As I pull out my lycra cycling bib and jersey, wedge myself into them secure in the knowledge that I look absolutely ridiculous, I convince myself that this is necessary equipment in order to complete a comfortable cycle. Comfortable, maybe I should use another word. Tolerable. I turn and look at my (let’s pretend and say voluptuous) arse. I grimace at the large padded area which makes said arse, look less voluptuous and more grotesque. I place my helmet on over my unbrushed hair, I don’t have to brush it when I know it’s going to be sweaty and disgusting under there in about 45 seconds. After making sure I have a spare tube, tyres are at the right pressure and have I’m hydration bottle filled I’m ready to go after a mere twenty five minutes.
I drag my bike from the house making sure to bash every door frame on the way out, I drag the chain against my leg and take a chuck out of my shin as I slide it out the hall door trying to avoid my car which is parked too close to the front of the house. I look like a fecking idiot. After I make it out the door I walk to the curb hoping none of the neighbours see me pretending to be a professional cyclist. I jump on, wobble a bit as I try and get my cleats into the pedals before I slow down enough to fall off, again looking like a fecking idiot. After I recover very quickly and scan the area for onlookers I start to cycle out of the estate where I automatically feel a whole lot more comfortable.
The weather is lovely, conditions are great and I’m flying along enjoying the feeling of the blood pumping through I’m veins and convinced I’m burning so many calories that it will be ok if I hit the chipper and the off licence later on because I have done really well and am so deserving of it. All is going well until a truck pulls past me at speed and nearly sucks me under its wheel. My heart beats faster, not in a good way, in a way that I actually think I might die. The chipper and the beer are a distant memory. A few miles down the road I start to recover and don’t look like I’m recovering from a hard night on the tiles and I start to relax again.
Then it starts to rain. I hate the rain. The rain turns a nice gentle cycle into an extreme sport. Not one shite seems to be given about me or my beloved bicycle. While I attempt to cycle straight through a junction, a car speeds up behind me, again to close, overtakes me only to turn left, without indicating might I add, nearly taking me out of it. As I slam on my breaks the light goes amber, I try to take my foot out of the cleat, with much terror it sticks, the bike slows, I miraculously get it out in time. The palpitations start again, I get myself under control, trying to look cool. I am aware that I don’t.
I come to a giant hill. I prepare. I am conscious now that as I cycle up the hill and the pedestrians are passing me out on the footpath that I actually hate cycling and don’t know why I do it. I hear some snide remark about how I should be “scarlet for meself”. If my face wasn’t burning from the pain it would be burning from embarrassment. I make slow progress up the hill and the joy hits as I speed down passing the pedestrians wishing I could give them the one finger salute, but I’m not great with racing handles and one hand, so I refrain. I’m knackered now so when I slow down I attempt to take a drink from my bottle. I concentrate so hard now I almost knock myself out. I have the bottle to my lips, one hand on the bar and feel a little wobbly. I finish and manage to place it back in the holder without veering out in front of traffic, SUCCESS, I almost scream.
I’m about twenty kilometres in now and am about to turn and head for home. I have the return journey to make. Traffic is busy and I am cycling along possibly the worst surface ever. I am trying to avoid pot holes and drains to beat the band. I really want the cycle to be over. I am cold and wet and drivers are ignoring my hand signals, driving too close to me and all I want to do is scream. I observe a car pull up on my left, the driver stops, smiles at me and signals to allow me to continue on. I have the right of way but the fact that she stops, sees me and acknowledges this, reassures me that I might just make it home alive. I cycle on. I pull into my estate. At this stage I couldn’t give a shite who sees me or what I look like. I pull my bike into the house making sure I bash the pedals off both the car that is too close to the house and the door frame. I pull my weary body up the stairs to get into a boiling shower which burns my now throbbing arse. As I step out I feel great. I realise I don’t hate cycling after all.