For many of us, a hot summer day brings with it an urge to try things we would never normally do, and often don't fully understand - things like cycling to work, organising barbecues, or Cornwall. But for people who cycle to work all year round, or who live in Cornwall, the sudden arrival of fair-weather dabblers marks the beginning of a season of hot tempers, stunning idiocy and, occasionally, physical violence.
In all sorts of outdoor activities, from the humble commute to the most serious of sports, the first few days of sun spark an outbreak of fair-weather fury from the dedicated all-year-rounders. Or, as they prefer to be called, people who know what they're doing.
As people with no idea what we're doing, we should try to feel their pain. It's easy to see how being smugly undertaken by an amateur with his lycra on back to front could leave a bitter taste in the mouth of a seasoned cyclist. It's probably similar to the feeling you get when you lose at chess to someone whose main aim is to use the pawns to spell out their own initials. Fairweather hobbyists aren't just irritating though; on the cycle to work, or in any number of sports, their self-confident incompetence can lead to serious injuries for anyone unlucky enough to be anywhere near them. Admittedly it's less of a problem in chess.
I sought out experts from four fields who have either felt the rage or fallen victim to it and asked them to share their diverse and occasionally terrifying experiences. Hopefully their stories will help you either to avoid earning the ire of the all-weather enthusiasts, or to rein in your fury at the fair-weather amateurs.
Living as they do in constant fear that some idiotic motorist will nudge them into oblivion at every corner they come to, it's easy to understand why cyclists can be more than a little bit temperamental. Anyone who has ever had a cyclist crash into them while on foot will know that, even when they are entirely to blame, the cyclist's immediate response is more likely to be a furious rant than a polite apology.
The problem is that when you're riding a bicycle, crashing into anything is potentially lethal. Even a small bush or a damp cardboard box is likely to come out of a collision better off than the bike rider. But the dangers cyclists share also give them a common respect for one another, sort of like Vietnam veterans, only with more bikes and much less Vietnam.
The sense of community among regular cyclists makes it even more infuriating for them when someone who doesn't understand the dangers nearly gets them killed. It's not just that they were almost hit by a car, it's the fact that it was one of their own who was to blame. I go in search of a truly dedicated cyclist to explain.
"You come to love the days when it's windy or raining because everything's clear and you have space - it's calm and it's nice. As soon as the sun comes out you get people who can't ride bikes." He puts the same emphasis on "the sun" that commuters on delayed trains put on the phrase "the government". (Enthusiasts seem to blame the sun even more than the wayward cyclists themselves, as if it deliberately rose each morning for the sole purpose of persuading idiots to ride bicycles.)
The cyclist has been simmering with rage for so long that he has had time to sub-categorise the offenders. Broadly, he explains, they are either "stupid idiots with unrideable trendy bikes, completely self-centred and not looking where they're going", or the "arrogant 'Training for the triathlon' kind with absolutely zero awareness of anybody else, scattering pedestrians, cyclists and small animals left, right and centre."
"I've had several - not punchups, but arguments," he says in a tone that suggests he punched every single one of them, "with people who behave towards pedestrians in a way that, if they were car drivers doing the same thing to cyclists, would get them instantly hauled out of the car and lynched."
You might think this would be impossible to get wrong. Move your limbs as if you're running, only very slowly so that you might as well be walking. Congratulations, you're jogging. But apparently it's a lot more complicated, and getting it wrong makes dedicated joggers nothing short of furious. The jogger I spoke to argued that, in an ideal world, "You wouldn't let new joggers out in the summer months. You'd lock them up.
"When the sun shines they're suddenly all out there blocking the paths," he explains, and there's that same emphasis on "the sun" as if it were some sort of evil mastermind. "It's particularly bad on the towpaths because you're running along and you come to two very unfit joggers, no idea what they're doing, and you're virtually tipped into the canal trying to get round them." It's difficult to construct a mental image of a jogger who has no idea what they're doing. Perhaps if they were flapping their arms and hopping? But they're not, they're just moving slightly more slowly than the person behind them. The fair-weather fury of joggers, it seems, isn't really exasperation at idiocy at all. It's just an unwillingness to share.
