Posted by Dai Jones on March 06, 2000
In Reply to: Re: On your bike posted by ESC on March 05, 2000
: : Could someone please tell me the origin of the British phrase "on your bike," meaning "get outta here"?
: I couldn't find the origin. But here's what it says in "British English A to Zed" by Norman W. Schur: "On your bike! Slang. Get lost. Short, according to Bernard Levin in 'The Times' (London), for 'It would be better for you if you get on your bike promptly and pedal fast.'" It sounds to me like a "catch phrase" from a television show.
It originated in Wales in the 19th century. You see in the Welsh valleys there was a tendency for young men to marry local girls. After several generations, in really small communities, everybody was closely related to everyone else. The advent of the bicycle was a godsend and many a you man was told to 'get on your bike' when be came calling on his 1st cousin once removed. So it was a quick pedal over the hills and far away to find a fresh wife.
This new approach, policed by the church, resulted in a welcome breath of fresh air, so to speak, blowing through the Welsh valleys. And a good thing it was too as there's many a morose maudlin Welshman who could rightly blame his state of mind on his too near relatives.
Lets hear it for the bicycle.