I am in love with a Frenchman. The Frenchman is in love with his bike. The bike and I have a love-hate relationship. It's an interesting love triangle that occasionally causes a few minor potholes on the otherwise smooth cycle route to 'happily-ever-after'.
He's always been a cycle addict, first VTT and now a roadie (given it can be slightly hard to find decent mountains in Paris), but over the last two and a half years I have seen a serious hobby develop into full blown passion. He lives for his bike a bit like I live for shoes. Amazingly, even with a penchant for Choos, my passion ends up being cheaper (no, really).
And now, on 17 July, the Frenchman is competing in a stage of the Tour de France in his home region of Auvergne, from Issoire to Saint-Flour. For the uninitiated, that's 208kms, 5 bloody big mountain passes and one rather exhausted frog at the finish line.
Obviously this means a bit of preparation is required. This also means that passion has transformed into an addiction and I now have to organise my life around a bike.
Over the last few months, the weeks and weekends have disappeared into a flurry of training sessions and competitions. I don't remember the last weekend he wasn’t racing, or the last morning he had a lie in. He now finishes work early, trains, works late into the evening and gets up early again in the morning. The lazy frog that would once sleep in until midday has gone - it's quite inspiring, if not mildly scary.
Now don't get me wrong. I love that he has such passion, that there's something that makes him so happy (ahem, APART from me), it's good for him - and, if you saw him on a bike, it's hard not to be impressed.
And I'm nothing but supportive (most of the time).
In the spirit of "if you can't beat them, join them" I bought myself a bike and I now get up at some ungodly hour every other morning to join him training (although I do a measly 3 laps of the cycle track and I whinge about it the whole way there).
I've given up holidays to take him to races, twiddled my thumbs by myself for hours in order to cheer him on once every 10km loop, been there to congratulate him when he places (and console him when he doesn't), put up with the grumps when he's just missed out on a medal and learnt to talk about crank sets, cleats, and carbon like I had the foggiest clue (read: interest).
Without really realising I've turned into head cheerleader, nutritionist, masseuse (when asked very nicely), psychiatrist, coach and yes, cycling widow. Or maybe mistress is more appropriate. The wife is the bike, the one he will never ever leave, no matter how much lingerie you buy!
In fact I'm lucky - he could be MUCH worse. He could do this for a living - although something tells me he would prefer this (!). I know that sometimes he makes a conscious decision not to get on the bike and instead spend his precious free time with me. However, I've also listened to him complain about how much better X or Y is, as they don't have any distractions (read: demanding job, demanding girlfriend, i.e. A LIFE) and therefore have more time to train . Sometimes I realise I'm the only thing stopping him turning into a man obsessed - although I don't know whether he thinks that's a good thing or a bad thing ;-)
So, in 39 days time, the dearest Frenchman will attempt the hardest challenge of his cycling life so far. Something tells me this might be a long 39 days for me too (it's almost like Lent, but without the chocolate eggs at the end) - and instead of taking my frustrations out on him when I can't stand to hear the word "bike" any more, I thought I'd start writing it down - my own little journey to the arrivée at Saint Flour.
Because after 17 July we can stop talking about bikes, right?
Ha ha, one can always dream…….
p.s - The Frenchman is also raising money for leukaemia research through his race, a cause very dear to his heart - so if you read this, please sponsor him at http://laurettefugain.alvarum.net/teamrondy2011. Every little helps.
It also means I can add 'Head fundraiser' to my job description. Or maybe I'll just put "Saint" ;-)