Stop it! It’s a bicycle of course but after a nine month layoff it did feel a bit strange to be astride my two wheeled friend once more. After spending yesterday afternoon wallowing in self-pity while Gill was out at work and failing miserably to do anything useful with my day I gave myself a really good talking to when I woke up this morning. There was no doubt about it, it was time to get on my arse and go for a bike ride. I must have been really stern with myself because after spending an age locating various bits of cycling paraphernalia and topping up the pressure in the tyres I was out on the road before it was fully light.
I half expected to have to learn to ride again but as in the old adage ‘an elephant never forgets’, it was like falling off a bicycle …….. no hang on I think I might be getting mixed up there. Anyway steering around corners, balancing on two wheels and alternate pedal revolutions all proved to be firmly wired into my brain still but I confess I had forgotten what a miniscule amount of headwind it takes to sap your energy. I was a bit nervous if I’m honest; not of the road or the traffic, indeed there wasn’t any traffic at such an early hour on a Sunday morning, but of my body and its ability or inability to propel me further than the end of the drive. I saw this first ride as a kind of tentative prodding of muscles to see what state they were in. It reminded me of selecting an avocado in the supermarket, you know when you press your finger into it to see if it’s ripe and then having found that it is you look around furtively and then change it for another one because you’ve just bruised the first one? I pushed a bit harder on the pedals to maintain speed on a very gentle rise and, like most of the avocados you pick up I found that this one wasn’t really ready yet.
Fair enough really, what did I expect after such a long break. It’s a credit to the efficiency of the machine (the bike, not my body) that I was able to ride fifteen miles at a modest pace and only be a little bit knackered at the end of it. It isn’t a great distance I know, and I didn’t overtake any other cyclists but it’s a start and as soon as I can sit on a saddle again without crying I intend to repeat the operation.
I have to say it was lovely to be back cycling again and remembering why I love it. I was reminded at intervals of how much more you see and hear from the saddle of a bike as opposed to the inside of a car. For example, I love the sight of geese flying in formation so when I heard their plaintive honking overhead I looked skywards hoping to see a spectacular and classic V like the avian equivalent of the Red Arrows. I was so disappointed. There must have been about fifty of them but they looked for all the world like they were on their way home from a very drunken party. Never have I seen such a shockingly bad flying pattern or such ill-disciplined behaviour. They weren’t alone either. The young man walking slightly unsteadily between Lytham and Freckleton and looking as if he really hadn’t planned to spend the night away from home left me speculating on what he might have been doing in the previous eight hours. I found myself reminiscing about the good old days. The days when I could manage an all-night party and then walk home through the dawn in my trendy short sleeved shirt; looking cool but without feeling the cold. And the days when I could get back on a bike after nine months of not cycling and ride fifteen miles and still be able to move my legs when I got home. I wish we had a bath in our new home.