Three-times Tour de France winner, Greg LeMond, once said, “It never gets easier, you just go faster”. It’s a great quote, but he’s wrong. When I started cycling again, I weighed nearly 100 kilograms. Most of those 100 kilograms could’ve been cut off and used to fry chips, were there not strict EU legislation against such things. Probably. An 8-mile round trip to nearby Amersham was a killer, and I’d need until the following day at least before my heart stopped beating like a fucked clock.
When riding a bike was so hard, writing about it was so easy. Spilling my guts all over the virtual pages of an interweb blogging site was infinitely easier than giving my soul to the tarmaced roads of Buckinghamshire. Sharing my agonies with the four people (if I include my mum) that read these pages eased the pain, and allowed me to give some humour to something that was otherwise excruciating. More than that, Fat Man on a Bike became my online cycling diary and, further still, the comments and encouragement from those that read it inspired me to carry on riding my bike.
Since that first recorded ride, way back in the Middle Ages or whenever it was, I’ve continued to ride my bike. I ride it for fun. I’m not training for anything, and I never have or will. I have met some of the most wonderful people ever to populate the planet. I’ve ridden in the Italian Alps, on the cobbles of Flanders, on Welsh mountains, in five different countries, and in many parts of the UK. I have ridden with Sky Pro Cycling and, despite my kind offer, Juan Antonio Flecha wouldn’t swap bikes with me. Soon, I will be going to ride in the French Alps, tackling the mighty Alpe d-Huez, Cols du Telegraphe and Galibier, and perhaps some other mountains too. With the exception of the ride with Sky, these events, all of which were wonderful beyond all comprehension, have gone unrecorded.
I wish I could remember who it was that’s supposed to have said “A happy writer is a lousy writer”, or something similar. It’s probably attributed to Mark Twain and, therefore, almost certainly wasn’t him. Whoever it was was spot-on, and I don’t mean flea treatment for cats and dogs. I doubt Bob Martin said anything quote-worthy, and his pet products are shit. The point is, I am now a happy cyclist. I weigh less than Lance Armstrong did in 1999, and I wouldn’t pretend to be ill if you rang to tell me we were off out to ride 100 miles today. My legs still hurt, my lungs still hurt. My arse, although toughened from hours in the saddle, still hurts. However, my mind doesn’t, so that’s it. Being a happy cyclist has turned me into a lousy writer. There’s no way I’m giving up my bike, so Fat Man, in it’s present guise, is over.
Leave the door on the latch on your way out, though…you’ve not heard the last from me.