Monday, 30 July 2012
My completely mental Grandma once told me the story of the time my uncle came home from school one day in about 1973 and said, "Mum, you're such a blonde". Now, I realise everyone thinks their Grandma is a bit mental. Well, sunshine, my Grandma will see your Grandma and raise you a box of frogs. The cyclist is an extraordinary man, a bona-fide alpha male, and the only time I have ever seen him so scared that his face contorted with dread is when faced with my completely mental Grandma. And we've had the 'Darling, wonderful news! I'm pregnant!' conversation. More than once.
Anyways, as a kid my Grandma was always utterly fascinated by my blondness, as I am the product of strictly very dark-haired stock. And so it came about that I learned another definition of a blonde, albeit one I can't corroborate from any source. According to my Grandma, my schoolboy uncle had confided to her that a blonde, as well as being a dizzy sort of fair-haired chick, is also a woman of any hair colour whos bottom overhangs her saddle when she's riding a bike. And right now I'm pretty damn sure I could not be more blonde if I tried.
So bottom overhang to one side (as it were), how's the rest of me bearing up now I've been on my bike a few times?
Let's start with the legs. Have you seen 1987's Evil Dead II? Where Ash's hand is possessed by an evil spirit and he's forced to cut it off and replace it with a chainsaw? Well, not to be a drama queen or anything, but I think something not entirely dissimilar might be happening to my left leg. It has definitely developed a mind of it's own, and is certainly evil (I am terming the situation Malevolent Left Leg Syndrome, or MLLS, and am self-medicating with peanut m+m's), although I'm not sure what benefit a chainsaw replacement might be at this point, and am currently exploring other options. Seriously though, nothing, in the history of anything (and I am even including the first incarnation of Take That in the early 90's, before Gary Barlow was all suave and fit and that and he was an awkward 20-something songwriter looking distinctly embarrassed in a pair of red cycling shorts and a studded codpiece at the back on Top of the Pops who could not dance to save his chubbily self-conscious life) has ever been so off the beat as my left leg.
My right leg is fine. A touch heavier than I'd like, plenty of room for improvement etc, but capable of maintaing a rhythm. I am riding my bike and my right leg goes:
Which, as starting points go, is fine. Hell, eventually it might even manage a pull or two. But when you add my left leg into the equation the situation ends up:
And then I get in a mood. And it would appear that there are few things in life less effective than getting in a mood with your own left leg. It gives you a headache and makes you be mean to your husband.
I've been (pleasantly) surprised at how tough on the arms cycling can be. I've always had silly weak T-Rex arms and looked jealously at hot women with toned arms (but not jealously enough to do bicep curls or anything). The only issue as far as I can tell is the likelihood of developing vibration white-finger from all the wobbling and juddering I'm doing.
And, oh! my worst enemy, my mind. I need to find the off switch, I really do, or a mute button at the very least (seriously, if my real voice is even a fraction as harpyish and irritating as the one in my head then everyone I've ever spoken to deserves a medal for not slapping me). I'll be going fine, actually riding my actual bike with my MLLS derived lopsided rhythm and then the little voice will start, usually with a shrill what the hell are you doing woman or you're going too FAST (I'm really not!) or a super helpful oh my god we're going to DIE and the self-doubt kicks RIGHT in and the wobblies start. And once the wobblies have started I've found it's quite hard to get them to stop.
Having shared space with my mind for a good long time, I have come up with a few ways of tricking her - she's basically not very bright. She can be distracted by shiny things, muted with music and is quite slow on the uptake early in the morning. And so I have been going out on the bike at silly o'clock of a weekend morning, which is helpful on a number of levels because as well as my mind yawning and pottering about drinking tea and generally leaving me alone, it means a) the roads are very quiet, which is good for my nerves, b) the impact of me disappearing out on the bike is lessened on the family and it doesn't disrupt the day too much and, most importantly, c) No-one sees. No-one seeing is hugely important at this time, because I am hyper aware of the fact that I look completely and utterly ridiculous. Not, you understand, due to the bike, or the kit; but because I'm a grown woman riding a bike incredibly slowly and wonkily, who suddenly starts wobbling dangerously for no discernible reason and is muttering to herself.
So then. Possessed left leg, wobbling weak T-Rex arms and self-sabotaging psyche. Black and blue and blonde all over.