Let me be honest – I am probably one of the least fit people I know. I am not a member of a gym, I do not go swimming unless I am on holiday and I do not have a penchant for jogging. In fact, my exercise is pretty much limited to an energetic burst of dancing at the Christmas party, and lugging my wares around for hours on end during lengthy shopping trips.
Oh, and sometimes I pop out a few moves when I’m doing the dishes with my i-pod on.
It wasn’t always this way though.
Several years ago, my parents were clearing out the shed and came across the bike I had spent so much time on as a teenager. It was promptly offered to me, just in case twenty-one-year-old me would be enamoured with the thought of reliving my youth and becoming a bike lover again. I remember being rather taken with the idea, and picked the bike up as soon as I could, my mind a whirl with the new life I was going to adopt aboard my rediscovered two-wheeled transportation.
On the first Monday of my bike-ownership, I woke with excitement at the prospect of cycling into work. It was a sunny day, and I was relishing the thought of spending time outside before being stuck in an office for seven hours. I leapt into the saddle and headed off down the road, exhilarated by the feeling of wind rushing through my hair.
Aside from one nervous moment I encountered whilst crossing a very busy roundabout, the journey went sweetly. I arrived at work in a buzz of energy, noticing with surprise that I had barely broken a sweat, despite covering a distance of 3 miles. There was an important reason for this, as I discovered to my cost on the way back home.
I have mentioned previously that I currently live at the top of a hill – as I have always done during my time in this city, built as it is on seven hills, a geographical phenomenon which makes it practically impossible to not live on a hill. The important detail I had failed to realise until it was too late is that the journey into work had been almost entirely downhill. I don’t know how I missed this fact, but I know how stupid I felt when the reason for my speedy acceleration towards complete body hurt became apparent.
After a mile I gave up with two wheels and proceeded to push the bike up the consistently uphill road, shooting evil glances through the windows of the cars whizzing past me with such ease. A mile and a half later, and I had completed my transformation into a quivering, sweating wreck who was seriously questioning whether or not she was physically capable of making it home
I trudged on, all too aware of the sun beating down on my hunched form as it forced one leg in front of the other, cursing the moment I said ‘yes’ to my parents’ offer of the bike and letting myself become enveloped in an unrealistic dream without fully considering the logistics of the plan.
By the time I made it back home, I felt like I had sweated every last drop of water out of my body and doggedly threw the bike into the shed before crawling up the steps leading to the back door, the last obstacle between me and my greatest desire: water.
After gulping down a glass of liquid heaven, I spent an hour and a half standing in the shower, trying to muster the energy to reach the soap that was located on the edge of the bath, before dedicating the rest of the evening to the task of staring blankly at the TV in a haze of self-inflicted fatigue.
How I crawled up the stairs to bed that night is something I will never know, but I awoke in bed the next morning with my body clenched into a mass of seriously disgruntled, under-prepared and overworked muscle. Even the tiniest movement seemed to use the entire network of muscles in my body and it somewhat unkindly chose to respond with pain – I could barely lift my arm to slap myself in the forehead while proclaiming a loud ‘doh’ at the easily avoided mess I had ended up in. I spent that day mostly in bed, tenderly hobbling to the nearest tap as frequently as I could manage to keep a glass of water nearby, and generally feeling very sorry for myself.
I got the bus to work the next day...
...and haven't sat in the saddle of a bike since then.