Enjoy The Ride

Good grief, if it’s not sinus problems it’s – well, I’m not wholly sure. A stonking summer cold perhaps? Or maybe it’s some kind of late-onset hayfever type thing. I don’t know about the latter but I know it doesn’t feel quite like a ‘traditional’ cold. Whatever it is, the glorious panoply of streaming nostrils, a lumpy throat, watery eyes, sneezing fits and an overwhelming inability to concentrate isn’t a lovely way to feel.

As I write this, I’ve one friend just starting out on a course of chemotherapy for Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, another recovering from major bowel cancer surgery and another with an obscure but nevertheless debilitating condition that the nerve-blocking surgery she’s just undergone hasn’t fixed.

If ever I find I’m being pathetic and feeling sorry for myself, it’s all too easy to bring to mind examples of people dealing with health issues far worse than my dismal little ailments, and when I do I can readily feel quite ashamed of myself. Self-pity is always deeply unattractive and that unattractiveness is multiplied by the extent to which it is unmerited.

Naturally enough, as I get older I find it’s much easier to bring to mind real, close-to-home examples of people with health problems far worse than anything I’ve ever had to deal with. No surprises there, but it does make overcoming self-pity much easier – much easier than, say, always remembering the plight of AIDS sufferers in Uganda or any other people similarly removed. I suppose that’s a very dubious benefit of clicking up the years.

Anyway, despite feeling mediocre, I went for a ride anyway and put in 35 fairly hilly miles in South Oxfordshire, and felt far better for having gone out. I didn’t push it and I’ve become a lot more in tune with how my body’s working over the years so I knew I was well within my capabilities. Getting out and doing something isn’t always going to be the right response to feeling cruddy, but it can be.

Stopping at the lights at Streatley, a cyclist I’d overtaken (and said hello to) just a few yards back caught up with me and we chatted as we waited. I was saddened by the way she felt the need to say something about ‘only riding a crappy bike’, or words to that effect. As I said to her, it’s not the bike that counts, it’s the rider.

I felt quite bad about that. Yes, I’m poncing about on a nice Colnago and yes, I’ve always liked nice bikes for what they are – whether I’m riding them or not. I hate to think that that’s in any way coming across as some kind of reflection of a snobby or elitist attitude on my part though. All I hope is that you’re enjoying the ride, whatever you’re riding.