Not many of my anecdotes embarrass my children, especially if I’m talking about cycling. My kids seem to view me as a harmelss old chap who enjoys fiddling around with bikes, which keeps me out of trouble. But this story is about the cycle of life, which might make them think again. Sorry kids.
You see, it begins so innocently. There I am, sitting in bed sipping my cocoa, quietly doing the crossword. Next to me Mrs R is reading the newspaper – The Grauniad, it so happens. Suddenly she does something that has me spluttering and almost spilling my drink.
“It says here,” she says, reading from the paper, “that researchers in the US have shown that older men who enjoy frequent *cycling raise their chances of developing heart problems.”
She waits for me to stop choking before she continues reading: “Men in their late 50s to mid-80s who indulged in *cycling activity once a week or more had twice the risk of heart attack, stroke or other cardiovascular conditions over the next five years, compared with men who went without, the researchers found. To make matters worse, the men who enjoyed *cycling the most were more likely to suffer heart conditions than those who were not so bothered.” And that’s it. She doesn’t say another thing, but turns the page and continues reading while I try to recover from the shock of, implicitly, being lumped in the dubious category of “older” men. Instantly I forget the crossword. This snippet of information has left me wondering about the future of my … well, my cycling life.
The next morning, having recovered my senses somewhat, I dig out the newspaper article and I discover that, indeed, the researchers discovered just what Mrs R had told me. But there was more to it, and Mrs R had been a little economical with the facts. In fact, she had omitted to read out one important paragraph: “But the same was not seen for older women, who appeared to suffer no ill-effects from a robust *cycling life, and tended to have lower blood pressure when they found *cycling highly enjoyable.”
That afternoon, over a nice cup of tea, I raise the matter of this small omission with Mrs R.
“I was just thinking about you and your good health,” she tells me.
I respond by telling her that I’m quite happy to take the risk in the interests of her well-being.
She mutters into her teacup something that sounds very much like: “Yes, that’s just what I feared.”
Oh well, if the weather’s favourable, I hope to be back on the bike tomorrow. And yes, kids, I do still enjoy cycling, frequently or infrequently.