The Man with Rubber Pedals

November 19, 2009 at 18:18 | Posted in bicycles | Leave a comment
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I came across this fantastic poem recently, by ‘McG’. It was written over a hundred years ago, but is still so true! It reminds me of all the testosterone on display on Anzac Bridge in the evenings, as all the commuters work off their aggression and race each other up the hill.

Needless to say, I aspire to be ‘The Man with Rubber Pedals’…


It has all the latest fixings, barrel hubs and narrow tread,
It weighs under twenty pounds or less, is as rigid as the dead,
It’s the every newest pattern and the very latest grade,
And it cost you all the money in the last three months you made,
So you wheel it from the agent’s and your bosom swells with pride,
As you mount it by the kerbside and you start it’s maiden ride,
Past the trains, the cars, the traffic and everything you’ve sped,
Till you see a man with rubber pedals, plugging slowly on ahead.

He is forty years of age and of antiquated stock,
Sitting upright as a soldier and as bandy as a jock,
He is wobbly, he is shifty and his handlebars are wide,
From crank to crank his tread is eighteen inches and his frame,
Is a pattern that was popular when first the ‘safety’ came,
And as you gain upon him you are thinking ‘I must show,
How a good man, on a jigger that is up to date can go!’

So you fold your arms and pass him in an attitude of grace,
When a beautific smile across his open whiskered face
Makes your conscience somehow smite you as across his track you wizz,
Lest you show him perhaps too harshly what an utter mug he is,
And when you think that he is about 100 yards behind,
The man with rubber pedals goes completely from your mind,
Till a darkness at your elbow and a rattling in your ear,
Shows the man with rubber pedals is still battling in the rear,

Then you think with some resentment, ‘This is not as this should be,
This man with rubber pedals, taking all his pace from me’,
Such presumption is opposed to all the honours of the game,
And if I show him up, then he’s got himself to blame,
So you drop your arms and lightly touch the nickled head,
With an ankling calculated just to kill that fellow dead,
But after a mile or so, you are astound to feel,
That man with rubber pedals hanging calmly on your wheel,

So you argue out the question, and you’re bustled to confess,
That the man is up to scratch, with the fitness of the best,
Still, for such as him to push you is a thing you can’t allow,
He’s asked for pace, and Holy Moses, won’t he get it now?
You drop your head twelve inches, grip your handlebars tight and lift,
As you calves and biceps swell, by jingo, don’t you shift,
Then you reckon you’ve left him and it’s nearly time to slack,
When you hear the cussed rattle of his mudguards at your back,

He can hold his own at sprinting, that’s proved beyond a doubt,
So the only way to beat him is to simply wear him out,
You set a nice 240 beat and to yourself you hiss,
That man with rubber pedals can’t stand many miles of this!
As the townships travels past you and the milestones rise ahead,
Till your thighs are working stiffly and you’re feeling pretty dead,
Still you force your ped’ling even, and your handlebars you clinch,
But the man with rubber pedals hasn’t shifted, not an inch,

At last, in view of traffic and the fast approaching night,
You decide that it’s best to take the turning to the right,
And as you turn around he passes upright as the just,
With that beautific smile of his still glowing through the dust,
Be you cycling to Sans Souci, he’ll be there to do you bad,
He is on St Kilda Rd and every western camel pad,
Be you cycling in the country, be you cycling in the town,
That man with rubber pedals will be there to bring you down.


By McG, as recorded in ” The Old Bulletin Book of Verse ”
The best Verses from The Bulletin 1880 -1901

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