This past week I experienced something that reignited the four year old in me. Some may say that this is not too difficult to do in any man that has the vaguest semblance of a pulse and that may not be incorrect, but this time I was allowed to do it and nobody judged or scoffed with indignation. And to top it off, it was all done, with other men of a certain age, clad in lycra. Easy ladies.
On Thursday night, I went for a two hour taster session at the Manchester velodrome and it was magic. Yes, there were bald, pot-bellied men waddling around in shorts that clearly outlined any religious sect, yes there was way too much falsely-held bravado by men who were clearly not up to the task and yes, it did have the vaguest whiff of years of sweat, but heh, such is life.
I was part of the select grouping of attendees affectionately known as the special group, the fat kids at school who nobody chose for football in PE, and/or the kids whose aptitude for swimming starts and stops with drowning, but I didn’t care. I got the chance, after a quick briefing about flayed skin, how to fall off with minimal skeletal damage etc., to bomb around a cycling track that was so steep you couldn’t walk up it, on an expensive bike that did not have breaks.
The legs started to pump, the ego started to take over and all I could feel and hear was the dry and acrid air flying past, filling my nose, eyes, mouth and lungs and I loved it. There were no cries of “slow down”, far from it, no cries of “don’t do that” just sheer, unadulterated fun. The only slight downer, which the rampaging endorphins managed to silence, were the screaming thighs and the bellowing arse bones of the buttocks.
In my head I was graceful, elegant, stylish, full of verve and panache, barnstorming all-comers with my boundless speed-fueled power. I was a machine, poetry in motion, a perpetual, streamlined marvel. And then I saw the photographs. Exercise, grimacing features, lycra and all topped off with a crash helmet with more than a hint of a carer hanging just out of site. Still, I have my memories……
Something nice to look at: