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Just like riding a bike

I’ve been walking like John Wayne this week.Chris 4

Really.

People have commented on my distinctive gait – not to be confused with my distinctive gate. Why am I strolling like a cowboy who’s misplaced his chaps? The answer’s simple: I’ve been trying to regain my fitness level.

It’s amazing how quickly your fitness can go. Have a few weeks out of the saddle and Hey Presto! you’ve no stamina left. To be fair, I’ve a good excuse for not cycling in a while – the birth of my son, Sam. As anyone who has children will know, a new-born baby can take over your life – little things like an exercising regime can go out the window. So it was with cycling. As a result of our new arrival, this Fat Lad is now considerably fatter than he was a few weeks ago. Late nights, no sleep and too much takeaway food have made sure of that.

Finally this week, as my waistline began to visibly bulge, I decided it was time to get back in the saddle. I’ll be honest with you, it wasn’t easy – hence the John Wayne impression. Hills that I’d whizzed up with ease a few weeks before now seemed to be mini Everests! Even the flat took it out of me. I’m embarrassed to say that my first post-baby ride consisted of more breaks than actual pedalling. There I was in my full Fat Lad kit – including my favourite Bobby Dazzler shirt – being overtaken by kids on bikes with stabilisers. Not a good look.

The next day I threw myself into the ride again. A longer route this time. Despite my padded shorts I developed the fore-mentioned cowboy’s distinctive stance. Several hours later, when I entered the house, my other half announced that I was walking like I had just filled my nappy. An image far too close to home at the moment to be funny.

A few days passed without a cycle. My partner enquired why I hadn’t been out on my bike.

“Feeling a bit tired,” I moaned. “I think I’ll leave it for a bit.”

She wasn’t impressed.

“Is that the attitude we’re going to teach our son, eh? If it’s hard, give up?”

That was all I needed – I was Lycra’d within minutes. It wasn’t long before I was out struggling on the same hills as earlier in the week. They were still hard, but slightly easier than the last time I tried. Fitness is like that. I got back from my ride still walking like John Wayne, but I didn’t care. This was the walk of a man who didn’t give up and that’s important.

In the years to come I want my son to understand that perseverance is crucial. I want him to come to cycling events and see me, struggling at the back, but not giving up. Who knows, perhaps he’ll be a mini cyclist himself?

            “Hurry up Dad!” he’ll shout, speeding past me. “You look like you’ve filled your nappy.”

            “No, I don’t!” I’ll insist. “I look like John Wayne!”

            “Who’s John Wayne?” Sam will cry.

And there, in that moment, we see the Fat Lad circle of life.

Chris McGuire is a writer and FLAB MAMIL. He’s grateful that Lycra can stretch to fit his new (slightly fatter) waistline.