10 Differences between Psychopaths and Cycle Paths
- In Scotland, there are far more psychopaths than cycle paths. This is particularly true in the major cities: Glasgow has virtually no cycle paths at all, whilst whereas Embra has numerous, it takes only one visit to the Gilded Balloon at Festival time to realise it also has more bulging-eyed lunatics per head of population than any other city in Europe.
- Cycle paths are far more dangerous than psychopaths. This didn't used to be the case, until the rise of the so-called "mountain bike" (where the word "mountain" is redefined as "a large, preferably flat network of forestry tracks with a handy car park for the GTi"). But now no sooner do you set off for a quiet afternoon's pedal to Loch Lomond or wherever than you're toppled into the verge by young lycra-clad males bedecked in garish helmets and wraparound shades, trying to imitate Arnie's motorbike scenes in the Terminator movies.
- This, though, is not to deny that public roads are the unchallenged domain of the psychopath - a fact patently obvious to anyone who has ever pushed a pedal in anger. Motorists cut across you, horn blaring when it's their fault, even wind down windows to shout "Ya big baldy specky bastard ye!" Well, they do to your editor at least.
- The most famous crossover between cotterless cranks and complete cranks came in the early seventeenth century, when Sir Walter Raleigh returned from the New World bearing a potato and a packet of Marlboro. His discovery of the latter was one of the most psychotic acts ever, condemning generation upon generation to an early death and smelly clothes. Raleigh did, however, invent the bicycle whilst visiting the Sheriff of Nottingham - only to later lose both the patent rights and his head following a plot hatched by two Irish pretenders, Lambert Sustrans and Kirkpatrick Macmillan.
- Truth be told, history is littered with psychopaths - Caligula, Vlad the Impaler, Lady Thatcher - who achieved fame and fortune by making life abjectly miserable for everyone bar themselves. Other heroes of the past often settled for mild eccentricity however. Take Hannibal for instance, whose attempt to drive a herd of elephants over the Alps was obviously psychotic. Interestingly, his feat is re-enacted each year when the Tour de France swarms over a succession of 3000m cols in one of the world's most striking examples of group psychosis. There can be no cogent reason why so many otherwise fit and healthy young men would choose to suppress their sex drive and induce sterility by the wanton squashing of testicles against sharp plastic saddles.
- Elsewhere in France the situation is little better. Quite apart from all farmers - many of whom also pedal onion-strewn bicycles - being clearly psychotic, numerous mountain trails nowadays carry signs proclaiming: "Velo tout terrain - Interdit!". Intended to dissuade the Muddy Foxers from making a grand mess of the Grandes Routes, these signs coincidentally make mention of the notorious fifteenth-century psychopath, Welotu Tehran. This seventh son of a Persian stoolmaker and a Polish washerwoman was burnt at the stake for dressing up as the Pope and wringing his sister's entire collection of chinchillas through his mother's mangle.
- There is a hillwalking connection, too. A little-known fact is that David Byrne, the singer out of Talking Heads, alludes to this very matter in his seminal song "Psycho Killer". On the official version, Byrne's stuttering lyric goes: "F-f-f-f-f-far better..." - whereas on an earlier, unreleased 12" bootleg, he can clearly be heard singing "F-f-f-f-f-Fafernie...", thus unexpectedly namechecking one of the eastern Highlands' least distinguished Munro Tops.
- Many psychopaths are schizophrenic. Many cyclists ride tandems. Need we say more?
- Okay, if you insist. The nickname for psychiatrists is "trick cyclists". QED now, surely?
- In a 1984 social work essay entitled "Clinical perspectives of mental disorder", Professor Derek Anton-Stephens opined: "Like the hippopotamus, a psychopath may be much easier to recognize than to describe". This is also true of the bicycle.
TAC 16 Index