The fastest – and incidentally cheapest – way to travel is on two wheels. It was with this in mind that I decided to brave the rough roads of London and embark on that momentous expedition: my first cycle to work.
Previously I had only been able to gawp in envy at the fit elite – all honed arms, and sculpted thighs – as I trudged from the tube station, chocolate bar in hand. Now I would be one of the noble few. I could see myself wizzing past the commoners as they watched my bum disappear into a distant land of endless cool.
Being a cheapskate, I had acquired my little sister’s bike in exchange for paying our dad 40 quid to cover a window she broke (I’m not the only one in my family with the ‘oops!’ gene.) However, my sister had originally bought the bike when she was 14 years old and into pink. Florescent pink.
In spite of this rather embarrassing inconvenience, I was undeterred. Armed with my little-girls bike and an oversized helmet my local bike dealer had duped me into buying, I set off into the unknown. I was certainly prepared. I had packed some spare underwear to ride home in, just in case I sweated more than usual. Knowing that this was a distinct possibility (due to the fact I hadn’t exercised in about a year) I had packed the oldest, grimiest, most granny-like pants and bra I owned. What a pro.
Things were going well. The sun shone as I headed towards Paddington, a vision of enviable cool. As I turned the corner into Spring Street, a rather attractive bearded gentleman shot me a grin. ‘Amazing.’ I thought to myself ‘Even dressed up like a demented 12 year old, I’ve still got it.’
It took me about six seconds and a hundred yards to realise what was really going on: My backpack had come unzipped. My tights were wrapped around my back wheel.
My underwear was strewn back down the middle of the road.
Let me level with you. Spring Street is littered with cafes and restaurants – basically involving quite a lot of people sitting outside, people watching. Right now they were watching me. Me, and my skanky underwear.
In a mad panic I threw my bike to the ground and ran back down the street, my oversized helmet bobbing from side to side as I picked up my abandoned items. With every ounce of dignity I had left (er… not much, for those of you who were wondering) I jumped back on my bike and rode away.
It’s been three long and difficult years since ‘the incident’. After therapy, prayer and a lot of strong liquor, I finally feel that I’m ready to move on. So, at the end of this month I’m going to face my fear: buy a bike and re-try the cycle to work.
I’ll be packing good underwear.