A sabbatical

On Friday I had one of those wonderful days on the road. Bike, legs, weather and traffic all in perfect harmony. Nice steady work, going to every corner of town, and a few of my favourite routes, and plenty of excuses for sprinting along the Embankment, and admiring the view from Waterloo Bridge (it’s the best bridge in town). A couple of half-hour slots spent hanging out with lovely people at Fullcity and on Creative Corner. Lots of nice food – and also a couple of moments of absolute paralysing dizzying hunger, which I usually just welcome as an opportunity to eat yet more nice food.

By 5.30 I was sore, sweaty, sunburnt, and so tired I could barely speak – but still grinning with delight.

And now I have to take a month off.

An offer came up that I really couldn’t refuse. Not that I didn’t assume for the first few days that I would refuse it. After all, I’m addicted to being a courier. There’s no way I could give it up for a whole month. But then various friends talked sense into me. It’s only a month, after all, and that isn’t so much time in the grand scheme of things, and the money I’ll earn will probably support me for 3-6 months in the future. For the first time in three years, I’m planning ahead.

So here I am. Sitting at the computer, as I usually do on a Sunday. Except that, on any other Sunday, I’d be looking forward to getting back on the road the following morning. Now all I have to look forward to is another five days of this, and then a single day off, in which I’ll probably cycle myself into a stupor, to make up for missing out all week.

It’s a beautiful day outside. The sun is shining, the wind is blowing, and the air is sparkling.

What am I going to do?

Well, I’m going to stop feeling sorry for myself, for a start. I quickly realized, when whinging to other couriers about my ill fortune, that I wasn’t going to get much sympathy for having to take a month off the road because someone had offered me lots and lots of money.

And I’m going to try and see this enforced lack of couriering as an opportunity. Maybe my poor neglected road bike will finally get a bit of action. And maybe I’ll be able to test out my theory that the reason city boys on carbon bikes keep overtaking me is that they have a better balance of exertion to rest – i.e. they spend all day sitting still and recovering, and do their exercise in concentrated bursts in the evenings and at weekends, whereas mine is spread out inefficiently over 50 hours, and I rarely get a chance to rest completely, and I’m constantly stopping and starting.

Also, inspired by this woman’s blog*, I’m going to start trying out new things. I’ve long wanted to get into climbing, yoga, track cycling, boxing, trampolining, modern dance, mountain biking, snowboarding, and even (I reluctantly admit) running, but for the last three years I haven’t had any spare energy.

But now I have. And, what’s more, my fitness and coordination have never been better (bear in mind I was the fat kid who used to skive off PE). I spent an afternoon mountain biking back in January, and was pleasantly surprised by how quickly I took to it. I’m not used to being good at sports, especially not the first time I try them.

So this could actually be lots of fun. Give me a shout if you want to introduce me to some new and novel form of energy burning.

But still…

This will be the longest break I’ve had since I started. It’s so long that I’m beginning to question whether I’ll still qualify as a courier by the end of it. Oh dear – am I about to have an identity crisis, on top of everything else? And I’m slightly worried that this is a sign that I’m beginning to roll down the slippery slope that began when I went part time. It’s ironic really. I know several people who’ve been trying for years to escape from the courier trap, trying to scrape together enough other work that they can go down to three days a week, and then two, and then one… For me it seems to be happening without my even trying. But I don’t want it to! I love this job. I’m nowhere near ready to give up. I still want to do it forever.

And I’m slightly worried about the effect this break will have on my blog. Not only will I miss out on all the little day-to-day anecdotes and observations – I’m also going to be trying to produce 4,000 words per day for someone else, so I’m unlikely to have much inclination to sit down and write another 500 for my own amusement.

So, we’ll see.

But I have no doubt that I’ll be back. Worry not.


*I’ve been meaning to email her and challenge her to a day on the courier circuit, but can’t work out how to get in touch via the blog. So I’m going for the cop-out option, and letting link-backs do their work. 🙂


8 Responses to “A sabbatical”

  1. Ex Messenger of Doom Says:

    I think you could be a good track cyclist – you look like the muscly track type.

    • thatmessengerchick Says:

      You flatter me sir. 😀

      • Steff Says:

        FWIW, I agree. Definite signs of genetic sprinting aptitude. You’re right about the City boys, BTW. Those of us that get five or six miles a day of commute and spend the rest of our time eating kebabs at our desks have to treat riding to work as a series of sprints to maintain any fitness at all. Not that I’m a City boy (or have a carbon bike) but the desk is similar.

  2. Rob Creighton Garrison Says:

    Best of luck with the new venture!

  3. Alex Says:

    Unrelated but I was in Brighton for Great Escape and I saw your bikes (Joe Waugh and Salsa) just next to the “audio” venue. I had a great time at the festival, hope you did too, though some of the bike locking down their made my head ache.

  4. MeganO Says:

    As much as it saddens me to know I may not be reading about your adventures around town for a whole month I think a sabbatical can but mean you come back with more vigour and more energy which will equal all the more tales to tell. So over all everyone’s a winner! You because you give your muscles a well earned break and earn buckets of cash; us because we’ll get to reap the rewards of your new fresh take on the city and the world on the bike upon your return. Can we please have an advent calendar or something like that? You know count down the days until you’re back on the road again?! Bit like a run up to Christmas?
    Oh and in terms of other activities to add to the list: surfing. You’ll be hooked in no time at all and is so much better for you than running! Step away from those running shoes.

  5. bassjunkieuk Says:

    Try and look at the month off as a well earned recovering period. Time off the bike to allow muscles to repair and become stronger is just as important as time on the bike 🙂 This is of course coming from someone who only has 2 speeds on a bike, stop and sprint. All those posh tossers on fancy expensive bikes make for fun targets on my 3 year old alu roadie 😀

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