Let’s be clear on one very important fact ….. I am no spring chicken! Most days I feel ancient (about 500 years old). My joints ache and if it weren’t for the wonder of modern hair dyes, I’d be very, very grey …… but then I did start going grey in my early thirties and (as any land rover owners wife will tell you) I do have extenuating circumstances.
But I digress.
In June this year Middle Mudlet will be doing her cycling proficiency training and test which all the primary schools in our area offer, free, to Year 5 pupils. Before the training begins, all the children taking part have to present their bikes for a safety check. With this in mind, Mud and I realised that Middle Mudlets existing bike just wouldn’t pass muster and her request for a new one for her birthday wasn’t at all unreasonable.
So Middle Mudlet became the proud owner of an Apollo Elusion which whilst not being the best quality bike in the world was more than adequate and would last her a good few years. Little Mudlet, who had outgrown her own bike, inherited her sisters old one and one afternoon, a week or so ago, with Mud and I on foot, we took the Mudlets on a bike ride up one of the lanes that surround our village. This first expedition proved a couple of things:
- Middle Mudlets old bike is woefully inadequate, well past its’ best and needs retiring; and
- Mud and I are too old to be trying to keep up on foot with two very energetic children on bikes!
“We’ll have to get Little Mudlet a new bike,” Mud declared a shortwhile later, as we struggled to recover from what had turned out to be quite a brisk 2 mile walk.
I had to agree, as our poor youngest daughter had really had to work hard to keep up with her older sisters new, multi-geared mountain bike. In the end we decided that we would get a new bike for Little Mudlet now but it would actually be a birthday present, although her birthday is months away yet. Muds’ reasoning was that if we waited for her birthday then she wouldn’t really be able to ride it much, as winter would be just around the corner but if we bought it now, she would get the use over the summer. With that decided Little Mudlet then spent an enjoyable 20 minutes or so looking through the bikes on the Halfords website, before finally choosing one that she really, really liked.
“We’ll get that ordered, ” Mud told her …… and then he floored me by declaring, “Of course it’s not much fun for the girls to have to stop every hundred meters or so while we catch up. We’ll have to get bikes too, so that we can go for long rides as a family!”
The latter part of this declaration was made as though this was a fantastic treat, to which I should be looking forward with gusto and huge amounts of enthusiasm. Instead I am absolutely positive that all colour drained from my face and a look of pure fear took up residence.
Was he mad? Me? On a bike?
As Mud continued to wax lyrical about the benefits and pleasure to be found in regular bike rides and began the search for a suitable bike for himself, local tracks and cycle paths and read reviews on everything from the bikes to water bottles, I was trying to work out when was the last time I actually ridden a bike?
The answer? Thirty years ago ………… and I came off ………… over the handlebars …….. and it hurt ….. a lot!
Much like when he had decided that the car I needed was one bereft of any mod cons and which required the use of a step ladder to access the cab, Mud steamrolled over all my objections listing the benefits of bike ownership, such as exercise, being able to nip to the shop in the next village without using the cars, the money saved on diesel etc, etc. Of course this put me in mind of the list of benefits originally put forward for buying the land rovers, you know phrases like ‘cheap to maintain and repair’ …… hmmm.
Mud had soon identified his dream bike, had read every review ever written about it (and there were plenty of them) and would have ordered it there and then but for the fact that he wasn’t entirely sure what frame size he needed. Then it was my turn.
“You need to be looking at mountain bikes,” he said, pushing the mouse into my hand.
Dutifully I trawled Halfords looking for a bike I might be happy riding, briefly deviating from instructions and dipping into the realms of the Hybrid before utterances of ‘You need a mountain bike’ steered me back to the appropriate pages. I finally found one I quite liked to look off which wasn’t over expensive and which even had rear suspension. I f I really had to have a bike and it had to be a mountain bike, then this one would do.
Friday last week, Mud had the day off and decided that we would go try the bikes in Halfords first thing which we did and when we got home there was no putting off the inevitable and the bikes were ordered.
“Look hunny,” an excited Mud said, almost bouncing round the room,”They’ll be ready for collection tomorrow!”
Unfortunately Saturday morning brought with it the news that my bike had been badly damaged in transit and would I like a replacement or to choose something else. Now surely this was a sign that it simply wasn’t meant to be? That bicycles weren’t destined to be a part of my life. That two feet or four wheels were to be my mode of transport for the foreseeable future. I hadn’t been around for that fateful phone call but Mud had, it transpired, enjoyed a lengthy conversation with the Halfords employee discussing the best way forward and the following facts were disclosed:
- The bike I had chosen was made of inferior materials and probably wouldn’t cope well with the sort of riding we’d be doing; and
- A hybrid bike (the sort I had been looking at in the first place) would probably suit the sort of riding I’d be doing with the family and I would more than likely get a better quality bike for not very much more money.
At this point I already had an idea as to which bike I wanted as I had seen it in Halfords the day before. Back to Halfords website and I selected the filters to bring up womens hybrids but the bike wasn’t there! How odd. Not to be beaten I tried a different tactic and selected the make of bike instead and there it was in all its’ feminine, old fashioned glory – the Pendleton Brooke Hybrid bike! And it had a choice of bundles (bet you only thought they came with games consoles) including one with a wicker basket which we had already decided was a must, as I would potentially be using my bike to nip to the shop.
So today I got my bike, we packed a picnic into the basket and trundled off on a family bike ride along one of the village lanes. After some 30 years, it was a little unnerving to be back on a bicycle but we did a round trip of a little under 4 miles and I have to say that I am feeling every one of my 500 years tonight. However, my bike was a delight to ride, with a comfortable saddle (unlike Muds bike saddle – he’s already had to buy a more comfortable replacement) and I’m guessing the padded cycle shorts Mud also bought me helped as well.
Talking of Mud, he has announced that he is going to cut back on his cigarettes to help repay part of the cost of his bike ……… but then he made that promise once before …… there’s a reason his Land Rover is called Ciggy you know!