Death isn't an inherent risk for most vocations, or pastimes. As a cyclist, and a cycle courier it is part of the daily routine. Avoiding death, wherever it chooses to lurk. From ahead, from behind, from the side street and alleyway. There would appear to be a sentiment amongst cyclists that all car drivers are idiots, and don't consider cyclists. When a car backfires or does a wheelspin from behind me I flinch as much as the next person. Is this my ticket?
They aren't all bad. Just yesterday, I was coming back from my quick spurt up the mount and at the lights on my way home, the car alongsides passenger was sipping down a cold one, probably the driver too. I asked if he had one for me, and no sooner than the words had come out of my mouth, he was about to crack one open and hand it over. I thanked him, but declined as I still had a way to go. They asked where I'd been, how far it was, how long it took, how often I did it. They were astounded. The stereotype whatever it may be of (neon pink) lycra clad cyclists dispelled, at least for a day, to this particular vehicle. As we took off at the lights, and I was punching along on the flat, they cheered, willing me on, telling me how fast I was going. Could it be that not all 4 wheels are out to get me?
This goes out to Sebastian Lukomski - the first courier I ever befriended. Sebastian was 27, and would have been 33 this year, same as me, same as Christ himself. Too young at 27, or 33. Seb was killed by a HGV truck in London, February 2004. It turned, oblivious to the rider on it's left and crushed him in it's path. Maybe not even a bump for driver of the massive vehicle to notice he'd ended Seb's life on that very spot. This was a mere two months after I'd left London to come back home, and I got the message via the courier network. Seb was a larikin, larger than life, always upbeat. Seb was one of a growing number of polish couriers working in a foreign land and a foreign language. I always had twice as much respect for the Poles as understanding cockney over a cracking 2-way radio was hard enough for an english speaker. Seb had an air horn on his bike, and it was only weeks later that I got one myself and other cycle couriers started using them. Those horns were so loud they'd stop pedestrians in their tracks which became quite the 'sport' during work. Seb's bike, was a Kona MTB with Mavic Cross Max's. He'd ridden them so thoroughly that cracks were appearing around the nipple holes, and I remember telling him about them as he'd been oblivious to it - always too busy picking up and dropping jobs to notice. I often wonder why it was Seb that killed on the road and not me. Why when I broke my neck, and walked back to the road, to hospital, my spine was undamaged, and the guy before me that day will never walk again. They are heavy thoughts to carry around.
Here's some 'blues' to lift your spirits far beyond today and the weekend. I have a lot of photos of the people I've worked with on the road over the years, and it disappoints me to say Seb is not one of them because he was perhaps one of the more colourful.