.madam raven

Greetings, ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to the bastion of elegant velocipedery that is CityCycling and, more specifically, this regular feature. Returning readers will be familiar with the principle of what we do here, however newcomers to this fine publication will obviously be in need of a proper introduction. Not supplying a proper introduction would be extremely rude and, as graduates of lessons to be found in our ancestral incarnation will know, I cannot abide rudeness.

You may refer to me as Madam Raven. My goal is to impart to you, the esteemed reader, as much of the benefit of my many years of experience as you require. The main points of information that you will need regarding my own proclivities, in order to save you from the more obvious questions, are those concerning my preferred riding environment, attitude to cycle paths, stance on helmet use and choice of groupset. The answers, in order, are: road; no thank you; it is entirely up to you and I would thank you to extend to me the same courtesy; and please, I am a lady of taste, Campagnolo, although I recently acquired a TT bike fitted with SRAM Rival that I have not thus far found displeasing. My preference for the Il Pompino extends to 70" as that is sufficiently large to provide satisfaction at speed without being overly onerous during more strenuous sections.

Past columns have covered topics as diverse as the French; why white van men drive white vans; the effect of female buttock size on the planet's angular momentum; Christmas presents for the cyclist who has everything; the maths homework of Mike from St Albans; the Sustrans entrance exam; Bike2Work schemes; malcontent dogs; the retarding effect of electromagnetic radiation pressure; and hats. The readers really are an inquiring bunch, with the sort of inquisitive, inquisitorial minds that would keep even Stephen Fry happy. I am so proud of you all.

The subject matter of future columns is entirely up to you. You ask the questions and I answer them. It is that sort of thing. Quite a simple process, and certainly not one over which to get overly exercised. The questions themselves, however, ah, dear reader, that is a different matter. We desire your very best. The most contentious conundrums, the most effervescent enquiries. Or, failing that, whatever has been nagging at you like the slow puncture caused by an undiscovered shard of glass that has worked its way through the tyre rubber and is protruding just far enough beyond the casing to tease a hole in the tube.

Over to you, ladies and gentlemen. Surprise us. Challenge us. Astonish us. I know you can do it. You are such an impressively cerebral bunch.

.madam raven .the end

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You can ask Madam Raven a question by dropping an email to raven@citycycling.co.uk and she is also now in the land of Tweets, check out @MdmRaven and ask her any cycling question you dare, like this...

How should I deal with other cyclists who barge past me at red lights to jump them?
Colin, Swindon

The question arises: do you need to "deal with" them at all? Is there physical contact involved? If so you could try a swift elbow in the kidneys accompanied by a polite and startled "I say, I'm terribly sorry, I seem to have struck you a very painful blow completely by accident as you were pushing past me there. Let's hope it doesn't happen again, what?" Or, indeed, claim that you thought the chap had invited you to play Commuter Cycling Rugby, which is, as all people of good breeding know, a version of the Eton Wall Game invented by Brompton riders. Negative response conditioning can be very effective.

If they are not actually touching you then I would suggest that there's no harm done, and, as they're out there jumping red lights, the vagaries of chance will catch up with them eventually. When it does you will be behind them offering marks out of ten for artistic interpretation.

"Gosh. That blood splatter on the background of the yellow Altura jacket is strangely reminiscent of Paul Sérusier's famous post-impressionistic work Le Talisman. Even so, I think I'll only give that eight point two out of ten because I'm not that keen on the work of Les Nabis, preferring the pointillist style of Signac."


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