Sharing the Road and Serendipity

Taking cycling selfies means sharing the road and working around the ebb and flow of fellow road users. It can be trying sometimes. You get the shot lined up perfectly; the curve in the road, the fall of the shadows. And after a few trial runs you’ve managed to get it all dialled in – you know just where you need to be on the road and in the frame, tinkered with the autofocus so you have those little red squares directly on you instead of the leaves over your shoulder, and you have the timing worked out to the second. The light is sweet, but changing swiftly. Time to move. It is then that the road, which has been so obligingly empty and quiet these past ten minutes suddenly comes alive with traffic – sometimes whole streams of cars. Other times it’ll be another cyclist who joins you in the frame, almost invariably clad head-to-toe in mismatched neon Lycra and a hi-vis vest. Or it’ll be a dog walker whose pooch will chose those crucial seconds while the camera is snapping those picturesque frames, to relieve himself in your carefully curated backdrop. I could go on. The list of things that come along to ruin a shot is endless. No point gnashing your teeth – although I often do – it’s their road too. Sharing the road is just part of the deal.

Sometimes though, grinning leering puckish Fate does you a good turn – probably accidentally – and you encounter traffic that is simply more picturesque than any image you might be planning with your bicycle. And so it was this morning on this bright sun-drenched lane near a little hamlet called Rickney.  I’d rather liked the curve of the road, the simple composition and summery colours and the pastoral sense of those white dots of sheep in the meadow. I dismounted, set up my tripod and made ready to take my first trial run through the frame – envisioning a sort of Fifties style image – when along came these riders taking their pack of hounds for a morning stroll, looking as quintessentially English (and Fifties) as it is possible to be. And there was me with my tripod and camera roadside. I snapped a few frames and exchanged pleasantries with the riders and they clopped past – the hounds, I might add, were impeccably behaved – and that was that. The road was mine once again. And I was in a far more sharing frame of mind. If only more traffic could be like that….