The duchess and I went on our first Grand Adventure today. (The Duchess is the name of my bike....its hasn't caught on yet - most people still simply call her "your bike" - but I've committed to the name so I'm going to back myself and keep using it). We've been on a couple of small adventures around town but today we decided to plunge ourselves into the exciting new world of intercity travel and I cycled to work!!!
Typing about this experience is more difficult than usual as my body is in complete melt down. I feel like my bones are crying. I am living in Seville but I work in a park in La Rinconada. The park is 12km away from my house: I know this, because my workmate measured the cycling distance on her phone. This is the same young lady who cycled to work last week and told me that the journey wasn't that hard. She strolled into work one morning, bicycle in tow, bright eyed with windswept hair and rosy cheeks. I asked her if she was okay and she said "I feel amazing." I looked at her and thought to myself "I want to feel amazing! I want to have windswept hair!". So yesterday after much deliberation I decided that today was The Day that I started my journey towards becoming the cycling goddess that I've always dreamed of being.
Obviously I didn't get windswept hair because I approached the adventure with extreme caution and terror, and wore my electric blue bicycle helmet. I was in fact quite diligent in my preparation. Me and The Duchess woke up bright and early and I had a pot of porridge to warm me up before setting off. I even put my jumper in my backpack instead of wearing it so I wouldn't overheat and spontaneously combust. Despite these preparations I began to wonder if I'd underestimated the immensity of the task at hand...Just as I was struggling to fit Duchess into the tiny lift in my apartment block, I got a Whatsapp message from my dear Workmate saying "dont forget to stretch." An ominous message to receive indeed. Years of PE lessons, where I was always relegated to the bottom ability group and even my closest friends refused to be my partner due to my complete lack of ability, have taught me that if you have to do stretches before embarking on an adventure then the adventure really isn't going to be enjoyable. Nevertheless I am at heart an optimistic person so I stretched as hard as I could (and I NEARLY touched my toes during one of the stretches!)
And so we set off!! As we were reaching the outskirts of Seville, my workmate - who I will henceforth refer to as Harriet (because that's her name) - turned around and asked if I was doing okay. I proudly replied I was doing absolutely fine! I thought to myself, god, this is great. Cycling to work every morning. A bright start to the day. Get the body moving. Awaken your senses. Live a little!
As we reached the edge of town, the cycle lanes stopped. Shortly afterwards the pavement stopped and things began to go downhill. Well, to be more accurate, things began to go uphill. Just outside of Seville there is a HUGE bridge over a railway track! Its one of those funny things that the bridge does NOT look that big when you're in a bus....however I would like to confirm that this bridge is far, far bigger and steeper than could possibly ever be necessary. It started out okay but I was going slower and slower, and about halfway up I was moving so slowly that I didn't know if I was going backwards or forwards. People driving in the other direction contemplated me with great interest. Cars going in the same direction sped past without warning and scared me silly. It was a difficult time.
This was only about 1km of the journey done, and I'm pretty sure the rest of the way was also uphill (though I'm willing to admit that it probably wasn't and I was just lying to myself). As my knees went up and down on the bicycle peddles I decided to sing some songs to keep my spirits up. I couldn't think of any songs and ended up rhythmically chanting "Never again. Never again. Never again" as I peddled. It didn't do much to inspire me.
Eventually we reached La Rinconada. Harriet and I cycled side by side and I had to ask her what day it was. I was terribly surprised when she said it was still Wednesday as it felt like I'd been cycling for days (actual time was 50 minutes). She asked me how I felt and I told her I thought my bottom might have fallen off because I couldn't feel it anymore. She nodded with understanding.
The last leg of the journey, from La Rinconada to the park, was more pleasant. By the time we arrived I'd recovered a bit and felt quite perky - in fact I felt positively energised. I felt so cheerful I even employed some comic walks as I was traversing the classroom. My colleagues were appalled at what we'd done, and sat us down and made us coffee and toast so we could recover. "You are heroes," said one of them. I said that Harriet was a hero but I thought I was going to die, and he nodded gravely. To be honest I hoped that I looked as rosy cheeked and wonderful as Harriet did, but when we were heading back home my colleague looked at me with concern and said "Are you cycling in tomorrow as well?". When I said I might be he frowned. "I'm driving," he said. "You can text me! I can pick you up! Don't worry!" It an offer I am feeling inclined to accept...
That's all for now folks!