It's Not True What They Say About Cyclists
Updated: Dec 17, 2020
In the last few years, I've done that classic middle-aged man thing and really got into cycling in a big way. It's got me out the house and fit as a fiddle and, crucially, it's brought me many new friends. Yes, I wear lycra. Yes I go to coffee shops on a Sunday morning with other middle-aged men and women wearing lycra. Yes I bore people with talk of Di2 v 105.
Here's a classic trope about cycling that the very existence of this blog proves wrong: Cycling can reduce a man's sperm count. Here's a study that says exactly this.
Now I was totally behind this idea and thought it was encouragingly plausible. That is, right up until March 2019.
I had bought a new bike. A beautiful, shiny, extremely light and worryingly expensive bike from our wonderful local bike shop, The Bike Loft in Redbourn. I was extremely happy with my purchase. I had a spring in my step, a smile on my face and a major dent in my wallet as I left the shop and I couldn't wait to tell the OH. This was the start of a new phase in my cycling; hopefully a bit quicker, a little easier up the hills and, I had to admit, it looked the business. The OH was due home any minute so I put the kettle on, still grinning. The OH got home from work and, unusually, disappeared upstairs for a bit. Well, when you've got to go, you've got to go, I thought. I can wait a few more minutes before telling her the exciting news.
Then, there she was in the kitchen. "Er, I've got something to tell you."
Now, when you're 20 and a girl says "Er, I've got something to tell you" the FIRST thing you think of is "Oh shit she's pregnant'. There really is no other option available in your mind. Nothing. We, however, were so beyond that point that it wasn't even in the TOP 20 things going on in my head at that moment. We hadn't been trying. We had absolutely no plans to have children. We were perfectly happy without them. (Many parents I have met subsequently have a real problem with this; as if admitting we were happy without children must automatically mean we're unhappy with them. Silly.) So what, then, could she have to tell me? First, I thought maybe she'd broken something of mine. Then I remembered that she'd applied for a job in California - she'd got the job and we should start packing, hooray! Or, had her current employer finally realised they're not paying anything like the amount she deserves and there's a big fat bonus coming her way? Or maybe one of her amazing online projects had won an award and we were due at the Dorchester in our evening wear in 20 minutes.
Also, I'VE GOT SOMETHING TO TELL YOU TOO - CAN'T IT WAIT?!
"I think I'm pregnant."
I admit, that wasn't the most sensitive and Modern Man of me. But, WHAT??!!!
I sat on the kitchen table. This is never a good sign. Whenever anything serious needs to be considered in our house, I sit on the kitchen table. It gives me peace. And a slightly elevated position whilst also sitting down.
"Er, right. Um...er....Shit." Then I suddenly caught myself. "And also, wow!"
I don't suppose this is an unusual response from a man under these circumstances. It's hard to combine all the emotions you're feeling in that moment into one, easy-to-interpret expression. There aren't many other moments when you're faced with instant terror, elation, surprise, joy and oh-fuck all at the same time, plus the pressure of looking thrilled (regardless of what you're actually feeling).
We didn't really say that much for a bit, such was the wave of shock that we both felt. But our minds were racing. Typically, I immediately looked 20 years into the future and the idea of waving off my child to university with one hand, the other leaning on my zimmer frame. School! We'd have to go through school again! And how on earth were we going to pay for it, especially now I'd spent lots of money on a new bike?
Oh god, the bike. Now what? Was it the right moment to mention my recent purchase? Suddenly, I wasn't that excited about it. The bike could wait. But... "WELL, they were wrong about what happens when you take up cycling, weren't they??!!"