Are you a man or a bicycle? I asked the face in the mirror this morning. Overnight a handlebar moustache had sprouted and the eyes were puffy. as ifthey‘d been pumped up. But the surest test. was the way I walked. prescribed by Mr Flann O‘Brien in his immortal work. The Third Policeman. People more than 50% bicycle always walk smartly and never sit down and will lean against walls with their elbows out and stay like that all night in the kitchen instead ofgoing to bed. If they walk too slowly or stop in the middle of the road they will fall down in a heap and have to be helped up and set on their way with a shove. [breathed a sigh ofrelief. I had managed to get to bed. I made a resolution to go easy on the bicycling for ifI went on like this I could end up like the postman who is 71% bike with no hope ofever seeing 50 again.

How had this state ofaffairs come about? Ultimately. one must blame Mr Rupert Murdoch. Ultimately. Mr Rupert Murdoch will get the blame for everything. When the day of reckoning comes he will have trouble pedalling through the eye of the needle.

It was a Sunday morning. bright and clear. Joggers were jogging. muggers mugging. and the grovellers were out picking piquant grovels. I had almost finished the Times (the Murdoch connection) and I still had two years to prepare for the Olympics. I was as fit as a Fiddler‘s barfly. Somehow I had found my way to the business pages and there I came across the piece that was to propel me into a new life-cycle. It told of a young man obviously 95% bicycle who had designed a machine which would take the pain out ofpedalling. He had not reinvented the wheel. for there were still two of them. but it looked space age and would go well with the leather jacket the brother had acquired for me in the Hole in the Wa‘.

Come Monday I was out early and in pursuit of the Strida. By late afternoon. I was speaking to the only man I know who dares to call himself an entrepreneur. His name is Marshall. James. We spoke about the weather. the political situation in Scotland and whether or not I golfed.

Two days later he was in town and he told me the story ofStrida‘s life. It was the idea of Mark Saunders. an inventive 29 year old. James Marshall spotted a prototype in an

exhibition at Imperial (‘ollege and decided its time had come. He raised the lolly to cover the development and tooling and now Strida‘s in production in Livingston.

It is not like other bikes. he said. For a start it has a rubber belt instead of a chain so your 501s stay oil-free. It opens and shuts and you can wheel it around like a kid's buggy which makes it ideal in traffic ghettos like Edinburgh where plays go on and on and on while you look for a parking meter. The Strida could change all that. Soon we may have to watch the whole play for this machine could get you there before the curtain-call. Would one want to see the whole play? I wondered.

It seemed too good to be true. Before you could say ‘ball-bearings‘ the entrepreneur whisked me down the stairs of the Doric and I was freewheeling down Market Street.

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To judge by the stares of passers-by I might have landed a airplane in Princes Street. Everywhere I went for the next few day. fruitcakcs were sure to follow. In the Pear Tree a chap. in urgent need ofa barber asked. if I‘d made the bike myself. He‘d obviously never seen me change a plug. ()thers asked. ‘What the (‘astlemaine XXXX is it'." or words to that effect. Last night a wag on Porty prom screamed. ‘Wow. what a vicious cycle.‘

I got on and off buses. visited bars and hiked up stairs Sherpa Tensing would‘ve baulked at. I‘ve been up and down the Mound. Down is better. The Strida has no gears but it takes inclines well and moves smoothly. except over cobbles which must (3(). THE SOONER THE BE'I'I‘ER. It sits quietly in cafes and doesn‘t need fed. cleaned or changed which makes it a lot easier to live with than the enfants terribles


who‘ve been threatened with (‘Ieveland (‘ounty (‘ouncil ifthey say ‘I want‘ again. We‘re getting used to one another. Strida and me. Friends are worried. As Mr ()‘Brien would say the atoms between me and it are interchanging. (iradually I am becoming more Strida and it is becoming more me. I‘m more concerned about it than me. But what will happen ill get a puncture? IIot air will be expelled and I will go flat. So what's new?

Th e Strida is made by Strida Limited ( North way I louse. North way.

( 'ireneester. (i loucestersh ire ( 1‘ L 7 2Q Y). It is currently available in the U. K. from I larrods. .V'ext Essentials, John Lewis, ()wen & ()wen, WH Smith '3 [)o It All and I I oase of Fraser. and in Scotland from Next (3 Frederick Street. Edinburgh 2) and

I I ouse o f Fraser (Glasgow), priced [189 (incl. VA T).

The List 24 July 6 August 39