Middle-Aged Man in Lycra

As the clock on my ageing work laptop showed 12.30pm I closed down Outlook and powered everything off.

12.35pm, I was upstairs, shoehorning myself into my aging lycra. Orange and Black like all of the most dangerous things, the McLaren F1 2017 team, Harley Davidson’s logo, Jaffa cakes.

By 12.40pm I had wrestled my Orbea out of the shed, first removing the lawn mower, and my son’s Mongoose. Both tyres were flat, the handlebar tape was loose and had run down the tube like Nora Batty's stockings.

I inflated the tyres and then reapplied the tape, finishing off with some new black insulting tape. I checked the repair kit slung under the saddle. It seemed tiny with just tyre levers, C02 pump and some patches. I looked for the spare tube I used to carry, but only found one for my ageing mountain bike. Not good.

But the sun was out and I was not going to be deterred. I’d risk having to do a proper repair if I ended up getting a flat.

On went the shoes, after being tipped up for spiders or wasps hiding inside. Luckily this time there was no evidence of the mouse that had eaten some of the inner. The water bottle was filled and out of date electrolyte added. It said best before 2014, but hey, there’s not much to go rotten in a solid tablet of minerals and artificial flavours it is there?

Helmet on. Shades on. Attitude of Apollo on. (Even though as a god I probably looked a bit more like a middle aged Budda.)

And we were off.

Except that I couldn’t get the clip in to clip in. Awkward...

The bus passed me, traffic did too. I tried again. Push, slide, wiggle, push and then that satisfying 'click' as shoe and peddle connected, latched together and became one.

I was off. Free, moving.

At the first roundabout I heard someone behind me. Expecting to see Froome, I was surprised to see an old gent, probably late fifties on his mountain bike. He passed me.


Chris Froome, not passing me. Image: Jaguar MENA

OK, maybe I’m not quite as fit as I used to be when I did this three times a week. Never mind, this was for me. I wasn’t competing with anyone.

Sometimes you just have to start. To move forward and worry about everything else later. Find something that you know will do you good, or help you to feel more alive and just take the first step.

I passed through my village and headed out to the countryside. After feeling a bit wobbly, I soon relaxed into the zen like feeling of just moving, swiftly (or so it seemed to me) with only the faint ticking of the gears and the smooth rush of skinny tyres on hot tarmac.

Passing the golf course I surprised a squirrel and then watched a thrush eating a snail in the road.

Further along and I noticed the old BT phone box that had been turned into a community library. On a small village green the old couple sitting on a shaded bench watched as I passed.

By the time I hit the busy junction I was more confident in clipping in.

By the 5th mile I suddenly realised that I wasn’t thinking about time, or distance. All I was doing was enjoying the feeling of movement under my own power. I could go where I wanted, I just had to point the front wheel.

Cycling used to give me such a great deal. Not really just pleasure but more. It gave me exercise, it forced me to clear my head of worries as I focused on the road ahead and finding the best path to avoid potholes. It gave me time on my own to just lose myself in an action.

And it used to bring back feelings of being a kid on a bike, with the whole world seemingly in front of you and yours to explore. And with ‘that’ feeling comes joy and excitement and life!

The rest of the ride passed in a warm July day dream. When I arrived back home, sweating buckets but without having had a puncture, I checked my Fitbit stats.

In that one hour I’d burned over 500 calories, raised my heart rate to burn fat and improve my cardio health. But more than that I had, for that one hour, felt alive.

I need to get back into that saddle again. Maybe you do too?

Something to share or your story to add? Let me know.