But what if you didn’t remember what riding a bike was like? In my younger days I knew I had thigh muscles I just didn’t need to be reminded! These days I ride my new bike and I am instantly reminded that thigh muscles exist between my knees and my ….. well, you know. And that’s another thing, I sat at a desk for 35+years and was hardly ever aware what I was sitting on. But, hey, get on a bike and after a couple of miles I get one of those reminders! ‘Look out, you’re not sitting at your desk on your ergonomically-designed, spring-suspension, super-duper comfy office chair.’ Nope, now you’re on a bicycle seat, even one carefully equipped with a memory foam add-on seat cover specially made to protect those older and more sensitive bits I sat on for those 3+ decades.
And let’s not talk about elbows. Elbows which rested on a desk top while I read thousands upon thousands of letters and documents. Those elbows were perfectly well-behaved and never shouted at me that I was putting too much pressure on them, or had them cocked at an awkward angle. No those were great elbows. But now! Ha! Elbows with verbal diarrhoea that’s what they are these days. So what if I’m pressing rather hard and gripping the handle bars a bit too tightly, eh? I don’t want to be thrown off my bike because I have missed that rather-larger-than-should-really-be-on-the-sidewalk pebble which will then cause the wheel to wobble and me to wobble even more and the not unlikely result that I shall end up on the grassy verge. No, better to hold on tightly and suffer the complaints of my elbows. (Why am I riding on the sidewalk anyway I hear you ask. Well, in this semi-rural, sub-urban area we have a long straight road, only two-lane, along which rather large and heavily-laden trucks tend to speed. If I kept to the cycle lane I would most likely be safe, but some of those trucks don’t like us cyclists too much and they never move over half a lane to give me a wide berth. So on the sidewalk I go. There aren’t many walkers in this area so for most of my rides I don’t bother anyone.)
And let’s not even mention knees. My knees which these days are slacking on the job especially when they are supposed to be getting me back up to vertical when I’ve had occasion to bend down or, sin of sins, kneel down to get something. No, these knees which seem to have joined forces with the elbows make an ever so slight complaint that I could possibly be making them work a bit too hard pushing those pedals round. I ride along quite happily really, desperately hoping that no one driving by is noticing that I stiffen my legs every time I have to go over a sloping kerb so I can cushion the blow somewhat.
Stopping at the convenience store for the newspaper in full view of aforementioned truckers, or others buying whatever they need, requires a bit of planning. Don’t want anyone to get the silly idea that my legs might have turned to jelly from all this exertion. Plan: coast slowly to the far end of the gas station forecourt and try to stop the bike next to a parked vehicle. Fiddle around with pockets of jacket pretending to be finding the couple of dollars I have brought out to buy the newspaper. Real reason: giving legs a few seconds to get their act together before I have to fully dismount and walk into the convenience store. Ah, success. Full sensation returning to legs. Safe to lock bike and enter store. Phew, Sunday paper REALLY heavy. Elbows protesting. Knuckles, having spent time gripping the handlebars tightly, unable to release fingers to get the coins out of said pocket to pay for newspaper. Luckily, convenience store sparsely populated. Cashier engrossed in conversation with customer in front of me, politely with back to me (some people are so considerate). No one notices blood resuming its proper position in extremities and I successfully pay for newspaper and exit store.
Now to attempt the return journey to home – but first have to try to get the bike lock undone. Hmm, what was the combination………?