Wednesday 25 April 2018

It takes balls

Having defied death cycling on Dublin's streets for more than a decade, Sophie White was surprised when she came under attack for her bike far closer to home

Sophie White

I've been a cyclist for more than 10 years in this city. This basically means that 'traffic' means nothing to me and I get an endorphins boost just commuting to work. So hate me. The other thing about being a cyclist is that I have been on the receiving end of low-level generalised hostility for years.

Cyclists are used to taking a few knocks. One time a passenger in a parked car opened the door and effectively clobbered me, an occurrence so common for cyclists that it's earned the slang term being 'doored'. I was sent flying over the car door and landed in a heap.

In any other scenario one could perhaps expect an apology for such an incident, but not when you're a cyclist. The polite thing to do would be to apologise for seriously injuring another human, yet cyclists, bizarrely, are often shouted at by drivers for getting hurt.

Now before the angry emails start flooding in from drivers, no doubt attempting to smoke, eat an ice cream and type their displeasure all while behind the wheel of a car, I will say this. I agree that we cyclists have become a bit cavalier ourselves. But can you blame us from acting out? We have been ostracised by mainstream society.

If people uttered the kind of ignorant generalisations about, say, gay people that they spew forth about cyclists, their friends would be appalled. Cyclists are the last minority that it is acceptable to be bigoted towards. In the face of so much hate is it any wonder that we've begun to hate back? I have let go of rising to aggression out on the streets. My current method of retaliation to being beeped at for doing something outrageous like calmly and safely changing lanes is to smile and wave and do the 'oh, I know you' face.

Recently my Zen-like approach was challenged. And a lot closer to home than usual. I live on a small lane and we all use on-street parking. This can lead to things being constantly a little bit tight and a little haphazard. Also if one new car joins the lane it can completely throw the equilibrium off. But we all accept this and do our best to co-exist in a civilised and neighbourly fashion.

Himself and I usually park our bikes against a pole at the top of the lane outside a shop. We were happily doing this until one day a note appeared glued to the baby seat of my bike. The note, from the shop's owner, threatened police intervention if I didn't remove the bike right away. At the time I was more pissed off about the sticky residue left by the note's glue than the actual threats.

I stormed into the shop and had a complete meltdown at the shop owner. Words like "unneighbourly" and "sticky residue" were hurled in rage. I went home and sank into a remorse spiral, Himself had to restrain me from bringing them a gift to make amends. Instead I just moved the bike as requested.

Now when parking my bike I am ultra-mindful of its position. I choose locations carefully, not wanting to enrage any other business owners or neighbours.

Some time later, when staying at a friend's house, I unwittingly attracted the ire of one of her neighbours. Cyclists: loathed wherever we go. I was unlocking my bike from a pole, juggling handbag, baby bag and toddler when a man rushed out of a nearby house and began to shout at me about my bike causing an obstruction; it wasn't. I did my smile and wave thing, though it is not nearly so effective at close range, and cycled off.

I returned to her house later that night and realised I had completely underestimated this one. A car owned by my new nemesis had been parked up against my pole. It was thrown fully up on the pavement in a demented kind of way, ironically causing a major obstruction and blocking me from parking my bike.

I realised I had met my match. Irrational people have nothing to lose. This is why they are so powerful. But petty people can derive great pleasure from minor victories. So I parked my bike elsewhere and then stayed to watch with satisfaction as the guards arrived to order the vehicle's removal. Cycling and petty grudges take balls and energy. These delicious truffles tick both boxes.

Peanut butter and date balls

Makes 10.

You will need:

160g (5½ oz) pitted dates

2 tablespoons coconut oil

2 tablespoons ground flax seeds

2 generous tablespoons peanut butter

50g (2oz) cacoa nibs

Place the dates, the coconut oil, the ground flax seeds and the peanut butter into a food processor. Blend into a soft paste that is well combined. Divide the mixture into 10 pieces and roll into rough balls. Coat with the cacoa nibs by pressing them firmly into the truffles. Store in the freezer.

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