What is it that divides my house? It's not love, for I love my family with my very soul. It's not financial worries, though like every other house in the land I cannot grasp quite where the money goes when I don't drink or smoke and my hobby is fed by my job. No, it's less obvious than that.
It's my bike. Actually to be more specific it isn't my bike(s) per se, more my desire to ride one of them every day. I may have used the wrong word there, in desire, 'clinical need' would be better. For someone with a long standing happy-go-lucky demeanour, I can become the most miserable man in Wessex if I don't get off road at least once in every 24 hour period.
The beginning of winter has brought this thorny subject to the fore yet again. With less available light, where I am seems to be a subject of national importance - at least in my house.
I'm a simple beast. I need the normal things food, water, shelter, love. I also need one more simple, but critical thing. But when I consider the trouble it sometimes causes me I wonder if getting it is worth the trouble. Getting out for a ride in the face of a family that is wired to have me around 24 hours a day, and a house which I'm often reminded 'doesn't do itself up' is tough. In fact, faced with the impossible task of making out for a ride, I often find myself wondering if Osama might rent a quiet, unfurnished cave in Bora Bora, where I hear the off-piste is good...
I have spoken about this situation before, where I explain to my long standing and mostly understanding partner, why it's different from wanting to ride, or fancying a ride. No, don't be mistaken, I NEED to go out on my bike. Usually the explanation is in direct response to her making the statement "Another ride? Didn't you just ride to work, at work and home from work...?"
Work is work. This one's for me...
So why then should the simple act of taking an hour or so, to ride, be so important to me? I think it is a number of things. One might be because riding bikes has been a constant in my life, come good times and bad, rain and shine, I've ridden. I've never been on the couch, but I can only think It's like going to a shrink, it sorts out where all the jumble of worries, feeling and emotions ought to be. It fills in the troughs of worry by showing me the benefit of self belief and motivation to crest steep hills, and it tempers my ego by beating my body with no mercy shown as you battle the headwind.
It may be that the saddle time is my thinking time. The bike rides itself, I cannot, honestly, hand-on-heart remember the last time I made a conscious decision while out on the trail The bit of my brain that makes conscious decisions is busy fixing up the rest of my life. Feverishly bridging the gaps between the solid ground of certainty. The bike riding is left to the swirling mists of my subconscious, where deeply ingrained experience plays co-pilot.
I arrive home. Often completely fucked, occasionally after longer rides or self imposed 'tests' without the strength remaining even to unbuckle my shoes. But in that helpless haze of exhaustion, is real happiness. Happiness not because I've reached a new peak of personal fitness, but because my head is in order. I'm then willingly available for mundane chores, DIY, even as cheerful accompaniment on her five hour window shopping excursions. Everything is sorted.
That is, until tomorrow.