This is my last word on the subject of 30 Days of Biking because, whilst I have been biking, I can find no more time for blogging (is that a sigh a relief I hear?). My last words are about my philosophy on sport, so they are tremendously profound (not).
I was always the last person to be picked for a team at school. I was always the last out of the changing rooms to make sure all the good team positions had been taken by the keenies. I was invariably relegated to goal on the hockey pitch to spend a happy hour dreaming about other stuff, thereby avoiding all the frantic action mid field and making the goal defenders work twice as hard to avert team disaster. In short, I was rubbish at sport. By sixth form I wore this skill like a badge with such pride that I was voted Sports Captain of my ‘house’ by friends who had just discovered the meaning of irony.
At university I found a friend who shared my lack of enthusiasm for sport and we spent many happy hours on the badminton court laughing a lot. In my diving I have met buddies who are happy to stay diving on a single cylinder, pootling to depths of not more than 30 metres, happily playing with the fish. My philosophy is therefore that any type of sport should be fun and it’s not compulsory to push to excel. There is of course a place for the winners (provided they win fairly) but there is also a very valid place for those who dabble, amble, pootle and giggle. Without joyous acceptance of us ‘losers’ walking up hills with our bikes, a sport can become elitist and marginalised. Cycling it strikes me, as a novice dabbling at the edges of real understanding, is going in all the right directions. It’s a totally inclusive, open and welcoming sport, and there’s no real need to say more than that. I am no longer in the changing room pretending to tie my laces, I have crept out and participated at my own pace, in my own way.
Nothing could illustrate the ‘fun’ nature of whizzing about on any sort of wheels better than the Fantastical Cycle Parade that I cycled to on Saturday in Todmorden. Here even hippos were on wheels, making me feel far less conspicuous in my lycra. Part of the Yorkshire Festival and therefore the Tour de France, this event took the whole cycling idea into a wonderfully different dimension far removed from “sport” but instead firmly into “fun”.
So as my 30 days come to an end, I find myself reflecting on what it has all meant to me. As a project manager, my life is depressingly dominated by definitions of outputs and outcomes, all of which can be artfully distorted to prove whether a project has been astonishingly good value for money, or not, depending on whose side you’re on, mine or the auditors. So here are my outputs and outcomes for my imaginary auditor;
1. I have got myself back on a bike after cart wheeling myself off one into a canal 13 years ago due to a bit of adverse camber. A soft landing you might think – yes and equally so for my new baby who was securely fastened to the bike seat as it also plummeted gracefully to silty depths. I have a hunch this is why, 13 years later he still won’t get on a bike, but has learnt how to scuba dive.
2. Actually I did get my son on a bike…on the back of a tandem….but he was still pedalling so it counts.
3. I have got my neighbour back on a bike after her rather nasty accident on a downhill mountain bike route where she broke lots of bits n bobs. We now have a pact to go out at least once a week on our bikes when 30 Days of Biking ends.
4. I have got my work colleague back on a bike after years out of the saddle. This achievement comes at number 4 cos she’s a fittie fell runner, not a lazy lush like me and my neighbour.
5. The cleaner at work has started cycling to work again because she has ‘seen the light’, but I’m not really sure that it was me that switched it on. However I’ll count it as an output anyhow cos the auditor won’t notice.
6. I have 30 excuses for not cycling to work on any day at all, ranging from “I forgot to take my bike home” to “I had no pedals.” On the whole I think the list is quite an impressive achievement in its own right and one which any child could easily tailor and adapt for homework purposes. I might sell it to my son.
7. And finally, I have lost weight, enjoyed myself, conquered hills, not conquered hills but not minded, got wet, got cold, got hot, got sweaty, I have had my bottom measured, I have bought padded pants, I have ridden a tandem and a 29er, I have made new friends and learnt new stuff.
To conclude (cos auditors do like a conclusion), its all been remarkably good value for very little money and at the end of the day, I remain the last person that anyone would pick for their team, but at least I am playing the game and enjoying it.
So its goodbye til next year when hopefully you’ll join me in 30 Days of Biking South Pennines. Thanks from the bottom of my heart to all of you for cheering me on.