The working month of May began pleasantly. Ariane was feeling a little under the weather so specifically asked that we cycle slowly into work. I didn’t need asking twice. And so we set off at a leisurely pace along the forest trails. The sun was shining and the ground was drying out. The leaves and grass had that extra green appearance you get when the sun is shining after spring rain. You can almost sense nature saying “right, winter has finally buggered off and we are going on an all-out growing frenzy before it gets too hot.”
As we approached the half-way stage in front of the US Army barracks, we had to stop at a zebra crossing. We are used to cycling over it but a mini-bus blocked our way. This is unusual in Germany because drivers are trained to be very cautious around zebra crossings. Pedestrians know this too and I often see people striding onto the crossings without looking. The exact opposite to Paris really, where the pedestrian crossings seem to serve a purely decorative purpose for drivers.
I was in my “cycling-to-work” mode so I made a grumpy face at the driver of the mini bus. Actually I made a grumpy face at the side of the mini bus which nobody saw, but it made me feel a little better. On the other hand, when I am driving and have to wait because a cyclist is crossing, I do tend to think “it’s actually a pedestrian crossing so you shouldn’t be on it.” Anyway, the fact that this extremely minor inconvenience caused me to make a grumpy face is an indication of how disciplined road users usually are on zebra crossings in Germany. I may have laboured the point a little there. Sorry.
Once over the crossing, we pedalled off slowly again – now onto the downhill bit where Ariane likes to practice her Valentino Rossi cornering technique. No sooner had we set off than a proper cyclist on a racing bike wearing lycra tights passed us. Ariane’s slight ailment left immediately and she suddenly went into overdrive. I did my best to keep up. After a few meters we were both flat out and (especially due to our superior cornering technique) we slowly started to catch the guy. As we approached the “chicane” I saw the chap braking sensibly up ahead.It is a tarmac trail but there are stone chippings scattered around these bends so a little caution is not such a bad idea. But we had been overtaken by another cyclist, so obviously there was no time for caution and Ariane seemed to think she could get through without touching the brakes. I did my best to hang on.
Somehow we both made it through the curves and Ariane’s no-brakes-required technique had worked – now we almost had him. But just as we were about to catch our prey… he turned off and probably never knew that we had reeled him in. I didn’t know what to do so I gave my bell a little “ding” but I don’t think he heard. It’s all a bit pathetic really, but I enjoyed our ride in even if it didn’t turn out to be the gentle warm-up for the working day.