You never forget how to ride a bike, they say.
It’s funny, “they” never remind you how bleepin’ hard it is to ride up a steep hill.
A mountain bike has been on the wish list since April 1993, the end of my carefree university days and the beginning of efforts to pay off a $1,343,234,123.03 student loan.
It’s a purchase that was never made because other things took priority, like paying off said loan and grown-up things like cars, mortgages and craft beer.
Each spring, the Canadian Tire flyer includes a reminder of my mountain bike fantasy when it plugs sweet deals on two wheels.
The sight of those Supercycles always makes me hum a Queen song: “I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike.”
On Father’s Day, my wife made that possible by tying some ribbons around a mountain bike and placing it in the driveway.
It was an awesome, unexpected surprise.
On Friday evening, after a busy work week, it seemed like a great idea to unwind by taking the bike for a long spin on the old rail bed just up the hill from our home.
My wife, who bikes there a fair bit, advised me it’s a bit of a push to get up the hill to the track but added that she has no problem doing it.
I didn’t expect any troubles either.
But just 100 feet up the hill from our house, my quads were quaking and destined to detonate.
Serious muscle damage was likely a few pedals away and pushing through wasn’t option.
And, as if the situation couldn’t become more critical, “RRIIIPPPP!”
My shorts tore open.
I hope the neighbours weren’t watching or recording on their iphones.
It was time to abort the mission of riding on the old track. But I couldn’t return home 60 seconds into my first bike ride since the Mulroney government.
I decided to cruise quietly downhill past the house and find a flat stretch of road.
Thankfully my wife didn’t see or hear me speeding by.
Imagine her ribbing if she did: “Steve, your seven-year-old son can do that hill” ... “Do you want me to put the bike in the classifieds now?”... “I should get a baby carrier and you can ride on the back with me.”
Within a few minutes, I was enjoying a spin down a flat street.
Finally, the feeling I’d been waiting for – the fresh air ... the freedom ... the ... “OUCH!” ... the freakin’ pain!
There’s something else “they” don’t remind you about – how much your butt hurts after an extended period of time on a bike seat.
Between my throbbing thighs, torn trunks and aching asset, this decades old dream was a disaster.
It was time to wave the white flag and walk the bike back home, a 20-minute hike that felt longer than a romantic comedy starring Ryan Gosling.
Around the corner from home, to save face, I got back on, pedalled into our driveway, collapsed on the couch, and wondered if there were any Adirondack chairs on sale in this week’s flyers.