seeing double



a slick cycle whizzes by me
sharp blue frame
yellow handlebar tape
yellow pannier-bag carrier
its rider too in good shape
dressed perfectly for
his pursuit
no maillot jaune
he wears instead a replica
Tour de France vest
and yellow track gloves
they too look the best
zut alors
I recognise them
then
I recognise him
the boy on the bike –
who’s riding a tourer
which once was mine own –
is my younger cycling son
(my other –
the drummer one –
is only riding his cymbal)
and it’s my sleeping bag
bungeed above
my panniers
it’s my pump
my puncture repair kit
my spanners
stowed in those bags
I’ll be bound
it’s my old ‘B17’ leather saddle
set for his height
given half a chance
I swear he’d be wearing
my cycling shoes
my French ankle socks
in any case his feet
are strapped in
my French chrome-plated toe-clips
stamped ‘Christophe’
after a fabled champion*
comme si étrange
it’s as though
I’m looking at myself
but no
lo! it’s my son
his only new accessory
the chrome-plated retro front lamp
and such a perfect fit
I feel a pang of envy
oh if only
mum and dad could see
him so mounted
cyclists all their lives**
they’d be as amazed as me
as pleased as me
I would never have thought
that this could happen
to see my cycling self
reborn as my son
and
in another decade
my family
will have been cycling
for a century
oh who would
have thought

 

 

Jeff Cloves


Eugene Christophe (1885-1970) beloved French racing cyclist invented the cycling toe-clip in 1925 it is claimed an elegantly designed version with his name on itis still manufactured today. Christophe was also the first rider to wear the Yellow Jersey (Maillot Jaune) in Le Tour de France 1919

My mum and dad met in the Spartacus Cycling Club circa 1935
it was a division of The British Workers Sports Federation and mum was the only female member of her local (Walthamstow E17) section after they married they bought a tandem and my cycling life began in a sidecar attached to it.


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