And so, I arrive in the present. Eventually! Well I did warn you about loquacity!
The question is being asked by my friends as to why I have suddenly put a rocket under what had really only been a mild flirtation with cycling in the past to the extent that I have become almost obsessed by it now? One reason is a general quest for better fitness which included a “challenge” I set myself at the turn of 2009 to ‘do something, do anything, but (to use the Father Ted version of the Nike ad) “jus’ feckin’ do it!’ before I hit 50 in October. This was mostly because I know myself too well and realised if I didn’t set specific targets, I’d in fact do bugger all except have yet more half-hearted forays to the gym and even more chocolate. Remember all the promises made when I bought the Cape Wrath? Did they come to fruition? Did they diddly! No, this time it was make or break. The target included running a 10K before my birthday and my friend Jill was instrumental in pushing me (sometimes literally!) forward towards that target. The story of the momentous events in my running career (or was it a careering run?) can be found on another page – meanwhile back at the cycling and the sudden resurrection.
Sometime in August I was sitting in my front room watching the rain falling. Well at least that is if you can say that coming in horizontally constitutes falling. I was aware of some excitement going on outside that wasn’t the normal activity of neds and nedettes shagging in the bus stop opposite while other neds attempt to set it on fire. On this occasion the babble of excitement heralded the arrival of one Lance Armstrong. Now this is not a sight you see on the streets of Renfrewshire towns too often, but there he was: haring up Main Road leaving a trail of Paisley buddies in his wake. I suspect half of them had stopped at the chippy at the traffic lights for a fish supper (well, it was 10.30am!) and another quarter had paused in aforementioned bus stop for a fag. But there were a few brave souls attempting to keep up with him as he sped along at Mach3 or whatever it was. Impressive – that’s what it was, especially as it was obvious he wasn’t really pushing it and still left everyone behind. But if he didn’t push in cycling terms, Lance Armstrong was probably the metaphorical push I needed. But he was not the only one.
Ultimately it was a bonsai acquaintance who provided the kick up the crank shaft I needed and has been the “uplifter” for me in cycling. My friend opened up door to my new hobby, sport – call it what you will. There has been a knock-on effect as well, as the cycling has given me a renewed zest for life at a time when the job situation has been a real downer, lots of new challenges and self-stretching, and a bit of self-belief back in that I’ve found something I might not be totally pants at!. And so it came to pass that, in my own inimitable manner of not settling for halves, I returned to saddleback this time embarking on serious riding, but with some fun stuff in there from time to time too. The fitness is coming and I’m even managing to get up hills without needing a defibrilator. Am I now a real cyclist? Probably not yet, but I’m getting there. There remains however, the challenge of the Larkfield Road…