Over the years I have come to realise that I live with a genuine bicycle enthusiast. When I first met him he had a strange half sized trick bike that the bicycle enthusiasts will refer to as a BMX. It stood in the corner of his bedroom in the student house, and looked like it needed some tlc and a medium sized child to ride it. Apparently though, this bike was meant for adults and that rust along the tubes was the deliberate style. I named it ‘The clown bike’ and eventually it disappeared and was replaced by a grown-up racer. This took up more space, but at the time it didn’t matter because I didn’t live there.
Then we moved in together. And over the years, it has blossomed into a nest for bicycles. There is no point trying to hide the truth. There is a bike in every room of this flat. The car is a portable bike repair shed. The top of the wardrobe is a bike helmet storage shelf. As anyone who has ever lived with a bicycle enthusiast will know, once you let the bikes in, they infiltrate every part of your life.
Here is some useful advice for anyone else who finds themselves sharing a dwelling with a bicycle enthusiast:
1. Don’t try to suppress the urges of the bicycle enthusiast. They are notoriously enthusiastic about their bicycles (hence the name). You won’t make a runner out of them however hard you try. For every running event you enter them in, they will sign up for three bike ones. It’s like the multi-headed monster in Hercules- better to throw the sword down and run.
2. Give up on trying to keep your carpets clean and try instead to cover them with rugs. That rental accommodation beige carpet can stay relatively mark-free underneath your oiled rugs.
3. Don’t be alarmed by the spare tyres draping over the hot water tank in your airing cupboard. Or any cupboard for that matter. Where there is cupboard space, tyres will arrive. And that wheel in the living room really adds something to the decor doesn’t it? It does. It really does.
4. Learn to embrace the tyre marks and oil stripes on walls, clothing, and every other available surface. Think of it as a pattern and pretend you wanted that white top to be a bit blacker.
5. Collect whimsical bike themed posters to protect your walls (or your landlord’s walls (or your deposit)) from where handle bars scuff the wall they lean against.
6. Fully expect to have to move a bike before you can open the drawers in your bedroom. It’s totally normal and part of the routine.
7. Fully expect to have to climb over a bike or two to be able to pull down the blind, reach the bin or open the kitchen window. It adds to the experience.
8. Remember to not go for an upstairs flat with no outside space or shed or garage next time.
9. And then, most importantly, if you can’t beat them, join them (and then remember how much your ladybits hurt after a few hours cycling and go back to your running shoes).