Two wheels good, four wheels bad
One of my children was obsessed with bats and balls from a very young age, so much so that for his 5th birthday we bought him a proper tennis racquet – child size – and tennis balls, and he spent hours playing against the wall in the garden before starting tennis lessons. I suppose I could have become a tennis mom, except that I’m not American and I don’t see how I could have ferried him to all the coaching and matches and continue to jointly breadwin, if such a verb exists.
The other child turned out to be an excellent swimmer. The point being that each to their own. This became noticeable when people chose their lockdown exercise. Walking was available to all and plenty of people were exercising to online classes.
I was fortunate enough to have another option. I ordered a reconditioned bicycle from a friend of a friend who specialises in this field and collected it from him in early April. Up till then I did my lockdown cycling on ‘Old Faithful’ – a cast off from my daughter’s teenage cycling years. But I was delighted to promote myself to the new silver two-wheeled steed.
What fun we had cycling around London with virtually no traffic and clear bright days. Armed with a very handy app, it was possible to find unusual routes, cruise around the centre of the city, and see it virtually empty of people and traffic. It was wonderful and eerie, exciting and unsettling. We tried several routes and soon had our favourites.
I remember one day when we cycled over London Bridge and were heading towards the City of London. Suddenly we both stopped, staring across the road in total disbelief. What was this? Impossible. Were our eyes deceiving us? Reader, as you’ll never guess I will put you out of your misery. The unbelievable sight was a ‘little Waitrose’, open with NO QUEUE. I guess all the usual City workers were working from home. We dismounted and walked into the shop in a carefree manner – albeit wearing masks. I bought loads of rather unnecessary things. It felt marvellous.
Cycling kept me fit. When I was around 7 or 8 I used to bike with my best friend around the suburbs of west London for hours on end, and the freedom I felt cycling during lockdown took me back to those carefree times. And now I know I can cycle for extended periods I bike off to destinations that I previously would not have considered attempting on two wheels.
There are limits; I don’t like very steep hills and won’t be aiming for the yellow jersey, but the next step is to invest in some good lights so that I continue cycling as much as possible once the days shorten.
And if it’s pouring with rain and nothing will tempt me out onto those wheels, there is a wonderful range of cycle related films to watch. My favourite has to be Belleville Rendezvous. Its plot involves the diminutive Madame Souza preparing her orphaned grandson, Champion, to be a world-beating cyclist by personally supervising his arduous training regime. During the mountain stage of the Tour de France, Champion is kidnapped by black-suited men from the French mafia and whisked across the Atlantic to the city of Belleville.
You will need to see the film to find out the dénouement. You are in for a real treat.