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Sempre in Giro

A rider from another century: Mr Hoopdriver

Wheel of chnance

“A Bicycling Idyll”


It was at a charming little place between Esher and Cobham, where a
bridge crosses a stream, that Mr. Hoopdriver came across the other cyclist
in brown. It is well to notice the fact here, although the interview was
of the slightest, because it happened that subsequently Hoopdriver saw a
great deal more of this other man in brown. The other cyclist in brown
had a machine of dazzling newness, and a punctured pneumatic lay
across his knees. He was a man of thirty or more, with a whitish face, an
aquiline nose, a lank, flaxen moustache, and very fair hair, and he
scowled at the job before him. At the sight of him Mr. Hoopdriver pulled
himself together, and rode by with the air of one born to the wheel. “A
splendid morning,” said Mr. Hoopdriver, “and a fine surface.”
“The morning and you and the surface be everlastingly damned!” said
the other man in brown as Hoopdriver receded. Hoopdriver heard the
mumble and did not distinguish the words, and he felt a pleasing sense
of having duly asserted the wide sympathy that binds all cyclists together,
of having behaved himself as becomes one of the brotherhood of the
wheel. The other man in brown watched his receding aspect. “Greasy
proletarian,” said the other man in brown, feeling a prophetic dislike.
“Got a suit of brown, the very picture of this. One would think his sole
aim in life had been to caricature me. It’s Fortune’s way with me. Look at
his insteps on the treadles! Why does Heaven make such men?”
And having lit a cigarette, the other man in brown returned to the
business in hand.
Mr. Hoopdriver worked up the hill towards Cobham to a point that he
felt sure was out of sight of the other man in brown, and then he dismounted
and pushed his machine; until the proximity of the village and
a proper pride drove him into the saddle again.

source: H.G. Wells “The Wheel of Chance”. 1905


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