It’s Monday morning – any Monday morning – and I’ve just walked into the office.
My current mood towards my work colleagues probably resembles barely disguised contempt. My usual loose-limbed and relaxed gait across the office is stiff and stilted, and it would be helpful if you could remain alert and ready to give me a nudge should I slump sleepily across my desk. Drooling on my keyboard is not the image I’m going for in the workplace.
By half past ten I will be attacking my packed lunch like a Grizzly Bear emerging from hibernation to devour a fresh salmon, and sloshing back pints of water to ward off the dry eyes and the tell-tale tickle in the throat. You may be forgiven for assuming I’d spent Sunday in the pub. But no – as regular readers may have concluded, almost every behavioural trait I exhibit is related to cycling in some way.
My Monday morning routine is that of a cyclist who not only spent the first four or five hours of Sunday riding up hill and down dale, but then had to address the household equilibrium by engaging in some serious and committed parenting for the remainder of the day. After eighty miles on the bike, it’s amazing how tiring a game of hide and seek can be.
By Monday morning, auto-pilot is as good as it’s getting.
Those of you without children may be glazing over and wondering what all the fuss is about. I’ll tell you. Looking after two boys under the age of six is entertaining, and life-affirming, and often a dance on the knife edge between good solid common sense and a serious health and safety incident. It’s a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon. It is also absolutely exhausting. If you have already emptied your physical tank whilst taming the hills of northern England, it is a true test of physical endurance. You should be presented with a medal, or at least a certificate, before crawling pitifully into bed at 8pm to sleep the sleep of the cycling parent.
After such a hard-core Sunday it would seem only fair to be granted a day off on Monday to recover, but this is not how my employer sees things. And so, I find myself tetchily stumbling around the workplace nursing a grumbling calorie deficit and a deep muscular ache that I’m taking out on my colleagues.
If you are child free, you may be lucky enough to spend Sunday afternoon slumped across the settee in full on recovery mode: remote control to hand, legs propped up on a cushion, and a selection of food, drink, and entertainment all reachable within your wingspan. In these circumstances the deep muscular ache is hard-earned and satisfying, proof that you’ve pushed yourself suitably hard, and your fitness levels are about to benefit.
I never openly discuss my Monday morning mood with my work colleagues, of course, because that would break the mystery. They probably suspect a drink problem.
As I regale them with tales of my exploits on the bike – humbly, of course, but not underplaying things too much – I enjoy the look of puzzlement that a non-cyclist gives to a cyclist upon the news that they’ve just ridden 80 miles for pleasure. To then complain that I’m tired would ruin the illusion, and anyway, being barely understood is one of the pleasures of being cyclist.
I think it’s better to maintain the façade than let my guard down and reveal the truth that yes, I know my way around a big day on a bike, and yes, I’m doing my fair share of parenting, and yes…
I’m absolutely bloody knackered because of it!