Rachael Sugden: The Outsider column
MY Sunday afternoon drive across the Chew Valley was marred by arrogant road users from both ends of the spectrum.
It was a glorious afternoon, when the predicted sleet and snow flurries failed to materialise. Instead, the sky was a beautiful azure blue.
We set off en route to a country pub, about an hour's drive from home, for a carvery lunch. And as it was such a sunny January day, the roads were busy. Walkers, horseriders, motorcyclists and cyclists were all taking advantage of the weather.
It was, by and large, a very nice drive. People were buoyed by the sunshine and there was plenty of pleasant hand-raised-in-thanks acknow- ledgments all round, from the horse riders we gave a slow, wide berth; to the cyclists who pulled in front of each other, two-by-two, to let us pass; to the motorcyclists we hugged the verge for, to let them whizz by.
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And then, there was the Audi driver who hugged my bumper so close on a 40mph stretch of road (and I was doing close to 40 as it was) that I couldn't read his licence plate. As I slowed for a 30mph limit into a village, he roared past, forcing me and an oncoming car to brake hard.
He clearly had no concept of a traditional Sunday drive, which to all intents and purposes means a slow mosey, taking in the scenery and feeling at one with everyone else.
He'd clearly also terrorised, at terminal velocity, a couple of horses on his way out of the village, too. Nice.
And then there were the "club" cyclists, keen two-wheelers wearing proper lycra and luminous bibs.
I appreciate plenty of drivers are arrogant to the extreme (a la the aforementioned Mr Audi), who do not give cyclists safe room when overtaking and assume they are kings of the road. But some cyclists do themselves no favours. This group were riding four abreast, chatting animatedly, on a section of road us motorists would easily have been able to overtake on had they simply been willing to share the carriageway. Instead they pedalled on, oblivious (or simply not bothered) at the simmering rage brewing in the lengthening line of traffic behind them.
The car immediately behind them finally made his move, spotting a stretch of road he thought he could negotiate with a sudden burst of speed. He didn't expect one of the cycling gang would decide to "overtake" too, meaning the group were now filling one-and-a-half lanes of the road. There was no signalling on the cyclist's part. I didn't even see him look over his shoulder as he pulled out, head down, to take the hill ahead at speed.
And he had the audacity to offer an angry gesture to the retreating rear-view mirror who had miraculously avoided him.
It took another half-mile for me to get past safely – and not one of them raised a hand in thanks for making me wait so long.
Cyclists and motorists are regularly at each other's throats. From my experience on Sunday, there are some who are as rude and dangerous as each other, whether on two wheels or four.