Thursday, 30 October 2014

The Day we met Jeff

Location: Watchet, Somerset, UK
The first time Sophie and I went on a cycle adventure was in 2013 and we cycled from our home in Sheffield down to Lynton in North Devon.  We had two hybrid Specalized bikes and we either stayed at friends and family or with WarmShowers hosts.  The trip was a complete success and we loved our little adventure, but this was the trip when we met Jeff.

It was the last day of our trip and we were heading from Bridgwater (where we went to SJS Cycles for the first time to talk about our future Thorn bike purchase) to our final destination of Lynton, where Sophie's family was having a rather big get together.  So after a good start to the morning we decided to get cash in the, now infamous in our minds, town of Watchet, Devon.  We pulled over on the side of the road just across from the cash machine. Sophie went to get cash, I tended the bikes.

I was standing about 5 feet behind a parked car.  The parked car's break lights flashed on, then the reversing light. I thought that this was a little strange because there was nothing in front of the car to try to manoeuvre around and put it down to them accidentally picking the wrong gear.  But then the car started its slow movement towards me.  Since I was holding two bikes with bags I didn't have any manoeuvring options so just waved and tried to make myself more visible (it was a bright sunny day and I was wearing a high vis and like I said I was holding two fairly large bikes).  But still the car kept coming, so I knocked on the rear window.  Still the car rolled impressively slowly towards me.  So I knocked harder and started yelling.  CRASH.  After more banging and yelling the reversing lights disappeared and the car lurched forward.

"Don't just drive away!" I yelled.

The brake lights appeared at the same time as a passer-by moved towards the driver's door.  I was relieved that other people were around and getting involved so I didn't have to face this driver alone.  But that's when he showed his face, the driver got impressively slowly out the car (speed was not his strong suit) and looked at the passerby then to me then back to the passerby. The driver was an elderly gentleman. The following is not verbatim but it's pretty close:

Driver: "I'm sorry I didn't see them.  I didn't see you"
Passerby 1: "What have you done now Jeff?! I bet you scared him out of his wits.  Are you OK? Are your bikes OK?"
Tom: "I think so, let me check"

The bikes were fine, the car was moving very, very slowly.

Driver (Jeff): "I am sorry I didn't see you"
Passerby 2: "I saw them from the top of the hill, Jeff, how could you not have seen them?"

I am still not entirely sure where this new person appeared from but now Jeff was getting assaulted on two fronts by two very irate women.  Forever rooting for the underdog, I was starting to feel sorry for Jeff.

Passerby 1: "That really is the last straw Jeff, you shouldn't be driving, they should take your license away"
Driver (Jeff): "I'm sorry I didn't see them.  I didn't see you"
Passerby 2: "I saw them from the top of the hill!"

Then the first lady said it, the words that I couldn't believe that I'd hear at about 11 in the morning in a small town.

Passerby 1: "For God's sake Jeff, that is the second cyclist today!"

Wow!!! How?! Really!!

The rest of the conversation carried on the same way for a wee while. Sophie returned with the cash and we headed up a hill towards the coast road out and away from Watchet. I was feeling conflicted about the whole situation.  Jeff had hit two cyclists in a morning but I was fine and I'm sure Jeff wouldn't be driving around if he'd done any damage to the first, but those women were fierce and didn't give Jeff an inch.  I really did (and do, if I'm honest) feel sorry for Jeff.  But as we were climbing the hill out we saw a cyclist was heading into Watchet loving the descent and with a massive smile on her face.  Later Sophie and I commented on the similar thought we had.

"Watch out for Jeff!"


  1. I love this story! Poor Jeff ;)

    1. Yeh it was a fairly unbelievable situation really and yes I really felt for Jeff at the end of it