If you think that a bunny hop is the kind of jump a rabbit does when it’s surprised, then you’re clearly a turkey or a squirrel. In the cycling world, a bunny hop is what you do when both wheels leave the ground to fly over an obstacle. A squirrel is a nervous rider, one who, when not in granny gear, shimmies (wobbles at speed), rides in dread of hitting a tombstone (an unnoticed rock) and making an endo (going over the handle bars) resulting in the inevitable faceplant. (No translation needed.)

From the Pier to Eternity an annual Coastal Currents Event
PICTURE: Dave Reading

Most of the above also applies to the turkey, the unskilled rider; for in the bike world there seems to be no word at all for the bike-less, clearly an unimaginable condition, unlike nudists who call everyone who wears clothes ‘textiles’ – naturally they prefer a more transparent vocabulary.

Squirrels and turkeys will probably be riding a beater or a fat-bike: a beater is a machine you can go to the pub on, or pop down the sea-front with – though beating here is probably more accurate a term especially for the return journey when the wind has unaccountably taken against you – while the fat-bike is big on options as it’s designed to suit most kinds of terrain and function.

How to avoid bonk and biff
Life at the top of the cycling world is a different matter entirely. Not for the cycling pro will there be anxieties about chafing or fabric bulge; no, they will be wearing jersey with anti-zipper ripple. This leaves them free to look for an opportunity for drafting (using another cyclist as a windbreak) and to be indignant about pack fodder (the riders who never take a turn out front). They will also be looking forward to their next scream (very fast ride), having mashed their pedals and hammered along in top gear, making sure they regularly
sip water from the water-cage and nibble gorp (nuts and raisins – banana, the rambler’s friend, is far too heavy) or the more enticingly termed musette (food packs handed to racers by their team). This will, they hope, prevent bonk, i.e. the exhaustion which might cause them to biff or eat-it (crash).

It’s not the journey but the ride that counts
Cycling clothes have reached an art form now, involving top level engineering and research into materials. You can buy special non-gender-specific tights with discreet and opportunely placed padding. Helmets can be folded up, some are even invisible and like the air bags in a car will inflate on impact. Long gone are the days when the pedals just turned the wheels and powered a flickering dynamo light; now you can attach a device to your pedals that will record your effort over time. You can re-live the entire ride with its thrilling free-wheeling moments and enjoy all over again chastising yourself for less than full achievement on the hills. ‘Ride’ is always used in this context instead of the more common ‘journey’ for obviously it’s not the destination that counts, the value lies in performance en route.

For the urban-slick cyclist there are further refinements. You’ll be dressed in jeans that repel mud and water and have reflective seams, a shirt made of coffee grounds that wicks away moisture, gloves with a signalling device on the backs –  why use your whole arm when you can just use a thumb and the side of a palm? You’ll charge your phone from your pedals, your lights from a USB, listen to music from your boom-bottle and have a camera to record the whole experience. On your handlebars will be a device which lets you know where traffic is and how fast it is approaching, and your sat nav will communicate ‘through a series of dots’ as one advert says obscurely. While your meta, meta computer (your brain) is processing all this, you will definitely need that helmet with 14 ventilators to keep a cool head.

From the Pier to Eternity an annual Coastal Currents Event
PICTURE: Ali Mooncie

Support your LBS or find a swan
Changing gear, we are fortunate in Hastings to have so many good bike shops, with staff whose expertise will guide you through the purchases in this most bespoke of bespoke activities.

Ebay and Gumtree now have a reputation for handling stolen bikes and there are offers of new bikes for less than £200 – really? When a bike has over 1000 components? So, it makes sense to support your LBS, local bike shop, and, if cash is low, start by refurbishing a donated bike at Bike Lab, (see page 21) or buy a second hand bike from High Tide Cycles, Hastings Cycles or Cycle Life, which can be customised over time. If you want a shiny new bike, you’ll find these at Handsome Bicycles, Bells Bicycles and The Source and it will have a guarantee and someone to explain how it all works.

Tim Godwin of Bike Lab has this advice for anyone buying a bike for a child: “The lighter a bike is, the easier it will be to handle and learn on. Quality brands to look for include Frog Bikes, Islabikes, Ridgeback and Pinnacle … they will hold their value more than cheaper bikes which depreciate by 80% once unwrapped. Before reaching for the stabiliser wheels, try removing the pedals and lowering the saddle … this will be a much better way of getting used to how the bike works than the dreaded training wheels, which just teach how to ride wrongly.”

I can’t let go the list of accessories without finally mentioning the lock which is solar powered and keyless and is accessed through your phone. Perfect until that one night when you lose your phone and it’s too dark to charge your lock.

Of course you can take a subversive stand with regard to the whole idea of accessories and just put a swan on the back.


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