It was the perfect day for a walk. The recent lovely weather tempted me out for a peaceful wander in the countryside.

And where would be more peaceful than along a canal tow path – you would think. But, actually, no. it’s more like being in the middle of a shooting range. You’re not a rambler; you’re a target. I’m sure of it.

Certainly, there were a few other walkers who would bob their head and wish you “good day” as they passed. But they were in the minority. The gentle amblers are lost among the throngs of cyclists who are trying to break the land speed record. Hundreds of them, at 20-second intervals in packs of three and four. A few even had dogs running alongside them!

Now, a canal tow path isn’t particularly wide. And when some halfwit cyclists dressed in Dayglo yellow with a daft “bunch of bananas” helmet perched on his head is bearing down on you at the speed of sound, there’s not a lot of room for manoeuvre… Even less if there’s a pack of them.

Now that I think about it, even just one racing cyclists with packed panniers on either side of his bike is wider than the path.

All of which leaves you with limited options. You can thump them with a heavy stick as they barge past, or you can jump out of the way. Just be aware that your landing place when you leap from a canal tow path is either a bramble-filled ditch, or the water. Which is why the heavy stick seems like a good option.

And of course, that’s only if you see them coming. However, at least half of them will be whizzing up behind you. What that means is that while you are eying the racing cyclists heading towards you, there is a faint “ting” of their bell (if they happen to have one) from behind you, and you have approximately one second before they enter the space you are presently blocking on their trajectory.

Fortunately, I have a plan to redress the balance. I’m thinking of getting a hulking great motorcycle and tearing along the tow path at 70mph. That way, when I spot the cycle-pack in the distance, I can switch off the engine and I’ll still be coasting about 50 when I blast through the middle of them from behind. I might even give them a blast of “Colonel Bogey” on the air horns when I’m about 10-feet behind them. See how they like it.

It would be rather like a monster game of 10-pin bowling. And getting a “strike” would be oh-so-satisfying.

Drew McAdam


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