Cycling for grown-ups
I became a grown-up by accident.
The years pass, people ask you stuff, and before you know it you have fully formed opinions on town planning and parking regulations.
I’ve also carelessly acquired a whole stack of responsibilities.
Some of the responsibilities I’m happy with, but I don’t really remember asking for them. I agree that a marriage and a couple of kids, for example, are probably for the best. Equally, a job that pays the bills each month is really starting to come in handy.
Some of the other things I wanted no part of, and don’t even fully understand — mortgage rates; plumbing; APR; pensions; weird middle aged health issues — but I’m stuck with them.
This is part of the reason I call myself a cyclist.
I could easily wander off now into a clichéd ramble about using my bike to escape the stresses and strains of modern life. I could talk about the peace and freedom to be had from a simple bike ride. I could dwell on the sense of satisfaction, the fresh air, and the chance to wear skin tight clothes without being arrested.
When I’m not busy staggering day to day disguised as a grown-up, maybe cycling is a way of controlling a small corner of my life with stats, goals, and achievements that have no basis in reality and no consequences?
Beyond being the very foundations of my self-worth, of course. But that’s a can of worms. And probably a separate issue. And might lead to a decade in therapy.
Judging by the fact that no divorce papers have yet appeared on my bedside table awaiting signature, my wife allows me this charade. Also, my kids still seem to recognise me as I emerge from my four hour jaunt in the hills.
Until I’m told otherwise I’m assuming all is rosy.
But suppose my wife is just one more Sunday morning of single parenting away from strapping me to a wooden chair, Reservoir Dogs style, and cutting off my ear in a rage?
Suppose my kids realise that I’m not actually out for a ride with Peter Sagan?
Suppose the leaky radiator in the back bedroom is dribbling through the plasterwork as we speak, because someone is ‘avoiding the issue?’
Suppose inevitable increases in interest rates are threatening the financial viability of my favourite hobby?
Suppose the weird middle aged health problems are made worse, not better, by cycling 120 miles per week?
Suppose some future pension crisis threatens the family retirement plan known as ‘Operation Tuscany’?
More than ever, I need a bike ride.