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Thursday 20th March 2008

Days Without Alcohol - 81.

I had a very satisfying session at the gym, the release of endorphins making me feel very happy, despite the effort. Hopefully now the tour is more or less done with I can return to regular exercise. I think it is important not just to keep the weight down, but also for the feeling of satisfaction that it gives me.
I was slightly conscious that I should leave for Brighton early to beat the traffic so after a quick late lunch I cycled home. Towards the top of Hammersmith Grove, whilst riding very close to the parked vehicles, I was overtaken by a car that came so close that its wing mirror actually clipped my hand. I shouted in vain after the driver. It is very annoying when motorists don't give bicycles space, but never in all my cycling life has a car come that close. I was a little bit angry, but powerless to do anything.
Except that there were traffic lights about thirty metres up the road and they had just turned red. I cycled quickly to catch up my assailant, though the red mist had not descended so much that I was not going to be cautious. I decided to have a look at the driver first and determine whether he could take me in a fight (almost anyone) and only chastise him (or her) if he looked weak.
I was partially blinded by anger and when I pulled alongside the car I saw a bald head in the driving seat and thought it was an old man at the wheel. It was only after I had tapped on his passenger window that I realised in fact that the occupants were two young men. But it was too late to stop now.
"What do you think you're doing? You hit me back there," I complained. The driver said nothing, but pulled a sarcastic face. "You've got to give cyclists space."
"It wasn't his fault," said his companion, "You were wobbling all over the road."
"No I wasn't," I protested. I am not the fastest or most efficient cyclist and when you have to avoid obstacles and negotiate speed bumps and the possibility that an idiot might open his car door or hit you with a trolley you are forced to move around the road a bit. Aware of my limitations I was perhaps not as confident about my innocence as I might have been. "I'm a cyclist," the passenger told me aggressively, "and you have to cycle in a straight line. It's your own fault."
I was a bit flustered and cross and didn't want this to escalate any further (there were two of them and despite my initial assumption they were both much harder than me) and so I just said something like, "I wasn't, but that wouldn't make it right for you to drive into me anyway," and cycled off through the red light, probably going a bit red myself.
The incident stayed with me all day and I played it over in my head, annoyed that they had tried to turn their error on to me and thinking that all I really wanted was an apology. I realised that I should have said, "When did you notice me zig zagging all over the road? Because if I was doing that all the time I was riding as you seem to think then surely you would have spotted me in advance. I am a driver and if I see someone not in control of a bicycle I give them additional space. I don't drive in as close as I possibly can. Or is it that I was just wandering over the road after you'd hit me? Either way, it was bad driving!"
It's no good to come up with your answer twenty minutes later though. I kept an eye on my cycling for the rest of the journey home and I was as straight as a slightly plump and sluggish arrow. I also clearly recalled how close I was to the parked car and pissed off for hours that not only had I been hit, but then I had been blamed for the incident. At least I didn't get in a fight though.
Despite leaving at 3.45 and no doubt due to the bank holiday traffic, it took me four hours to get to Brighton. I was fractious again and still slightly smarting from the bike incident (though had been cheered when a fat man cycled past me as I was stuck in traffic, revealing a huge portion of his anal cleft. It is the small things in life that can cheer you up and it seemed apt that it was a cyclist that made me (now a driver) a little happier. Luckily after a slightly shaky start (that I think only I would have really noticed) the gig was lovely, with a lively and rather pissed bank holiday audience. The tour proper is now over. Illness aside it's been a breeze. And though I have put on a couple of pounds of weight, that is nothing compared to the half a stone a month I managed to accrue last year.
Thanks for coming along if you made it. It was certainly my most successful tour to date. If you missed it and don't live in the handful of towns that I still have to visit with it later, then you can buy the DVD that I am recording tomorrow! After I have recorded my now weekly podcast.
It is, as ever, all go.

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