Will’s World: The one where the cyclist meets the hedgecutter

Out of my peripheral vision I saw the fluorescent Lycra-clad man come hurtling round the bend. My instincts told me there’d be trouble.

Powered by pedals and righteous indignation, he flew down the road towards me, slowed, crossed over, and stopped just a few metres in front of the tractor bonnet with a face like thunder, a bulldog chewing a wasp and a smacked arse combined.

See also: How to get the best from a McConnel hedgecutter

About the author

Will Evans
Farmers Weekly Opinion writer
Will Evans farms beef cattle and arable crops across 200ha near Wrexham in North Wales in partnership with his wife and parents.
Read more articles by Will Evans

There’s always an issue when I cut the roadside hedges on this particular block of land.

I dread doing it, mainly because I like the quiet life – and, frankly, if I really wanted to be shouted at, I could just start a Twitter account or apply for a job at Red Tractor.

The road is narrow and bendy, the pavements are narrower still, and there are always lots of speeding cars, dog walkers and pedestrians around.

Add to that heady mix a large Massey Ferguson, a hedgecutter and greasy autumn surfaces and you’ve got all the ingredients for a very bad day. 

Tyred and emotional

Anyway, back to the Mexican standoff I unexpectedly had on my hands.

It crossed my mind as I waited to see what he’d do next that it was a good job it wasn’t my old man on the tractor, as the bike – and possibly its rider too – would be flat by now.

The thought of this, and the absurd situation I now found myself in, made me begin to giggle.

This only seemed to anger him further, and he began furiously flinging his arms around, gesturing at the hedge, then pointing angrily at me and the road while unleashing a profanity-laced tirade.

I apologise to any cyclists who happen to be reading this (and I’ve been known to occasionally don the gear and head out for a few miles myself, by the way).

But how on earth is anyone supposed to keep a straight face when confronted with a profusely red-faced, slightly rotund middle-aged man, dressed from head to toe in figure-hugging fluorescent Lycra and a bike helmet, windmilling his arms and frothing at the mouth with rage while trying desperately not to topple over on a bike?

(Thank God that he didn’t, or I genuinely might have died laughing.)

I feel like dancing

At this point, faced with a variety of options for how I should react, I chose the only correct way for gentlemen to settle their differences – a dance-off.

I pointed extravagantly back at him and his bike, I waved theatrically towards the hedge, and then began in earnest.

I shook my shoulders, moved my hips in the seat, passed my hands back and forth across my face, and generally did a very passable impression of John Travolta in Pulp Fiction, while he watched with a growing sense of realisation that he’d messed with the wrong farmer.

That, or he thought I was completely insane. I don’t know, but either way, he eventually admitted defeat. With a final shake of his fist in my direction, he pedalled away a beaten man.

As Gen George S Patton once said: “Accept the challenges so that you can feel the exhilaration of victory.” And I did.

Perhaps he was just having a bad day. As my daughters seem to have an uncanny aptitude for finding multiple thorns with their bike tyres, I had some sympathy for the man.

But those roads and pavements would be even more unsafe if the hedges weren’t cut.

Who’d be a farmer, eh?