I heave a leg over just clearing the saddle with difficulty, made tougher when you’re trying unsuccessfully, despite the spandex, to hold your stomach in as well – just in case the neighbours are watching, and with a devil-may-care wobble or two, off I go on my Sunday exercise cycle.
There’s loads of guys my age and older who go further and faster than me and with a lot less effort than I seem to need. But I also know, that there’s many times more who can’t or won’t do what I do, or do it as well as me. I don’t know who they are, I can’t see them because they’re sitting at home aren’t they?
So, at 60 years of age, heart surgery last year and a niggling legacy or two as a result of that, the fact that I can muster up the motivation to do this at all is, I think, to my credit. Well that’s what I tell myself.
I always find the first couple of miles especially tough until my breathing becomes what I call - laboured but regular. Then I like to find a level where I can settle in to a brisk pedalling rhythm or cadence as it’s called. I imagine what I look like – I picture myself as a young athlete pedalling confidently and seemingly effortlessly along. In my mind’s eye, I’m always young looking when I do this, unlike looking in the mirror, and I really do feel fantastic.
I recommend however, you do this on roads that are fairly clear of other cyclists. The dream is easily shattered if a woman, let’s say of senior years, on a mountain bike with big chunky tyres, overtakes you as if you’re going backwards. Believe me, I’ve been caught a couple of times like that. If you glance around and see this about to happen to you, pull over safely, stop and pretend to take an incoming call on your mobile phone until she’s passed. On these occasions I find phoney easier to handle than humiliation. Don’t be proud. Feeling great is all you need. You don’t have to actually be great.
To complete my self-adoration, I’ve survived the day without death or serious injury interfering with the smug “pleased with myself” expression on my face. Much of this has to be due to the fact that I while out on my bike, I’m dressed like an unstable nuclear hazard or something equally scary, and other vehicles are not just seeing me but, I suspect, going out of their way to avoid me – for fear that their paint will start peeling or something if they come too close. I’m not just bright, I’m screaming for attention.
When I’m cycling in the dark and my clothing needs a bit of support to be noticed, I like my bike lights to “outlight” anything else that’s out there, or at least be the equal. Same reason, I want to be able to do it again next week.
Enjoy your bike, stay safe and be seen.
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