Times are hard.
Everyone knows that.
The world is in financial crisis and we all have to tighten our belts and take care with our money.
This, then, is a really bad time to be having a mid-life crisis.
No nifty little sports car for me, no jetting off on mad trips to Ibiza or Ayia Napa and definitely no twenty year old mistress with a penchant for champagne and spa hotels.
No – cash is too strapped for all that so I’m going to have to dodge old age on the cheap.
This mid-life crisis is going to have to come in on a budget.
Which is where the scrape on my elbow comes in, not to mention the looks of utter despair my wife keeps giving me.
It all started innocently enough – isn’t that always the case? We went for a bike ride. Last Sunday afternoon, the sun was out and we had nothing pressing to be getting on with so off we went.
It was lovely. The kids were on surprisingly good behaviour, cycling safely for a change instead of making us wince with every crazy twist and random turn they usually make. Jo had let me choose the destination and plan the route (a rare treat, I’m not usually trusted with decisions) and the weather was smashing. We went to a place called Paradise Wood on Google but Neptune Wood on the local signpost, which promised willow sculptures and walks in the woods. It was about a four-mile ride to the place, which was enough for little Jamie. Actually as a round trip and including the extra riding we did while we were there I worked out that Jamie’s stumpy little legs managed nine and a half miles on his 14-inch wheels and no gears.
We found the wood easily and the boys loved it. In yet another rare moment, Jo nodded approval at my choice. I was getting things right and I think that is what started making me feel a little giddy.
The walk in the woods turned out to be wheelchair friendly, which, roughly translated, means it was also cycle friendly. The walk turned into a ride through the woods on what the boys decided was a racetrack.
It was around about this point that I forgot I was 41.
The boys were still playing in the willow ‘boat’ and Jo was flapping around taking pictures. I was sent ahead to recce the route. Alone. On my bike. On a racetrack.
Not only did I decide I was considerably more talented at speeding around bends than I actually am, but then I came up with an idea, one I haven’t had for a very long time.
Actually I think it’s about 25 years since I tried doing a wheelie.
I don’t just mean a little hop style wheelie because no man on the planet can ride a cycle without doing at least one of those, no I mean a full on pedalling along for a while - wheelie.
That would be a buzz that I haven’t felt for a very long time.
I got some speed up; leant back pushed hard on the pedal and pulled up the handlebars in a whirl of excitement, wondering just how many metres I’d be able to keep it up for. This was going to be bloody impressive.
The wheel came up.
The wheel kept going up.
When the wheel went over my head I started to sense that things weren’t entirely going to plan.
On the scale of epic fails I’d say this was a 10. It was pretty messy.
At the sound of a bike smashing into a bush upside down and the yelp of a grown man with a fresh graze, Jo turned and came over to see what was going on.
To find me on the floor laughing my head off.
“I was trying to do a wheelie!” I managed to admit between gasps for air. Jo looked at me blankly for a couple of minutes, blinking only twice and then turned silently away. The sheer nostalgic pleasure of crashing your bike on a failed wheelie was completely lost on my wife. Maybe girls never do that when they are young. Boys do – all the time and I seriously have no idea how old I was the last time I wiped out on a failed bike stunt – 14, 15 maybe? What a rush!
So there you go. One failed wheelie maybe all I can afford right now but it might just be enough. No, sod it – I’m going to go out again this weekend and try riding non-handed. I haven’t tried that since I was 17. I used to be unbelievably good at it - in fact from the age of 13 up until I got a car, I don’t think I ever even touched my handlebars. Surely riding non-handed is just like…. riding a bike? I mean it will come back to me won’t it? Since I started riding a cycle again a few years ago it hasn’t actually occurred to me to let go of the grips but maybe now its time to release my inner teenager.
What could possibly go wrong?