Thursday, 9 June 2011

Fat Bottomed Girl gets back in the saddle

Lately I have found myself clad in unusual, snug-fitting clothing, sweating profusely and grinning like a loon. The more faint-hearted of our readers should be reassured - we have not been exploring the extramarital expat scene, as trailed in an earlier post. Rather, as Queen so aptly put, I Want To Ride My Bicycle...

This all entirely Greg's fault. Those of you who know us well will know that Greg is a serious cycling aficionado of several years' standing. Such is his passion, that when we received our shipment from the UK, the very first things off the lorry were the bikes. Before I had unpacked enough mugs to make a cup of tea for the delivery men, all four had been anxiously unwrapped and checked over like so many equines emerging from a long journey in a horse box. The most thoroughbred of our livery is now quartered in the dining room. Needless to say, it's not mine. My trusty steed, a cast-off of Greg's adapted for my smaller build, is more of an outdoor beast, quite happy to be tethered to the hitching post behind our apartment building and to share a tarp with its stable mates.

In the UK I had been an occasional cyclist of only limited enthusiasm, more Fat Bottomed Girl than aspiring pro-peletonnette. Inspired by the beautiful scenery, and enticed by promises of a nice flat ride around the lakeshore, I was persuaded to get back on my bike for the first time on a sunny Sunday at the beginning of April.

Flat ride my foot. Within 10 minutes of leaving the house I was angrily struggling up a steep hill out of the city, which seemed to go an interminably long time, amid assurances from the front that it wasn't much further. The descent from the top, on quiet roads with views of pretty villages backed by the lake and mountains went some way to mollify me.

I was exhausted by the time we stopped for lunch with a view of the alps, and then we crossed over the lake on the ferry for a longish, but mercifully flat, slog home. Unfortunately, we live halfway up the Züriberg, so another uphill struggle right at the end of the ride was unavoidable. Grumpy once again, I vowed never to do it again.

However, once I'd got over my sunburn and saddle stiffness, we did do the lake trip a couple more times. When Greg suggested a new route over the top of the Züriberg, I hesitantly agreed. "Grounds for divorce," became my mantra as Greg led me up ever steeper roads, I fell off my (stationary) bike in exhaustion, and resorted to walking up impossible hills and gravel tracks.  Let us draw a veil over the remainder of that ride, and move on.

So the lake ride became our standard route. We tried it both ways round, with and without the original hilly bits, and once, inadvertently and unhappily, with an additional hilly bit. Strangely I found the flatness of the main coast road a bit boring, and my heart yearned for hilltop villages and swooping descents. I still didn't want to climb to reach them, but I could see it was a necessary evil, and a change began to creep over me.

Fast forward to last night. When Greg got home from work for our evening ride, I was already lycra-ed up, with a sports drink at the ready and my bike shoes and helmet in my hands. This despite the weather being a drizzly 15C. We did the lake ride in intermittent rain with strong cross-winds. The first big hill seemed fairly easy, and I took heart. Instead of spending the second half of the ride dreading the final hill, I was rather looking forward to it. My enthusiasm waned a bit as the rain come on stronger, and then we hit some major roadworks. We had to weave in and out of the traffic, on slippery wet roads, in the gathering gloom. I was climbing, I was soaking, I was tired, and I was trapped between the steely death of a 4x4 and the equally steely death of getting a wheel stuck in a tram-track. And I was smiling.

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