So I have recently had the extremely surreal experience of doing some press for LLR in Cycling Active magazine. (I am Miss April! But on page 9, not the centrefold or page 3 - although a dog walker in the park did accuse us of shooting bike porn). This year is turning out to be a learning curve in all sorts of unexpected ways.
Now I can stand and talk in front of a lecture hall of strangers or argue my rights with a client and complete with ease any other myriad tasks that require being assertive but I have never felt that confident about my body image. I think a selfie is an act of flagelation. The most recent photo I sat willing for was for my MA graduation photo about 5 years ago but only because I was having a good hair day, got to wear a mortar board and had a voluminous black cape. Let's face it with bike wear there is nowhere to hide, it is very, umm ... shall we say clingy? And that is being kind. Now on some forms I certainly appreciate that but with me, not so much. So it was with trepidation that I opened the issue and there was, horror of horrors, two photos! One I quite liked, well it was ok, looked like me so what could I say? The other however, clearly selected by a man, quite obviously displayed my love of beer, biscuits and cake. I was a bit upset.
This is not you might say an unnatural reaction to a nationally published image of yourself that you feel is unflattering but after a day of two of the sullens I had a moment of revelation and that is that I am in fact bloody lucky so gave myself a bit of a mental slapping.
One of my best friends MS causes her body to betray her in unpredictable ways at inconvenient times, my Dad's cancer has tried to destroy his, I have another friend with early arthritis that makes even shortish walks a struggle and I am worried about a spare tyre!?! I think I lost sight there of why I am doing this. Apart from the usual sniffles, gripes, aches and pains that come with getting older (oh and the patella brace that my physio described as a bra for my knee) I can ask my body to cycle to Paris. That is a truly marvellous thing that I should not take for granted. My vanity is saying if I do lose a couple of pounds and can finally get back into some of my vintage clothes then that is a bonus but if not my brain for the first time in forever is saying I should enjoy what I have and embrace the wobbly bits like I did all the biscuits. After all no one put a gun to my head and made me eat them. It was a choice and choice is something that can so easily be taken from you. So I choose to cycle and I choose to be grateful for the opportunity.