Cycling's just to die for
On Sunday morning, I woke up and decided to go for a bike ride.
But first I had to get ready.
I put on my little spandex leotard.
I attached my Fitbit to my waist.
I pulled on my fingerless neoprene riding gloves.
I adjusted my Casco Speed Time Trial Helmet on my head, with its aerodynamic comet-tail point, and admired myself in the mirror.
I went outside and looked at my Trek Domane 6.9 road bike. My heart fluttered. I placed a tender kiss on its carbon fibre body. I closed my eyes and shuddered as goosebumps spread across my flesh.
Then I walked inside, found my wife and shared with her a long embrace. I looked deep into her eyes.
There was a good chance that I would never see her again.
We said our goodbyes, and I wheeled off into the swirling maelstrom of Thailand's public road system. I would have much to contend with, I thought, as I swerved to avoid a stray dog, its skin half-consumed by mange. There were potholes, of course, and drunk drivers. There were corrupt policemen, and a citizenry that treated traffic signs and lights as nothing but a series of potentially helpful suggestions.
I sucked in a lungful of that sweet urban air. Ah, the delicious mixture of vehicular exhaust and garbage!
Yes, all was well. For I was a biker of two legs, and for what are two legs should they not be used to pedal Garmin Vector Powermeter pedals, which contain a data-collecting CPU and retail for upwards of 57,000 baht?
For what are hands if they are not gripped white-knuckled around Zipp Vukasprint V2 handlebars?
For what is a face, should a polluted, humid, stinking wind not be rushing over it?
For what, I ask you?
For naught, I thought, between squirts of sports drink from my Speedplay Nanogram Ultra water bottle.
Suddenly, a man on a motorcycle cut me off, and I did a neck-cracking front flip over the handlebars. Luckily, my spandex suit had padding in the buttocks, shielding my body from the brunt of what could have been grievous harm.
As I was climbing back onto my Crown Saddle-brand bicycle saddle, I was nearly dismembered by an enormous truck driven by a methamphetamine-maniac on the comedown. A bus bulging with Chinese tourists roared past. It was tailgated by an open-bed pickup truck loaded with 75 migrant workers.
A cigarette butt, its ember still glowing, flew into my eyes. Luckily, my Oakley Racing Jacket sunglasses protected them.
The message was increasingly clear: Thai roads are not meant for my kind. They are perilous, ill maintained and left largely unpatrolled by a police force unconcerned with the safety of pedal-powered road warriors like myself.
It was time to take action.
I went home, parked my bike, locked it with my Kryptonite Series 2 bike lock, sat down at my computer and wrote a sternly worded letter to the editor of my local newspaper.
"Thailand needs to reform its laws," I wrote. "The government should be creating bike lanes on every road in town. The police should be enforcing traffic laws. The roads are slavering beasts, ready to murder and maim. I am risking my life — and the well-being of my family — every day, as I mount up and ride out! I am all but asking to be killed! But that is my right, as a bike lover and as a man!"
I sent the letter off. At the very least, I was doing my part. If change needs to occur, after all, those who want to see that change must be its initiators.
But change takes time.
Until then, we cyclists must stick together. The roads might be a veritable deathtrap, but it is our nature to tempt those black-topped mistresses as salaciously as we might prospective lovers.
To risk our lives is part of the game — the adrenalin spike as we narrowly avoid the all-too-permanent clutches of the Grim Reaper, a high better than anything copped in some dingy back alley.
The stakes are high, it is true, and Death — oh, Death is a worthy foe. But to refuse to face him? To wait until something has been done to make Thailand's roads more bicycle-friendly before continuing to ride?
Ha! Of course we will not wait! What do you take us for? Fools? On the contrary! We are cyclists, and we will not bide our time, bicycle kick the empty air and twiddle our thumbs, perhaps seeking a more appropriate place to pursue our expensive hobby! We are not cowards, and we will not back down! If death is a consequence, so be it! Onwards into the muddy abyss! Leave my wife widowed; leave my children fatherless!
No, cyclists will not back down! We will ride — oh yes, we will ride. We will pedal against the obstacles that have been placed before us. Nothing can stop us! Nothing!
I can assure you that we are not easily swayed. We do not take detours.
Just how stupid do you think we are?
Adam Kohut is the sub-editor for Guru magazine.
Sub-editor for Guru magazine
Adam Kohut is the sub-editor for Guru magazine of the Bangkok Post.