As anyone who even vaguely knows me and my wife will tell you, I’m the one who does the cycling and she’s the one with perspective, a variety of interests, and a balanced social life. This is a very good arrangement that suits all parties just fine.
We all know where we stand, we all know what I’m up to when I’ve been excused parenting duties, and our combined salary only has to support one excessively expensive hobby.
At least that was the case until recently, before my wife acquired a bike.
When I say ‘acquired’ I don’t mean in a loveable-rogue-nudge-nudge-wink-wink-fell-off-the-back-of-a-lorry kind of way, but that she got a bike in favourable (and legal) circumstances via the goodness of someone’s heart. A nice one too – a Ridley road bike.
‘Acquired’ sounds like some East End gang were involved; my wife is indeed from the south of England, but as far as I know conducts her affairs largely within the law.
Having not ridden a bike for about fifteen years she is currently finding her feet. She has so far successfully negotiated the local cycle path without ending up in the river, the bushes, or the local infirmary, an achievement that anyone familiar with my wife’s tenuous relationship with movement and balance would describe as a resounding success. She also returned in the grip of the kind of post exercise endorphin related high that I exhibit after every ride.
To me, that post-ride high is the single most important reason I’m able to maintain cheerful human relationships. Without it, I am just a grumpy man in need of another bike ride. My wife is cheerful anyway, and won’t let something so trivial as a bike ride dictate her state of mind. To her it’s just a happy by-product.
And there are other by-products.
For example, I recently spotted her browsing the internet for women’s cycling kit. Largely the expensive stuff, as far as I could see. Which leaves me on tricky ground. On the one hand I can see the colossal hit our combined bank balance may be about to receive. On the other hand I can see nothing but a gigantic can of lycra-clad worms being opened were I to make any kind of judgement on whether we should really be spending money on cycling kit.
That’s the kind of thorny issue that really needs building into the wedding vows, to be agreed before you tie the knot.
But this new found affection for life on two wheels could affect the equilibrium of our relationship in other, more subtle ways.
For example, when we find ourselves driving the local roads of Lancashire I delight in taking us off down as many unknown and barely passable back lanes as possible. It’s a running joke. “Well, I have absolutely no idea where we are now” she mutters, as I avoid errant sheep and point out the kind of obscure and irrelevant landmarks that only a cyclist could know. The sat-nav gets confused, and my wife rolls her eyes, until we emerge at some familiar junction and back on roads designed to support civilisation.
“Oh, look where we are!” goes the punch line, and my wife delivers it beautifully.
Only I know that we’ve just travelled seven miles to cover three. It’s one of those little details, an in-joke that keeps the world turning. I’m pleased to have demonstrated my navigational prowess, my wife is relieved to have held the beckoning car-sickness at bay, and she plays along.
But if she gets seriously into this cycling lark she might develop her own intimate knowledge of the lanes of Lancashire. She might even find a few that I don’t know about, and the marital balance could be well and truly disturbed. Obviously I’m delighted that she’s discovered the simple joy of a bike ride, but everything used to be so simple.
Where once we all knew where we stood, now all bets are off and everything is up for grabs.
What if she starts her own blog?