My mother has given me a bike. It is both a curse and a blessing. Now I have no excuse but to get fit and healthy, save the environment along with the contents of my wallet and gain some damn sexy thighs of steel! Unfortunately however, this means I have to do actual exercise, which, after months of sitting in an office eating cookies inevitably equates to actual pain.
I have also bought a child bike seat so my daughter and I can go on bike adventures together. I had to shout and argue with the man in Halfords a lot to get it (dressed in full glittering Indian dress and feeling pretty hungry for Vat Savitri which produced some funny looks in Tottenham Hale retail park). The plan is to cycle my daughter to school and then myself to work four days a week (English weather depending).
All good so far? Well, throw in a flat tyre on the first morning into the equation and the fact that my daughter (who consequently makes the bike much, much heavier) found this hilarious while shouting “mama go faster! You’re a lazy mama!” it’s all making me doubt my sanity in forging this new cycling lifestyle.
Our morning route takes us up the towpath from our boat and along the canal along with a multitude of other cyclists. I asked several if they happened to have a pump I could borrow, with most zooming past pretending they couldn’t hear the crazed looking huffing puffing woman with the shrieking, giggling child. Eventually, a couple of kind people stopped but had the wrong pump attachments. I carried on pedalling away, my legs feeling like they were on fire. “Think of the thighs, just think of the thighs,” I repeated to myself like a mantra.
Finally a man stopped to help. He had an expensive looking bike and all the paraphernalia including the lycra, which looked like it might burst over his potbelly. I explained I was a bit of a cycling novice and hadn’t yet bought a pump. He said he was too! “But you have all the gear?” I said, trying my best to avert my eyes from the rogue bit of belly that had managed to escape its lycra prison. He went on to tell me about how he had taken up cycling (for similar reasons to me) after 20 years of not being on a bike and about his first ride which had proved to be even more disastrous to mine; “My mud guard fell off as did I, then my water bottle spilt all over my phone. I took a wrong turn and ended up in the middle of the woods in the dark completely lost, covered in mud with a flat tyre and no phone to gps my way out- total disaster!”
“You poor thing!” I sympathised, feeling somewhat that I was in a sitcom as I screwed the cap back on my tyre. “Well good luck – I admire your perseverance!” He wished me the same and off we pedalled up the towpath on our separate ways. I was left with a warm fuzzy feeling inside – I rather like this comradely between strangers bonding over how rubbish we are at riding our bikes. Inspired by his resolve and unselfconscious dedication to lycra I pedalled onwards, towards a thinner, fitter future!