I’m pretty sure my wife likes the fact that I’m a cyclist – she understands the style, the culture, and the tan lines. Having said that, I’ve never yet shaved my legs. It might happen one day, and she’ll have a view on this.
There’s also no question my cycling habit shows up on our monthly trawl through the bank statements. It would help if bike shops had names which were slightly more vague, to give me some Wiggle room.
It’s also true that I have a habit of leaving cycling kit lying around the bedroom, usually draped openly across something. I can only assume that my wife has noticed this too, though she has remained tight lipped. Rather than screw up my sweaty kit and chuck it in the washing basket to stew, I like it to dry out first and get some air. In my mind, this is to everyone’s benefit: by treating it well I am extending the life of the kit and so reducing the financial cost of my cycling obsession.
And so, the marital bedroom is strewn with items of merino wool and Lycra.
There are positives to my love of cycling too.
On balance, it probably makes me healthy, apart from the odd occasion when I fall off, when it makes me very suddenly unhealthy in a quite dramatic way. Playing the long game, this added healthiness benefits my wife because it means I’ll be useful and productive well into later life (and yes, I realise that this statement includes the rather large assumption that I’m useful and productive now. For the sake of argument, let’s just run with that…).
It also makes me happy. Something to do with endorphins, as far as I know. The downside to my impending long, healthy, and happy life is that she’ll have to wait longer for the life insurance pay-out.
So, swings and roundabouts, I suppose.
As many cycling bloggers have documented before me, combining the maximum amount of riding time with effective and responsible parenting/husbanding is a challenge. The aim is to maintain a status quo whereby my annual mileage is somewhere near the 5,000 mark; my two-children are healthy, well balanced, and secure in the knowledge that they mean more to me than the bike; and my wife is happy too.
If I’m honest, I don’t ask her that rather loaded question too often. Can of worms, etc…
But there are other questions:
“Why are you going on your bike again, daddy?”
“How long will you be?”
“Why can’t I come with you?”
“Why do you ride your bike so much, daddy?”
And my personal favourite…
“Just don’t bloody fall off, OK?”
But there is theme running through all of this.
‘I’m pretty sure my wife…’
‘I can only assume my wife…’
‘…she has remained tight lipped’
What if all of this is a festering resentment, unspoken and bubbling away? Could it be that my wife curses my insistence that I’m a cyclist, rather than a father/husband/family man who happens to ride a bike (big difference)? Maybe every item of sweaty cycling kit pushes her a little closer to the edge? Is each dent in the bank balance another blow to my façade as a responsible grown up with willpower and perspective?
Perhaps her tolerance of the fact that I’m am utterly obsessed with riding my bike is finite, and one day the bank balance of goodwill will run dry. It could even run dry at the very moment the actual bank balance runs dry following my latest bike related purchase.
Which would give a certain symmetry, if nothing else.
But seriously, joking aside, this idea of a ‘cycling widow’ is disrespectful, isn’t it? It’s not even much of a joke. ‘Golf widow’ used to be the phrase, the implication being that it’s fine for the man of the house to spend all afternoon whacking a little ball into a hole with his mates, whilst making light of leaving the wife to hold the fort.
Just to be clear, I am in no way comparing the game of golf to the act of being epic on a bike. One is about dressing poorly and engaging in a futile and over-elaborate display of unnecessary competition. The other is a noble pursuit with history and heritage. I’m just comparing their time-consuming natures.
The world’s moved on, at least a bit. Hasn’t it?
Compromise is what we need. So how about I continue to ride the bike whilst making sure my wife has equal opportunity to engage in her hobby of choice? I’ll put off shaving my legs for a bit longer, tidy up the sweaty cycling kit, and I’ll also meticulously fake my own death at around 55 to make sure she has a good few years to enjoy the insurance pay-out.
Can’t say fairer than that.