Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The Balls of Your Feet

I'm a terror for the cycling, like Flann O'Brien's Third Policeman, though I have managed to keep my relationship with my bike a healthily platonic one. Since I fixed up my bike again (following the theft of the quick-release back wheel and saddle - yes, I know, it was my fault) the two of us have gone everywhere together, except Italy and Slovenia.

Paris is a good town for cycling in, despite the maddening traffic; the cycle lanes are generous enough and most journeys take fifteen minutes at most. What amazes me though is how few people in this city know how to cycle properly, or fix their bike for maximum comfort. Every day I whizz past people that labour forward on old granny bikes with the seat set at the lowest possible setting (do they know how sore that is on the thighs?) and use the back of their heels to pedal with. When I was a young lad, a road-safety poster from the Department of Transport that was ever-present in the classroom, instructed us to pedal with the 'balls of the feet'. Oh, how we laughed as ten-year-olds at that. But the advice stuck with us. And France is supposed to be the home of cycling. Well, it's little wonder that a Frenchman has not won the Tour de France in 22 years.