At Oxford, there was a guy known as Competitive Ted because he turned everything, no matter how simple or trivial, into a challenge. He wasn’t mean-spirited or petty as far as I know, but rather seemed to have an endless boyish desire to turn everything into a race.
I was cycling along today and there was an older guy slightly struggling up a mild incline, ahead of me and also on a Brompton. I saw the lights change and knew that I could just make them if I hurried a little. I also know that if you get stuck at those lights, they take about 2 minutes to change, which would have been a mild bore. The other guy was not going to make it, so I took off and made it over the lights.
About 500 yards and a few lanes and streets later, as I was bimbling along, I felt a cyclist coming up behind me, so moved over to let him pass. Lo and behold, there was the aging cyclist, shooting past, determined to prove that he was faster than me, while steadfastly ignoring me. He had lycra trousers and the full GoreTex gear (on a hot and sunny morning), and must have been sweating up a storm.
But why bother, eh? It’s not a race. But you get this sort of petty racing all the time in London when you’re cycling.
The spirit of Competitive Ted lives on.