Whizz has a new job. It involves a short daily commute – about 10 miles – to Duckchester.
Accustomed to working from home and taking daily exercise on our cross trainer (another story), he soon found this sedentary job resulted in noticable expansion of his girth. This was not good. Neither was the soaring cost of his commute.
The solution, reached after some debate and trepidation, was the purchase of an e-bike. We calculated that if he cycled to work every day for two years, we would recoup our investment. You are allowed to laugh.
After a test run at the local bike shop, he arrived home with the contraption rammed into the back of our car. Not only the contraption, but a decent helmet, panier for his laptop and no doubt other accessories.
I was impressed by Whizz’s determination, though. It seemed a big commitment: not one I would readily make. His plan was to travel along the canal tow paths that lead almost from our door to the centre of Duckchester. After a good deal of meticulous planning in consultation with Google Maps, he set off to work on the first morning with a change of clothes stuffed into his paniers along with half an office.
It turns out that not all the tow paths are as well maintained as our local ones. He experienced much juddering of the saddle causing discomfort to his nether regions, and then… a fallen tree across his path. Not a sapling, a fully grown, entirely unpassable tree. This threw his plans into total disarray. We are used to this. Whizz is a careful planner but inevitably the universe steps in and throws him a curved ball. Remind me to tell you sometime, of our measuring experiences.
He had spotted a footpath earlier and decided to ride back and take it in the hope that a road might be at its end. Fortunately, he wove his way along pathways and found his way to work, only a few minutes late. ‘I think I’ll try the road next time,’ he decided, which seemed entirely sensible to me.
After a couple of successful journeys to work, Whizz became very keen that I should share his excitement. ‘Give it a try,’ he insisted, ‘Just to the roundabout and back.’ This roundabout is about one third of a mile from our house. I measured it when I used to jog. Yes, I know! I actually jogged, quite a long way – once. By once, I don’t mean ‘only once’, more ‘once upon a time’. Anyway, not wishing to dampen his enthusiasm, I agreed to give the thing a try – reluctantly.
Now, this bike is best described as a ‘sit-up-and-beg’ model. You know, like an old-fashioned shopping bike.
Meanwhile, I am more a sit-down-and-veg type of girl. My spreading hips and stomach occupied the majority of the space twixt saddle and handlebars. This, combined with a game left leg, meant that I could not take off and rise onto the saddle without catching the back of my waistband on the front of said saddle.
Undaunted, I took the bike to the curb and climbed aboard, then pushed off.
To explain about the leg: it was the result of an auto-immune attack in my early teens (Linear scleroderma if you want to look it up) and has resulted in muscle loss, and an ankle that only bends up and down – in other words, I can’t stand on the outside of my foot. The result is that if I stand on a lump, I am likely to fall over. I’m used to this, but it causes my companions some consternation when in mid-conversation I am suddenly at their feet. The foot also drags a little, so an uneven paving slab has a similar effect.
I rarely think about my leg. I wear a built-up shoe and most people don’t notice it – unless I fall over. So, leaving Whizz waiting on the drive, I was mounted on the bike and riding relentlessly towards the roundabout, when it occurred to me that landing on my left leg when stopping the bike was a terrifying, even impossible, prospect.
The roundabout approached, closer and closer, and I… turned left. Up the hill to the next junction, praying there was nothing coming from the right. Phew! Thank you, Universe! Left again, then round the bend, down the side of the bollards that mark the entrance to Robinghood village. Blimey, ouch, that was bumpy, past the school and into Pebbleditch, past the Indian restaurant and eventually, back home with the curb on my left, and… stop.
The drive was deserted – no sign of Whizz. In the kitchen I met with his worried expression – was it me or the bike he was most concerned about, you might ask, dear reader. Of course, it was me. It was! Anyway, he was in the act of putting on his shoes to come an find me.
And there you have it. I can ride his bike, as long as I only turn left.
Nam Myoho Renge Kyo.