When I became a cyclist

I’ve always had a bike, of sorts.

When I first met the Mechanic, I had a burgundy bike, I don’t remember the make, I used it to pop to the shops and not much more. Mr M secretly did not approve of it, but at the time viewed it through the rose-tinted glasses of young love and in an attempt to make it more acceptable to his cycling world, stripped it of its bell, basket, rack, skirt- guard and mud-guards ( all the things I considered to be very useful).

Quickly he persuaded me that I really needed something lighter and more ‘racey’. My next bike was picked up at a car-boot sale, it was a boys racing bike, made by Royal Enfield and I believe called a Super Firefly Deluxe, much more flashy, and I suspect covetable by any boy in its day. The Mechanic tinkered with it; new wheels, brakes and straight handlebars at my request – I used it daily to cycle the short distance to work and back.

A few years later there was a further upgrade, another second-hand frame, Reynolds 531, I loved this bike, and despite encouragement from Mr M. I would not part with it, I had it for 15years, I did at one point agree to a re-spray, and it remained my trusty stead until I became an ‘unprofessional’ cyclist!

Although I cycled, I never considered myself a ‘cyclist’ it was just my means of transport, when I felt like it.

One day almost four years ago, the Mechanic returned from an evening ride, he had gone for a quick spin after work up to Banstead in Surrey, on his return he talked about how he had smelt lavender in the air , how the scent had got stronger and stronger, and how he had then turned a corner and seen the most magnificent field of blue; Mayfield Lavender Farm.

I thought how much I’d like to see it, and tentatively asked how far it was, and how long it would take…about 12kms, it would take about half an hour he said. The following evening I left work promptly and we headed off to see the lavender. Firstly we had to tackle the South London congested roads, but once we reached Carshalton Ponds, it felt different, like we were out of London, in the country. I sniffed the air, no lavender smells yet, we continued south, and started a long uphill drag, we’d already been cycling much more than half an hour, and there was no lovely scent of lavender hitting my nostrils. We eventually reached a crossroad before Mayfield Farm, I did not smell lavender, probably because I was out of breath and panting so hard, and when we crossed the junction and turned the corner, I met the view with relief rather than enjoyment. I was so concerned about getting back before it got dark, and before my legs gave up, I didn’t take the time to enjoy the beauty of endless field of blue. The return journey, thankfully was mostly downhill, I arrived home exhausted, and undoubtedly a bit grumpy.

I was so horrified about how hard that ride was, and how I was not able to take the same enjoyment from it, as the Mechanic, that I started cycling, and became a ‘cyclist’. I now regularly cycle to Banstead on a Sunday morning, and can sometimes even be heard pretentiously calling it a recovery ride.

I now have my very first ‘new’ bike, I still miss the Reynolds 531, but I see it daily as it’s become the Mechanic’s TT bike.


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