31 July 2014. NECESSARY MAINTENANCE

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I am already beginning to doubt myself. Even mid-training I’m wondering if I’m pushing myself enough, whether I’m allowing myself too many ‘one off’ treats to be able to realistically expect the outcome I hope for. My bike ride on Tuesday was rather shorter than planned, a doubt trigger for certain, but it also resulted in something rather magical and reassuring.

I hadn’t realised how much I had been missing cycling- just the simple act of cruising around- in the last few days of traveling and unpacking and life admin, until I was reunited with my old friend of yore:

Allow me to present to you:

THE DAWES LADY GALAXY

A circa 1970’s beauty, she is actually one of a his ‘n’ hers pair belonging to my parents way-back-when. I (that is: my dad) gave her a full tune up in my late teenage years after I became fed-up with the intensity of effort required to get around on the cheap and old-style mountain bike bought for me on my 11th birthday. I remember at the time my parents being so thrilled that I was finally big enough for them to buy me “the last bike you will ever need”. I now know what they ACTUALLY meant was “as you won’t technically outgrow this bike, we won’t ever be buying you another…you’re on your own kid.’ And so it was Lady Galaxy to the rescue; for years sad and abandoned in the garage in favour of shiny new hybrid bicycles. We were clearly made for each other.

She is one of the best things about moving back home…except that after 5 minutes of joy- the wind in my hair, the speed of a gentle downhill coast- I remembered her myriad flaws: the awkward seat angle, the aching palms on un-cushioned road bars, the fact that I can’t use my large chain ring and, Holy Jesus, the RATTLING!

Fortunately, I’m a little more bike savvy these days. Although I hadn’t realised it and it seemed that any bike troubles were simply examined, briefly explained and then fixed in a whirl of tools and mystery by my well-meaning boyfriend Tyler, APPARENTLY I have absorbed knowledge by some kind of osmosis. For, after a quick jaunt around a couple of local villages- marveling at the flatness of the English landscape and narrowness of the country roads- I set up in the garage, excavated my dads tools and set about fixing up all the problems I had identified…and discovered that I COULD. I EVEN know how to fix the front derailleur and regain use of the big chain wheel…if I can ever find a screwdriver that’ll fit in the bloody screw…they probably don’t make them anymore. I’ll work on it.

It’s so easy to look at things- a piece of machinery, a tax return, even a diet and exercise plan- follow the instructions and cross your fingers in hope of achieving the desired outcome. Personally, I hate that feeling of blindness- of going through the motions but not knowing WHY it might work. Sometimes it renders me completely useless, overwhelmed by my ignorance to the reasoning behind a process and left paralysed- not knowing where to start. And so it has been, that the men in my life have fixed up the problem as I sat agonizing over the fact that I just couldn’t understand- waiting for the moment when all of the pieces clicked together and I would know ENOUGH to do it myself.

That moment is now. The last time I looked at Lady Galaxy, she was a mystery: a cranky enigma that I loved but didn’t know how to nurture. Now, 2 years, 10 million half-watched YouTube instructionals and 3 failed attempts by Tyler to ‘teach’ me to fix my bike, I finally look at her and see all the little parts and the way they link together and how to clean and tighten or replace each piece to make her far more than she was before.

It will either sound very strange to you or it will make perfect sense, but the feeling of clarity that comes when things finally make sense is my motivation for just about everything and makes my present adventure all the more alien to me. Knowing the outcome and striving to comprehend the method is familiar, but knowing and understanding the process of fitness training but being uncertain of the eventual outcome is not. I hope that the novelty of the experience will be part of it’s value however, and teach me an alternative way of operating. This is the way I must think of it, rather than feeling discouraged by the uncertainty of the result .

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