). He’ll no doubt lap it all up and, should he end up buying something hi-viz, it’ll seem like his idea. Thus ends your constant sore throat from nagging – and the beginning of his safety on the juggernaut-filled roads and country lanes frequented by (allegedly) cantankerous 4×4 drivers.
You might be interested to know, Dana, that I’ll be talking more about cycle safety, including the hi-viz topic, in my book, Cycling Widows 2 (see the end of this book for more info). Suffice to say, don’t go hitching your wagon to hi-viz as the ultimate guarantee of your spouse’s safety out on the roads. In fact, when you start doing a bit of research, it’s amazing to discover just how many riders meet their demise when they’re not even on a bike. For instance, one guy died after being crushed by his garage door whilst preparing for a training ride. Another was stabbed to death with a screwdriver during practice at a velodrome (not even outdoor cycling there!) and another rider was hit by a car whilst pushing her bike across a pedestrian crossing. Go figure! I’m sure these deaths sound like they occurred to amateur cyclists, so it might come as a bit of a surprise to learn that these actually happened to professionals.
Now, coming back to the old hi-viz chestnut, would you be shocked to know that clothing colour isn’t even among the top contributing factors in fatal accidents between vehicles and bikes? Well, according to an online NHS news article in 2014, the main reason for fatalities is a ‘failure to look properly’ – and we’re talking figures over 30% here for both motorists and cyclists.
Still, when it comes down to it, I can’t help feeling that hi-viz does play its part. In any case, regardless of the statistics, we Cycling Widows find it rather a touchy topic. And, unfortunately, ardent cyclists have an in-built aversion (or is that ‘allergy’?) to wearing such bright colours. According to the chap who runs our local bike shop, black is the most popular colour used in cycle clothing (this was a few years ago now, but I don’t expect very much has changed there).
Don’t be surprised if your beloved zones out at your persistence to get him to tog up in the unbecoming fluoro shades of a council road-worker, or to make him look like a pedalling Blackpool lights display. For a cyclomaniac, this really is a step too far. However, if you want to give your other half the best chance at safety, you’ll have to persevere in getting him to take on at least some of your ‘hi-viz and lights’ message.
Know that resistance to your ‘stuck record’ pleas is just part of the Cycling Widow package, and that you’ll probably always have a fight on your hands, because your spouse will continue to be tempted to wear his dark club kit – no matter how nice his new, flattering hi-viz kit looks on him, no matter how much you tell him you’re worried, and no matter what scare tactics you employ.
The best thing you can do to help yourself in this hi-viz-resistant climate is to ensure your spouse’s insurance premiums are bang up-to-date and bumped up to the max. Then get yourself a decent hobby that will take your mind off his heart-stopping shenanigans. If you really want to cook things up in your household, I suggest something extreme like sky-diving that will turn the tables on your hubby and get him doing the worrying instead for a change.
Anyway, good luck, Dana! All things considered, I hope you are, by now, feeling a little less desperate.
Dear Agony Aunt
I know you normally deal with Cycling Widows like yourself, but I’m in rather a quandary, and I’m hoping you’ll be able to give some solid advice to an old cyclist, please.
When I was young, I was quite the time trialler, mopping up accolades for my efforts while the little woman at home looked after the kids, which she loved to do. But I’m now in my twilight years and enjoy the solitude of an hour or two out on the bike while the missus happily tends the roses.
Recently, my wife put a spanner in the works by buying a tandem for us to ride together – none of which was done with my say-so, I’ll have you know. Now, whenever I want to pop out for a ride to get a bit of space from the old girl, there she is instead, looking over my shoulder – quite literally!
Lately, I’ve noticed I’ve been going a bit deaf, and I’m sure it’s because she’s always on at me when we’re out on the tandem. Having a flamin’ backseat driver is bad enough when we’re in the car, but on a tandem? Well, it’s just intolerable!
Please, can you help me, little lady?
Sadsacksville Cycling Club
[END OF SNEAK PEAK]
Well, if you’d like to read the Agony Aunt’s reply to Ivor Bracket’s dilemma, why not tune in to the blog this Sunday (24th May) for the launch and find out where you can download a copy of The Cycling Widow’s Survival Guide?
Please feel free to pass on this blog link to anyone you know who’s living with a ‘cyclomaniac’ – they might just enjoy reading the book themselves.
COMING (VERY!) SOON…
…is an email newsletter sign-up facility on my website – when you subscribe, you’ll receive a free download as a thank you. FREEBIE MONDAY also kicked off earlier this week with a free read of chapter 1 from CYCLING WIDOWS (Lifting the Veil on Living with an Obsessive Cyclist). This will stay on the blog until next Monday, when it will be replaced by chapter 2 – so if you fancy checking it out, just click here to read it.
Remember to put the book launch date in your diary – Sunday 24th May. Or subscribe to/follow the blog so as not to miss out on the news.
Catch you soon!
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