While it may be true that we’re not a county of music lovers, there is one section of the community that certainly seems to be, if music is the right word. And it is this particular group that strikes fear into the heart of cyclist everywhere.
The only redeeming feature they exhibit is that they give you plenty of warning of their approach by shaking the earth with the regimented, monotonous boom-boom-boom of drum and bass.
This is of course the mating call of the wild boy racer – one of nature’s dumbest creatures.
My latest encounter occurred on the road between Shiptonthorpe and Middleton-on-the-Wolds several weeks ago. I’d scaled a steep hill in good time and was basking the glow of my athletic prowess when I heard the tiresome din from afar and prepared myself for the worst.
His Corsa screamed like a banshee as he approached me with startling promptitude, adding tormented wail above the dull thud of the bass, and typical of the behaviour of the subspecies he passed me at a terrific pace and within inches, despite the opposite side of the road being entirely devoid of traffic.
My bike wobbled beneath me and I fought to avoid a fall. After regaining my composure my first thought is unprintable – my mother reads this – but as he sped off into the distance, unaware of the near accident he had caused, another realisation gripped me.
It dawned on me in that moment that I was lucky to be alive. I don’t mean because our friend in the Corsa had nearly killed me – he hadn’t – or that the panoramic beauty of the wolds stretching out before me prompted divine inspiration, because it was a cold, murky day in February and I’d nearly been forced into a hedge bottom.
No, the thought dawned on me because there was a time, like many young men, when I wasn’t so different from him.
OK drum and bass wasn’t invented when I was his age (I don’t think so anyway) and I’ve never owned a baseball cap, but I have owned fast(ish) cars and I have tear-arsed around the Yorkshire countryside at three-figure speeds terrorising road users in all forms and cursing those foolish enough to slow me down.
I would be lying too if I said I had never got behind the wheel having had one too many, although I hasten to add, not for a very long time.
And it was this that prompted my third thought, which was the most frightening of all. Looking back, I’m lucky I’ve never killed anyone and I guess some of my friends are too. To die means nothing to you – it only hurts those who love you. To live in the knowledge that your reckless stupidity killed someone else is the cruellest kind of injustice, both for the relatives of the victim and the perpetrator of the crime, and surely must be unbearable for any feeling person. I don’t think I could live with it.
But it is luck, not good management, which means at the moment at least I don’t have to.
So I resolved not to be too harsh on our speedy young friend. He is naïve and stupid but no different from a million young men out there, most of whom will grow out of it having done no more damage than denting the odd bumper or two.
And despite nearly depositing me in a hedge bottom on a gloomy day in February, I sincerely hope he is one of them and lives to one day reflect on how stupid his younger self was without the burden of anyone’s death on his conscience.