Thursday, 3 May 2012
Finnegan, Begin Again.
My cyclist barely touched a bike in 10 years. For 7 of those years he was with me. And as time progressed the realisation dawned that I would one day have to share him with the bike. I watched it happen, saw the seed planted and the desire grow. It began to cast a foreshadow, so much so that there was almost a sense of relief when the day finally came and the bike came out of the loft.
I have no-one but myself to blame. You see, I think it was our honeymoon that was the event horizon, and I had booked it. Our son was 2 when we got around to getting married. For our honeymoon we had a few days in the south of France, just the two of us with Oscar packed off to his grandparents, then when we got back we trotted off en famille to Center Parcs for a weeks 'Familymoon'. I had never experienced the joy of a week at Center Parcs before, and full of good intentions had booked us some extortionately priced family based activities. The most memorable of these was 'Toddler Dance' - a mini disco for the under 4's. Oscar refused point blank to have any involvement in this whatsoever; he stood at my side glowering as only a 2 year old can. Eventually, he selected the sturdiest looking child in the room, marched up to him, and in front of an array of assembled parents bit him square on the arm. It was that kind of family break. And in the best traditions it pissed down. God, it pissed down.
To add to the fun we had also booked bike hire, bikes being the official mode of transport at Center Parcs. Bike hire was an eye-opener, for both of us and for different reasons. Sensible, sporty, outdoorsy types will take their own bikes with them on a jaunt of this type. I am none of those things - added to which I didn't then and I don't now own a bike. The cyclist's bikes were at this point in the loft, out of sight and out of mind. So we had a couple of nasty hire jobs thrust at us, with a toddler trailer fixed to the cyclist's for the little emporer to be wheeled about in.
But it was this crappy hire bike that was the first link in the chain of events that led the then ex-cyclist to becoming a cyclist once more. This hire bike that reminded him just how much he had loved being a cyclist, and planted the seed that led us to where we are now.
It took the cyclist about 30 seconds to rediscover the joy of being on a bike. Approximately the same amount of time it took me to be reduced to tears by the experience. My thighs burned, my lungs burned, my bum burned. None of this was in a 'good burn' way, or fun, or liberating, I was just miserable. I spent about 2 days wrapping various items of increasingly bulky clothing around the saddle and myself and whining, moaning and generally being a little bitch about the whole thing, before giving up entirely and walking everywhere - often leaving 20mins or so before the cyclist so as to arrive at the same time.
It took another 2 years for the inertia to be fully overcome and the return to really take hold. For the bike and the kit to come out of the loft and the situation to snowball wildly thanks to bike magazines and bike shops and bike websites and bike shows and bike catalogues.
The return to the bike seems to be a recurring theme. Ex-cyclists don't stay ex-cyclists forever. They dismount, retire, give up, turn their backs. But whatever their reasons for walking away, be it the politics, the preparation, the pressure - it's not the bike. Never the bike. And it's the bike which lures them back, sooner or later.
So now the cyclist has returned to his first and, saving that which he has for our children, perhaps his truest love. And this time it's on his terms. Once a cyclist, always a cyclist.