IN THE STARS
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
Plus, January 2003