Cycling Stories

Middle-Aged Man in Lycra (MAMIL)

June 9, 2020

Middle-Aged Man in Lycra (MAMIL)

As the light rays 
reflected from a frame 
of aluminium painted in a hue of greys  
My memory ignited like a flame  

The flame covered my vision  
As my eyes opened for the first time 
I didn’t know what the world was, but it’d have been treason 
If I hadn’t stared more at the three-wheeled wonder that never stopped to chime 

My first love had a saddle 
and a handle that was sleek 
It was more beautiful than all twaddle  
that all adults did week after week 

As I grew, I wanted to know its history  
Who invented this marvel? 
When I finally did put a rest to the mystery  
Into the jaws of time I did manage to travel 

Baron Drais’s draisine or dandy horse 
was the earliest known bicycle  
A beauty whose origins made me pause 
In infinitesimal awe of the chronicle  

When men used horses to go about 
‘In the year without a summer’ when many were killed 
His mind was the factory for an invention, a standout  
So much that business boomed and people were thrilled  

Today’s world, acquainted with the Wright brothers and their fame 
But one would be astounded to know of 
the brothers, Oliver and Oliver  
Along with the Mischaux company and its name  
For the mass manufacturer was the first to deliver  

It has had probably more names than the legs of a centipede 
More than any we’d find in any dictionary  
From Laufmaschine to velocipede  
And penny-farthing and boneshaker to ordinary  

With so much known of the past 
I felt contentment flowing in every vein 
As I climbed onto it as if it were a ship’s mast 
The routine of pedaling was forever imprinted in my brain 

Every morning I would roam 
In the parks and feel the cool breeze 
Gently flirting with me till gloam  
Yet I couldn’t let it seize 

The moments between us  
My Bicycle, Bucephalus and me 
And my love for cycling, pious 
As we swayed from tree to tree 

It’d feel as though time had taken a nap  
I would do random wheelies and an occasional endo or rather, a stoppie  
Sometimes falling over but I kept going lap after lap 
All seemed peaceful until bullies made me weepy 

They kicked at me with a football and I fell 
They broke the bicycle that was most dear 
Pain crept like fire and my eyes would swell 
So much that it took a while to overcome the fear  

My first love was torn  
Into pieces that couldn’t be joined again 
None could replace it, for with it were my memories born 
Only an image remained now, and the object slain 

My parents did all they could 
An exact replica as well failed to help me heal 
Time was the ultimate doctor that would 
make me realise the love for cycling I had that no bully could steal  

And as I turned from boy to man 
Less fun-seeker and more baroudeur  
My ears heard of Tour de France and there was no bigger fan 
than me, waking up before the Sun to catch all the grandeur  

I used to worship Henri Descrange, 
The brain behind the event 
Which would for an eternity change  
my goals, in search of which I went  

I wanted to be an all-rounder 
Whether flat or rough, whichever terrain 
I wished to ride like a glider 
Smooth and easy to the eye, against wind and in rain 

Improving the cadence 
I no longer remained a brick 
I was now a grimpuer in every essence  
And had mastered the immortal trick  

On spring mornings, I’d witness an echelon 
For cycling had become a sport 
Men and women, many would take part in the Athlon  
Most would simply hit the wall, tired and would abort  

The flame rouge would no more hide 
the fast finisher who had stayed silent 
for most of the race but now he’d slide 
ahead of all and win, as vultures gaped from the pavement  

Such was cycling a wonder 
A treat for the mind and health  
“How can anyone dislike it,” I would ponder 
So much that it meant more than any wealth  

Many celebrate the World Bicycle Day on 3rd June 
It’d be a visual treat to see vehicles less  
and cycles more, I wish it’d happen soon 
For pollution surely is bound to leave us in a mess 

A day which could be begun on two wheels  
and paddles without any smoke 
Even the birds would pay a visit to the genteels 
Who shall ditch the machine and believe in their legs and its stroke  

Every breath we’d inhale would be more pure 
And every minute we’d live filled with vigor  
It’d possibly be the most efficient cure 
For laziness and energy that’s everywhere meagre 

As a middle-aged man in Lycra  
Who has never lost his first love 
Regardless of the tired knee and it’s fulcra 
The track and the wheels fuel the calves till I enter death’s alcove 

Shubhankar is a doctor in search of literary salvation, a poet in watch of artistic ambition, and an artist with an outreach for exemplary exhibition.

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