At seven years old we were asked what we wanted to be when we got older. Amongst the usual answers of astronauts, firemen and the blue Power Ranger (stupid answer, red was much better), I didn’t hesitate to tell my teacher I wanted to drive lorries because it’s what my Dad did, and I thought it was the coolest thing in the world.
Over a decade later, and fresh out of university I was working for my Mum whilst ‘inbetween career steps’ and seeing her in a completely different light, from bad cook at home to professional woman at work who commanded respect from her peers and those around her.
Right now, I find myself several months removed from the charity cycle that rekindled my love for two wheels with a lack of motivation to get back on the bike. As mentioned previously, a sense of guilt comes over me when I walk down my hallway at home, seeing it sat there looking every bit the same as it did when I crossed the line in Amsterdam; arguably one of the best days of my life. Where I had explored the picturesque canals and rolling sand dunes of the Netherlands, I now struggle to ride half an hour up the coast.
As another late-summer Sunday rolls by, laid in front of the television watching the start of the new football season, and constant spurl of hype that make you believe West Brom v Stoke is the biggest thing to happen in professional sport (until next week), I got a text off my parents telling me they’d completed a full lap of Derwent reservoir. To a seasoned cyclist, this is no great feat, to even a moderately fit athlete it’s an everyday accomplishment, but for my 50+ something parents this is something they were rightly proud of.
Proud is perhaps not the feeling I was getting right now as I stood up and found that missing crisp from earlier as it rolled down my front, yet I yearned for the satisfaction of completing a challenge as they had done. Little over six months previous, they had their first adventure on their new bikes, struggling to complete the first climb from the car park, and here they were conquering their own bit of the Peak District. In that time, beyond the picturesque Derwent reservoir, they’d done much more; discovering new routes, trails and cafes close to home, that had bypassed them in the previous half century, but more importantly they’d discovered cycling and caught the bug that infects so many.
The sedate lifestyle that can suck you in, suddenly didn’t seem so enticing when the weekend rolled around and there was a brilliant outdoors to explore. They don’t have the latest carbon road bike with disc brakes, lighter than air forks and aerodynamic wheels, they don’t have the latest Rapha outfits with non-stick Teflon coating to ensure you cut a pattern in the air like concorde and they don’t go out wired up with heart-rate monitors and expensive computers measuring every pedal rotation against the last. Instead they have reasonably priced mountain bikes, comfy clothes and they measure their ride in terms of how much they enjoyed it.
Isn’t that what we ride bikes for? To enjoy it?
It’s the reason I started, and it’s the reason I’ll kick myself out of the lull that I’ve found myself in making excuses about the weather or repercussions of a sore ankle from a football injury. Next time I’m scrambling about the house trying to find an excuse why I can’t ride today or I’ll wait for after Christmas, I just have to think of the joy it’s brought two hard-working parents whose exercise regime has been ‘relaxed’ in the past 30 years. They don’t spend their time between rides trawling through cycling forums bickering about who’s bike cost the most, or who can get up a hill quicker, instead they share their accomplishments with each other, away from pettiness and one upmanship.
When I sat in Mrs. Garrett’s classroom and told her I wanted to drive lorries (probably in a bad jumper and pair of courderoy trousers), I was told that we don’t have to do what our parents do, but over 20 years on, I still want to be just like them.