Saddled Up

Yesterday, finally after a week and a half of lockdown related delays, I got to go and collect my new bike.

About a year ago, I was driving… Radio on 12, sun blazing, and me flying through the countryside in the old work car with blacked out windows. I loved that car and the anonymity it gave me. I loved that people treated me with caution, didn’t tailgate me, didn’t toot, did jump in the air if I pulled up alongside them on the pavement… I liked that people were wary… That they didn’t know what to expect. I didn’t like so much getting tailed by police for the first month or so until they recognised me. It was a sweet ride, made sweeter by the possibility that people thought I may be a drug dealer or worse… Now in the new car, the greenhouse on wheels, driving is a different game. It amazes me that people still have it in their heads that women can’t drive… It bores me that behind the wheel and they behind the safety of their windshields, the battle of the sexes rages on as I’m expected to move out of the way to let the proper drivers pass even though I have right of way. They soon back down when I channel my inner dick and stand my ground. But not all men think women are bad drivers… Sometimes they tell me that my driving is pretty good for a girl… OK… I’m exaggerating a little, it’s a minority of men… But they can feel like more! The wiser men say things like – wow! Nice move!

You know… I think I might waste a few hours wandering around carparks and offering unsolicited guidance to men trying to reverse their cars out of spaces… C’mmon love, kept it coming, left, left, left… When did you ever see that? A woman taking it upon herself to tell a man how to drive his car… Or to have the audacity to get out an iPad and video someone parking in case they crash into your car. Yes, I’ve had some man do that… I played into the game and parallel parked 2cm off the end of his bumper, boxing in him… I was gone before he’d realised he wouldn’t be able to get his car out again until either me or the car the other side of his moved…

That’s the utter joy of being taken for stupid… It takes very little effort to spin things… Surely I didn’t do that intentionally? That would have required skills…

I’ve detoured off here, I was talking about bikes… So, there I was bombing along and I find myself behind a cyclist going at a good lick. I hang back behind him a while and I think back to days when I cycled everywhere… God! I missed cycling! Hmm… I must manifest a bike! I imagined myself tanking along, thinking of all the places I could go and I laughed… I laughed because the cosmos always moves quickly when I do that…

Less than an hour later, Mr S calls me – You’ll never guess what I’ve found abandoned in a hedgerow?

Is it my bike?

What? Your bike? Wait… How did you know it was a bike…

He reports the find and waits due course and the bike that the cosmos put my name on, found its way to me.

Oh! Blimey! Ouch! I didn’t recall cycling being quite so painful. I won’t tell you the name I have the saddle as that’s crude even for me… But that saddle had to go.

New saddle in place and things were better but I’m still cautious as the frame is just a little to high for me… I can ride OK but I’m going to come a cropper if anything sudden and unexpected occurs. All the scars I have on my body, come from flying over handle bars. Only recently has the last bit of grit worked itself free from under my eye, where it had been sat since 1987. Crashing in late teens was not good… The prospect of my much older and heavier self colliding with tarmac makes me a more cautious rider.

I decide that I can’t justify a new bike immediately… But there’s a win win here… Mr S will need a new bike before I destroy this one… So when the time comes, then I’ll pass this on and get myself a better fit.

The time came. I searched new bikes and the seat was my priority… I saw ladies sprung saddle genuine leather and I was sold. It didn’t occur to me that I’d actually bought a proper ladies bike until I went to collect…

Hmmm… That’s dainty! Should I be wearing Laura Ashley floral prints? I got the seat adjusted to the correct height. Butt on seat, my feet could touch the floor! Yes! Significantly reduced odds of unintentional flying experiences. Fantastic! I’d be unstoppable!

With one thing and another I’ve not been in the saddle for just over 6 months. But they say you never forget, so I just leapt on… HOLY CRAP! It veered wildly! It steered like some kind of clown’s vehicle!

I rode home… Slowly… Grasping to find my balance, fighting the urge to clap my knees together? Eh? Oh! No crossbar! I realised I’d never ridden a woman’s bike before, only chunky mountain bikes and my light as a feather fibre alloy framed racer that I could lift with one finger and carry over dunes in the Gower Penninsula…

Bloody hell! I can’t ride a woman’s bike… Oh… Wait… My balance is activating… Ah, OK, let’s go a little quicker… Something’s odd? Ah… I drive too much, I’m reflex checking a rear view mirror that’s not there…

I make it home and dismount. I look for the first time at the handle bars and they’re almost 45° to the front wheel… Oh OK, no wonder it was wiggly… I get them aligned and head out again.

Yes! Yes, this is much better! I feel the springs absorb the bumps in the road. The seat swallows those forces up rather than my wrists that the old bike used to hammer… My back feels good, curved in all the right places… Yes, this is a sweet ride. It’s a bit Enid Blyton as I dream of lashings of ginger beer even though I can’t stand the stuff. This is English Summer on the roll… I’m very happy on my teal mobile…

I thought I’d have to learn to ride all over again but all is good. (Though that’s the last time I’ll trust a man to set up my bike) 🤣

I’m not at war, it’s just prudent to be self-sufficient.

3 thoughts on “Saddled Up

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