In fact, there's an element of that selfish defensiveness about every fair-weather activity. Just as fans of obscure bands are devastated when they're discovered by the mainstream, people who are used to having their own little path or pastime to themselves are naturally annoyed when others show up. And just as those music fans blame it on the ignorance of the newcomers, complaining that "They just don't get the lyrics at all!", joggers will try to assert their superiority over intruders. "They're just flapping their arms and hopping," they moan, but regular joggers would be just as annoyed if the newcomers were much better than they are. Perhaps the real source of their anger is that the special place where they and a few select others jog looks a lot less special when it's being trampled by an army of strangers.
For eight months a year, surfing is the sole preserve of the enthusiasts. Unfortunately, when the hot weather hits, the other 90% of surfboard owners arrive. The ones who can barely lie down on the board without having to be resuscitated. And worse than that, non-surfers: kayakers, canoeists, swimmers and people who just want a day at the beach. Then, just as the sun planned all along, real surfing becomes almost impossible. At least this is the impression I got from the surfer I spoke to, a man who not only surfs all year round but works in a surf shop. At first he is stereotypically chilled out, but the story he tells makes it clear that surfers feel the rage as strongly as anyone.
"I was in Scarborough and there was this kayaker," he begins, and the word "kayaker" is drenched in derision because this kayaker had made the unforgivable mistake of trespassing on a surfer beach. Legally there's no such thing as a surfer beach, of course, but there is an unspoken apartheid between surfers and kayakers that the experts know to respect. And this kayaker had just broken that apartheid, and worse, come worryingly close to one of the other resident surfers.
"The surfer said to him, 'Look, can you take your kayak somewhere else? Because you've got a helmet on and you're in a boat but if you hit me round the head, well, I might die." Ignorant of the intricacies of surfer-kayaker diplomacy, however, this kayaker refused to move.
The surfer's response wasn't exactly a measured one. My source puts it bluntly. "The guy got off his surfboard and just whacked him." He adds a personal note of wisdom: "I mean there's no need for it, but I do understand it. I got hit by an 18st girl the other day." (He doesn't explain how he came to know the girl's exact weight.)
He is clearly keen to dispel the myth that surfers are, like, totally chillaxed to the max. "A lot of surfers have attitude," he insists, and then, half-confessing, half-boasting: "I've lost my temper before just at people not looking." Far from the stereotype then, it appears surfers combine the territorial angst of joggers with the constant safety worries of cyclists.
The swimmer I speak to is a dedicated, all-weather, five-trips-a-week enthusiast. With his all-year-round commitment he seems exactly the sort of person to feel the rage. He insists that he hasn't - but he has been on the receiving end of it.
In the summer months the once-empty lido fills up with screaming children and barely buoyant amateurs. Half the pool is cordoned off for the kids to try and drown each other in, while the other half becomes clogged with people who have booked their annual holidays and are now trying to remember how to swim. Tensions run high. Earlier this month, on one of the first few days of sunshine, the swimmer was trying to complete his daily lengths in the mayhem. He was about to fall victim to the fair-weather rage equivalent of what the American military describes as "friendly fire".
"I was just making my way across when I felt a hand on my foot. At first I thought it was just someone brushing past me but then I carried on and this hand kept grabbing my foot. So I stopped and this woman shouts, 'You cut me up! I come here all year round!'" Whoever was in the wrong, there's surely something to be said for the furious efficiency of someone who kicks off an argument by bellowing their own attendance record.
Even if her behaviour was rude and unnecessary, the grabber's outburst is strangely honest. It sums up the central concern behind all these incidents. It's not that the newcomer is necessarily incompetent, even if they often are. Personal safety doesn't have to be at stake, although it usually is. The one phrase that sums up all of these outbursts is familiar to every three-year-old who has ever been forced to share - "But I was here first!"
Prone to fair-weather rage? Let it all out at