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Steve Bartlett: The cycle of life

I want to ride my bicycle.
I want to ride my bicycle.

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 in 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 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.

OMG!

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, pedaled into our driveway, collapsed on the couch, and wondered if there were any Adirondack chairs on sale in this week’s flyers.

Steve Bartlett is an editor with SaltWire Network. He dives into the Deep End Mondays to escape reality and his serious need to exercise. Reach him at sbartlett@thetelegram.com.

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