Wednesday, 23 December 2009

The Miracle

I've been sicker than many a sick dog over the last week, though on the upside, my previous virus, which lasted a mere nine weeks, had been well and truly out of my system for almost five days before this new thing started, so I've had a really good spell of near-health lasting almost a week. Musn't grumble, eh?

So, here's what I wanted to talk about. One evening last week, just before the icy Armageddon wreaked its chaos - how will we cope, by the way? - I was about to make my ascent up Archway Road on my trusty, middle-of-the-range Pinnacle bicycle. It's a bastard, that hill, a precipitous gradient close to vertical. I'm 51, you know, and asthmatic, and I've got exceptionally dodgy knees, and I've been a little above my fighting weight for a while now (47 years) yet I am forced into daily combat with this demon if I am to make it back to the sanctuary of my Muswell Hill manor.

Now, as any regular cyclist will attest, there is no such thing as a following wind. It doesn't exist. It's a chimera. Cycle round a roundabout, a full 360, and the gale will be in your face all the way round, battering you, pummelling the flesh on your face, ripping your hair from its very roots. All the way round. You hear me? It's nature at its most taunting and vindictive. And if there's a bit of rain in the air - with its spiteful shards and needles which pock and slice, opening little wounds to the flesh and spirit that may never heal - God help you.

So, anyway, there I was, rounding the grim dereliction of Archway Roundabout, bracing myself for the routine double whammy - wind-against plus vertical ascent - when a gust, no more, lifted me, driving me onwards and upwards on gossamer wings towards the brief, free-wheeling relief of Muswell Hill Road, my aching, ageing legs suddenly spared, my bronchial, wheezing lungs in unexpected oxygen-credit. It was like God's arm around my shoulder, forgiving me all my cycling sins (ok, I go on the pavement sometimes and ignore the odd - and even - red light). And, in that brief, epiphanic moment, I questioned my violent atheism for the first time in thirty years.

Course, it only lasted five seconds. A sleet-speckled tornado opened its jaws and pummelled my soul, mocking my natural lack of aerodynamics, my physical decrepitude, my fleeting belief in another way, and forced me to cycle through treacle as I searched for a gear that didn't exist.

Hey, cycling's fun, isn't it? Thinking of creating a blog all about its myriad joys - I've got a million stories. I mean, there are zillions of cycling nerds out there. Maybe someone will actually read the fucker.