Drunk and disorderly

I have just drunk a bottle of wine and several cocktails, and really shouldn’t be posting on my blog. And I definitely shouldn’t be cycling home from central London, which I just did.

(If you’re one of my parents you should probably stop reading now. Actually, it’s too late – you might as well carry on.)

I know, I know. You can spare me the lecture.

The curious – and comforting – thing is, I feel much safer cycling home drunk than I would walking, or taking the bus, or almost anything else. When I get on the bike I’m back in my element. After all, I spend so much time cycling, and so little time walking, that I’m more comfortable on two wheels than I am on two feet. I’m actually not all that good at walking, as a matter of fact. My feet and legs and hips are all out of alignment, and I have all sorts of aches and pains that mean I have to be very careful how I tread. If I put a foot down in the wrong way, I sometimes wobble, or stagger, or have a sharp stab of pain. Walking is something I have to concentrate on at the best of times, and when I’m drunk …well.

Imagine a fish out of water. Yes? Flailing and flapping and gasping and spluttering? Now drop it back into the fish tank. It’s suddenly a creature of grace and beauty again. And that’s what I’m like. As soon as I get on the bike I’m fine. I’m back in control.

This goes back to what I was saying about muscle memory and subconscious movement a few days ago. That assurance I’ve begun to feel when I stop thinking and let my body and the bike carry me through a difficult knot in the traffic – I feel the same thing when I swing my leg over the saddle and clip my feet into the pedals when I’m drunk. I don’t have to think any more. I know I’m safe. Even when I ride a bit more recklessly, and throw myself around the corners, my body seems to have developed enough innate balance to be able to swing me out of it, or just not to let me lose control in the first place.

I seem to be a better cyclist when I’m drunk. I tackle obstacles like traffic and narrow gateways and raised kerbs more adeptly. I even seem to get up hills more efficiently. And yes, I have asked myself whether this is really the case, or just the misperceptions of a drunken imagination. I think it’s true. You know how you’re much less likely to hurt yourself if you fall off drunk than if you fall off sober? This is because your body is more relaxed, less inhibited. It just goes with the flow. And I think it’s the same when I ride drunk. It’s taken a good few years, but I now know how the road works so well that this knowledge has sunk into my subconscious. My conscious mind doesn’t need to do anything any more. In fact, it’s better off just keeping out of it. It’s when I start to think and plan and worry that things go wrong.

(I wonder if I’ll agree with myself tomorrow morning.)


12 Responses to “Drunk and disorderly”

  1. Tedward Says:

    Messenger chick condones, nay advocates drunken cycling in inebriated outburst, Christ I hope the Daily Fail or Clarkson’s mob don’t get hold of this dynamite!

  2. zero Says:

    Ooh look: you plagiarised your(soon to be published)self!

  3. marchapple Says:

    Right, that’s it ….. you’re grounded !


  4. Emmy Says:

    Drunk cycling- The closest humanity will ever get to flying.

  5. David Says:

    > I even seem to get up hills more efficiently

    Alcohol, of course, is a very good source of energy.

    • Cudzoziemiec Says:

      Oddly, the “alcohol as fuel” theory was propounded at a recent meeting of cyclists in a pub – after which I managed to get all the way up a particular local hill for the first time in ages! I think, however, it’s not so much fuel as “effort deadening”. A psychological effect we cannot call Dutch courage, since it’s to do with hills, so maybe Flemish courage?

  6. rodders19 Says:

    Hi messenger chick,

    Just recently got into your blog, love you writing style. Anyway I’m a (trying to be) photographer and I’ve been wanting to do a project on London Couriers for a while. I did a bit of couriering for a few months when I first moved to London last year, but was warded off by rubbish pay, bad knees and the winter winds of November-ish. What I really want to do is a ‘day in the life of’ type thing, would you be interested/willing to let me follow you around for a day? You could use any/all of the images on your blog. Though you will have to wait a little as I will be using film and it will take time to process and scan. I’m working full time (not as a photographer) at the mo so it would have to be on my one week day off in a couple of weeks or something. Some examples of my stuff http://www.rodmdphotography.co.uk send me an email if you’re at all interested.


  7. My 10 favourite posts from 10 adventurous bloggers Says:

    […] Post title – Drunk and disorderly […]

  8. Susie Says:

    Hmmm… while I accept the point, I have anxieties about cycling drunk, in much the same way as I don’t drive when I have had ANY alcohol, these days.
    It may be a feature of advancing years (I really hope it’s not THAT bad, so soon), but I’m anxious about ‘in charge’ of any wheeled transport while drunk. The perception is that you feel a better cyclist, but it used to be the chant of the drunk driver ‘I drive better when I’ve had a couple’… I can’t believe it’s true. Most of the evidence base suggests reactions are slowed and muscle tone generally poorer.
    While I’m not suggesting you’ll kill innocents, the way drunk drivers do, but you might kill yourself.
    Go easy and take care.

  9. james Says:

    i’ve rode my bike wasted plenty of times and i came to realize that i concentrate on my balance and riding more than i do when sober to avoid eating shit. on top of that i don’t pay attention to how exhausted i am by the time i reach my destination.

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