Another chance encounter and another innocent remark which might have caused a minor ‘incident’ so yet one more tale to add to my catalogue of true cycling stories…
I was riding my bike the other day on my daily fat burning exercise route while the sun was making a rare appearance and I was in the narrow country lanes behind where I live. My bike is fitted with a hand operated, old fashioned, car type, bulb squeeze, honking horn of the ‘Hoo-Hah’! variety. I use this device carefully, I don’t want to upset or frighten people who are enjoying the peace and quiet of the countryside. I’ll often sound a gentle Hoo-Haw from a distance making a sound not too dissimilar to an InterCity diesel train coming from far off. I like to give people time to get used to my approaches though I will admit I do give a properly strong squeeze on the rubber bulb and emit a loud warning and state my presence to oncoming, vehicular traffic especially, on blind bends. Thankfully these are relatively few and far between on this particular route so disruption and noise pollution can be kept to a minimum.
As I do this ride almost every day, and at least as often as I’m able to, I’m known to others who also use the lanes to walk dogs and exercise etc. However, on this particular morning as I came around a tight left hand bend and knowing there was a huge puddle ahead by the nearside hedgerow I knew I’d need to swing out wide to avoid wet legs and feet. As I skirted round the far right hand side of the puddle I was therefore placed on the wrong side of the road where, unfortunately, I also came into the full glare of the sun reflected off the still wet tarmac. Temporarily blinded I suddenly saw I was bearing down on a silhouetted female figure walking a dog. I instinctively knew that if I sounded my hooter I’d frighten the life out of her and that she might just jump into my path, I was also aware that I might perhaps also frighten her dog enough to get bitten in a defensive pre-emptive strike, so I decided to concentrate instead on not running her over.
It was a near thing; I passed so close to her I could have reached out and touched her. I knew the proximity of my bike and I had probably given her quite a shock so, as I sailed past I called out an apology, ‘Sorry,’ I said, ‘I didn’t want to startle you with my horn this morning!’
There! The words were out of my mouth and into the public domain, eternally irretrievable, just like that! She may not have recognised the potential double entendre – I don’t know, but when she replied sweetly, ‘That’s nice.’ I did have cause to wonder. I also fancied I recognised her voice as belonging to someone who lives quite close to me. Discretion, I felt, was required so I never looked back, I began to whistle a lively air quite loudly and sped off as fast as I could. The rest of the ride continued without further encounters or mishap.