Monday, January 24, 2005

Leader of the pack

I was cleaning out the car at the back of the house on Saturday morning when I noticed young neighbour opposite wheeling his little bike around the corner. When I say little I mean sort of minute. It was tiny. He was almost bent double pushing it. I had to stop myself from laughing when I imagined his knees must be over his head when he rode it.

I was pleased though because it meant that I could use one of the 2 questions I ask bikers when forced against my will into conversation with them.

"How fast have you been on that?"

"Oh about 45 miles an hour"
he replied

He was obviously lying. The bike was tiny - almost a joke bike. I did think it was remote control for a minute. It can't go that fast surely.

"Really? Whereabouts do you go on it?"

That was it, I was done with my questions, I had no more - the conversation was destined to end soon. I really should use them more sparingly. I use these two questions because they are something that people know a little about - speed and places, anything else involving bikes and I'm lost. You could spray paint what I know about motorbikes on the inside of a crash helmet - these questions are my comfort blanket.

"Over there on the farmers fields"

This fitted in with the buzzing noise I had heard throughout the morning. Maybe he was telling the truth.

I then realised I had an opportune moment to re-introduce the only other question I know. The long banned 3rd one.

"Have you ever fallen off it?"

It was a question I asked before until the time that I got into a conversation I couldn't get out of with a biker who talked non-stop for 30 minutes about amputation, bolts, loss of life and various other nasty things before ending up crying into his beer. You just can't get out of a conversation like that easily.

Surely I was in safe territory to re-introduce this question though - he was only about 13, how emotional could he get? He hasn't lived enough to have scars - he's probably never even heard of The Smiths. He seemed to have all his limbs - and if by some fluke he did have sad and nasty stories I could just push him over and run away. It was a perfect opportunity.

"Oh yeah, loads of times" he said,

I was impressed, he didn't look upset about falling from bikes either so I threw caution to the wind.

"Have you? Does it hurt?"

"Nah" he said, then proceeded to give me a lesson on the fact that because the bike is so small and low that there is no impact when you fall because you just roll. It was sometimes more fun than riding it.

"Cool" I said.

And I was. I was down with the biking kids.