‘Once you’ve learned it – you’ll never forget’
8:10am ‘Did you like my ‘attempt at showing off?’ I ask Cath as we pass, in opposite direction, outside school. We’re leaving after drop-off, she’s driving towards me, I’m on my bike, and lifted both hand, in greeting, attempting the victory pose.
Of course, as soon as my hands let go the bike start to wobble. In fits of giggles I grab on again and steady myself as we pas each other. My futile attempt has me laughing all the way home.
There is something about cycling that brings me right back to childhood. I biked everywhere, I can’t remember anyone who didn’t have a bike. Racing and doing tricks where stable parts of our days. Victory poses and no-hands cycling was normal. Had we been equipped with mobile phones, I’d be well be versed in the art of ‘ride and surf.’
Cycling makes me want to take risk, makes me want to speed and try tricks I used to know. But not everything about cycling works like the saying goes; ‘Once you’ve learned it – you’ll never forget.’ So I will have to practise my victory pose to perfect it again, maybe I won’t get perfect at all. I don’t mind that – for these days, embracing imperfections is a lot more fun than showing off. And should I manage no-hands cycling I won’t be adding my phone to the mix. I might do hands off but never eyes off, for potholes, pedestrians and crazy traffic is sure to send me flying into a very dirty ditch.
These are not the town and country roads of 1980’s Norway, where I was the king of the smooth tarmac, having long stretches of road to myself. Here, in Maadi, our roads are like Swiss cheese with danger lurking at every turn. Mountainous speed-bumps and craters deep. It’s an easy curfew to set for ourself, while on the bike, to get home before dark.
I learned that last Friday, leaving the BCA after another joyous Writers event. When the evening draws dim, blackness of night descend in minutes where streetlights goes begging. Half way home I smacked off the sharp edge of a pothole the size of a volcano, rendering any suspensions useless. Not practising victory poses or racing, at the time, I quickly rained in my wobbles. Slowing to a glide. I fixed my eyes on the inch of road ahead, doing my best to avoid the remaining obstacles as I meander, at the speed of snail, the rest of my way home.
Maybe a bike light would help? Remembering the sound of whirr from the dynamo spinning at the front weal, as I raced the dark roads of my childhood. The circular beam of light growing stronger the faster I went, disappearing as soon as I stopped – do they even make these lights any more?
Last night, around our dinner party table, my cycling victory pose is reviewed. ‘You’re flipping crazy’ our guests agreed, through cheers and raring laughter. Out tumbled stories, each one worse than the next. I recall, in my teenage years, an early morning speed-bike ride, in the driving rain being late for my Saturday job. Not a sinner in sight, I sped along the pavement, just to be safe. Hooded head down over racing handlebars, with no view of what laid ahead. What pillock parked that white wan on the pavement, I never found out. I came through on a stretcher and missed a days work.
Love & Light
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