In the doomed interests of resurrecting my bicycle fitness, my personal cycle trainer, [aka Husband] has begun the general cajoling, wheedling, persuading, justifying, soothing and encouraging needed to get me back into the saddle and off into the great beyond along the tracks and byways that make up France’s cycle-paths.
In preparation for this annual event he has cleaned and prepped the bike [a wondrous bike-not in the least responsible for my ineptitude], gathered together any equipment that may be likely to make the entire business less arduous and painful [for both of us, you understand], organised as much as possible in the way of safe, flat, sheltered routes offering respite along the way-in other words-bars, and prepared himself for the slow, pathetic, whimpering would-be cyclist I always am.
The ‘pistes’ are superb; flat [due to the terrain], tarmac, off-road, signed [mostly]. Husband is an expert cyclist, swooshing effortlessly through the half barriers and up over jutting kerbs with no perceptible reduction in speed. He offers an occasional glance over his shoulder to assess my progress and is rewarded by the sight of me back in the distance, affecting an undignified paddle through the chicane or lifting the handlebars up to scale the pavement. He offers strategic stops to assuage the soreness of the backside and the undercarriage; my own upholstery soon becomes tender, even with the gel-padded, hi-tech cushioning of the lycra cycle shorts that are wedged, nappy-like under my nether regions.
“Keep your speed up…and just GO!” he exhorts as I attempt to negotiate yet another obstacle. In the past I have endeavoured to follow this instruction, resulting in my crashing into the sides of narrow bridges or parting company with the bike [painfully on to gravel] on a particularly sharp corner and rashly into a night-time clump of aggressive nettles. I seem to have an innate inability to steer, needing to dismount completely whenever a complete turn is needed, or any sudden change in direction.
The traffic, thundering around the occasional roundabout where the path has momentarily disappeared, terrifies me. “I’m going to walk across”, I announce and he eyes me wearily as he waits for me to catch up.
Somewhere there will be an incline, perhaps to cross a bridge, or a cross wind-or a head wind, where I fall further behind. “Low gear!” he advises, unaware no doubt that I’ve been in low gear since we started out and have, now, no more gears of the low sort to change to…
Despite all this pain and effort I know that by the end of the month I will have racked up the kilometres and have returned to a semblance of my slow, summer, fair weather, recreational cycling persona, with a slightly more resistant derriere, sturdier legs, wind-blown skin and appetite for beer. Then I will be home and be able to take up the reins of Zumba where I left off……