When I first got my shiny new road bike, I posted a picture of it with the caption ‘ Say hello to my new adventure machine’. Because that’s what it is.
A bike is a means to freedom and fitness. A cheap form of transport; a means to get a job; an environmentally aware decision.
A bike means rides out to the coast for fish and chips and ice cream. Rides through muddy puddles and ‘Would you look at the state of you!’
A bike is sunny days messing about with friends. Discovering tea shops and garden centres and where you can get really good home-made cake and a refill for your bottles or Camelbacks.
A bike is finally making it to the top of that hill without stopping and free-wheeling down the other side. Or taking a moment to admire the view, when all you can see is mist.
A bike is praying that your skin really is waterproof and that your toes won’t fall off. Or hoping that those weird looking tan lines will eventually join up.
It’s bruises, scrapes and chafing and a permanent chain tattoo on your calf. It’s saddle sores and Sudocrem and realising just how many layers you have to take off to go for a pee.
It’s exploring the countryside or speeding through a city. It’s about finding places you never knew existed. Rediscovering the intimate knowledge you had as a child of your local area with all its secret pathways and shortcuts.
It’s tech talk of carbon, cassettes and chain rings and ‘mine’s better than yours’. It’s le Grand Depart, le maillot jaune et, chapeau to you! It’s about being King of the Road or Queen of the Mountains, imagining you’re on the Champs Elysees or the Queen K Highway.
Chrissie Wellington, four times Ironman World Champion has had her bike stolen. The one she won her 2011 championship on. The one she calls Phoenix, because they rose together.
I’m sure Chrissie could have any bike she wanted – faster, lighter, more expensive, higher spec. But if your bike isn’t there any more, it’s not just a piece of metal that’s gone. There’s a bike shaped hole in your heart. Because a bike’s not just a bike is it? And Chrissie’s not just a World Champion. She’s a girl who wants her bike back.
I really hope you find it Chrissie.