Celia’s recent fall from her bike, not grace this time, has got me thinking about cycling again. Cycling again shouldn’t be confused with recycling; the days of cyclists using anything but the latest have been overtaken by a cycling revolution where everything is brand new and expensive. Once upon a time cycling was for everyone as it was the newest thing on the block, then cars got cheaper and cycling became the preserve of the thrifty and those on the margins of society such as students, convicted drunk-drivers and vicars. All this has changed, and now cycling is the thing to be seen doing. Pouring yourself into lycra, and heading out on your bike has become our equivalent of the Italian passagata. Where, on balmy evenings, the young and the beautiful of Italy walk, not for fitness, but to be seen. Weekend bike rides are just like that; except that they aren’t just like that. The young and the beautiful of Italy shouldn’t be confused with the aging and brightly attired of New Zealand wobbling around the roads on bikes that cost more than their cars, hoping to expend enough energy to justify a latte and muffin at the café before they have to get back to drive their kids to McDonalds and the movies.
I don’t mean to sound like a grump; exercise has always been one part being healthy and one part being seen to be healthy. I remember when aerobics was in; everyone fitted out with trendy leotards and footless tights moving to the latest tracks in an airless mirrored room. Cycling is the new aerobics. Cycling will have its turn before being replaced by something else. Exercise has always been like this – remember marathon running, squash or triathlons? It’s almost certain that a few million years ago one of our ancestors, tired of galloping around on all fours, stood up and said, “hey everyone – try this!” The new craze would have caught on, and I’m sure that pretty soon early bipeds were putting on a grass sweat band, shaving their legs, back and palms and going for a quick blat around the savannah before hubby got back from the quarry.
At least adopting bipedalism wasn’t expensive; it might even have providing savings – elevating their hands out of the dirt must have reduced manicure expenditure for one thing. Although having their hands free would have created the need for handbags which would have set early humans back a bit.
Cycling does bring people together in a way that say, planking doesn’t. However cycling is not the way to meet your soul mate. The snippets of conversation you can have while cycling up a hill will not allow you to show off your engaging wit and knowledge of Rugby’s off-side rule. The only chance you will get to use these tried and tested men trapping tricks is during the post ride café. This is the perfect opportunity if you are looking for a man who likes a woman to be enveloped in a sweaty fug with her hair industrially steam-ironed to her scalp.
Cycling does get people out doing something healthy and enjoying themselves. I just get a nagging feeling that we’ve been here before. So I’m going to keep some space in the attic for my bike. I know that there’s room up there beside the Jane Fonda workout videos, squash racquet, cross trainers, swim goggles, roller blades etc.