INDEX 2

WRITTEN IN THE STARS
My predictions last year were almost embarrassingly accurate when allowances are made for the fact that your individual star charts weren't available to help me fine-tune. A touch of solar flare activity in the spring may have given my crystal ball a slight wobble, but that's just the sort of fun cosmic event which keeps life interesting. Also keep in mind that the Astrologer's Union insists on a certain percentage of dud forecasts to avoid lawsuits.

Capricorn
This will be a tricky year for relationships, with serial monogamy the best anyone can hope for. Nevertheless you'll tempt fate with a new Airnimal, purchased 'just for travelling'. This sits uneasily with your harem: road, mountain, cross, track and city bikes already vie for attention, and the concept of "travel" proves rather elastic. Although you don't actually have conversations with your bicycles (at any rate they don't talk back), you sense a profound disquiet the first time you favour the newcomer with a quick ride up the road to collect the Sunday papers because 'she doesn't get out much'. On your return the city bike mysteriously develops two flat tyres. Other incidents follow, some quite ugly. To preserve the peace a reluctant ad is placed in the C+ lonely hearts section, eventually disrupting another household. Not your problem.

Aquarius
You'll embark on a "peace ride" around the United Kingdom in a noble attempt to stamp out religious intolerance between helmet believers and nonbelievers, leading to an historic cease-fire and cautiously optimistic talks. The Nobel slips from your grasp, however, when the unhelmetted negotiator makes what he considers to be a humorous remark about his counterpart looking like a Martian, which he later insists has been taken totally out of context and which view in any case has government backing. The ensuing violence pretty much proves that wearing a helmet can be useful in close-quarter hand-to-hand combat.

Pisces
Your new submarine cycle, the prototype of which has been languishing largely unsubmerged in your daughter's wading pool in the back garden while you've been advertising for a suitably visionary and flush backer, will be snapped up by Ike Burrows, Mike's lesser-known brother, who happens to specialise in carbon-fibre monocoque underwater tricycles. He'll sell it to a giant bicycle manufacturing concern which brings it to market in a lamentably bastardised form (including making it water resistant instead of waterproof, 'which would be economically unfeasible'), destroying your dream as surely as if it had been crushed under the pressure of 500 fathoms of ocean blue.

Aries
Welcome to the Year of the Ram, when your frankly obsessive search for ever more efficient pedalling technique culminates in the ultimate clip-in system when you find a doctor willing to alter the bones in your feet to accept quick-release like some Flann O'Brien character. An enlightened NHS even covers the operation, resulting in negative press coverage and providing further anti-cyclist fodder for the tabloids. But it soon becomes the norm.

Taurus
You will enter what you think is the 24-hour Red Bull race but which is really just a bunch of people coincidentally riding around and around in the woods all night without a clue. Nevertheless you will find yourself, happily centered and self-actualized, doing exactly what you love: getting lost. Subsequently you'll all eschew all directional aids, compasses, maps, GPS devices and advice from locals, forever chasing that happy disconnected state of never knowing or caring where the hell you are. Despite this you'll maintain a fixed address in Hull.

Gemini
During a long and memorable tandem ride in the Cotswolds you'll stop by a pub as required by law. Afterwards you'll accidentally ride off without your partner. She'll be forced to hitchhike home on another passing tandem where the stoker has conveniently forgotten the captain. It'll be the first time she's taken charge; the experience will prove very liberating indeed. When she returns home there will be many changes, starting with the default human interface for the TV clicker.

Cancer
House prices, not satisfied with mere double-digit inflation, begin to grow exponentially. As you haven't yet made the Olympian leap onto the bottom rung of the ladder, you'll be forced to consider living in a Burley trailer - an idea championed by estate agents solicitous of your desire to begin the long climb upwards in that universal dream to have a place to call your bank's. Towards the end of the year the "Burley Bubble" will pop, but you'll have the warm satisfaction of having jumped into the market in time and no longer wasting money on rent.

Leo
After Phil Ligget appears to you in a dream, promising 'If you build it they will come', you start construction on a velodrome exclusively for the use of naked unicycle racing. In subsequent nocturnal transmissions he offers helpful advice, such as 'have concessions for seniors', 'special days for short people on extra tall unicycles', and 'make sure it meets fire safety standards, you moron'. On opening day 50,000 avid fans will show up but have to be turned away due to fire safety standards.

Virgo
Due to a not particularly rare misalignment of Mercury with Neptune you are likely to videotape many programs but never get around to watching them. In a related development a crucial stage of the Tour de France will be taped over by an episode of Neighhours even though nobody in the house owns up to watching it on a regular basis. That's really about it for the year, except for an ebola scare fortunately contained in your lean-to conservatory.

Libra
That pesky court case - remember? when you collected the Ridgeback Genesis 'for a friend' but forgot to pay for it? - comes to trial, and the odds are stacked against you due to the inconvenient fact that you're nominally guilty. Fortunately the Queen bails you out: 'One remembers the nimble handling and the regal Shimano 535 wheelset.' You swear that's the last time you'll put yourself through such an experience. Until Winona Ryder calls...

Scorpio
A Hollywood mogul gets in touch, eager to buy the film rights to your biography of Lance Armstrong "It's not about the French". 'It's very high concept: it'll be like Breaking Away, American Flyers, and PeeWee's Big Adventure all rolled into one,' he enthuses. 'We've even got Kevin Costner signed up.' You agree on the condition that Kevin Costner is ritually dismembered at the end of the movie, for real. 'No problem,' he says, and your people commence talking to his people.

Sagittarius
While cruising along one night you'll notice what you think is a shooting star but what turns out to be extra-terrestrials. They beam your bicycle up, leaving you fuming as you await your ride on their dazzling column of white light for an exchange of information and technology between two advanced races meeting for the first time in human history. Instead they'll fly off, leaving a neatly hand- or possibly tentacle-written note fluttering in their wake: 'Your companion seeks asylum and we are moved to give it. On our home planet our ultra bicycle-friendly government will give it the respect it deserves.' When you get home you'll be accused by your partner of saying anything to go shopping for another one.

Cycling Plus, January 2003