One Man and His Bike


Why do certain men have this urge to take up precious and valuable time with pointlessness? As I have mentioned to P several times of late I consider hobbies a luxury that I don’t expect to have time for until I’m at least 65. There will be plenty of time for leisure activities when we’re retired and the kids have left home. I’ll join a choir, grow potatoes, make wonky pottery mugs with the best of them, but for now, there are bums to be washed, sandwiches to be made, washing up to be done, tax returns, greasy fingers to wipe, sweetcorn to be swept from the floor etc etc. The list goes on…. By the way these domestic chores are not my idea of a pastime, if there are any men reading this I would like to point out that we women have not invented the concept of laundry, it is just there spoiling our fun too.

As far as having hobbies goes, P doesn’t agree. He has a new one to add to his list.

He is building himself the ultimate fan-daby-dozy racing bike. Apparently it has a rare Japanese frame that someone once won the ‘Tour de France’ using in about 1980….I have definitely got these facts wrong, but I am not a geek so I don’t care.

It is not enough for P that he already has a racing bike in the garden, plus a folding bike, a mountain bike, a city bike and a bakfiets (container bike).  This might sound like an affluent collection of transport but showing them off would make a laughable episode of ‘cribs’. They are an assortment of rust and various states of disrepair, so they make up a scene fairly typical in a dutch family’s front garden. And handy for visitors of course.

His new hobby is like the super-duper optimum hobby since it combines other hobbies into one streamlined obsession. One is racing of course, another is spending an inordinate amount of time searching marktplaats (the dutch ebay) for parts, another is general tinkering and the final hobby is photography. Flicking through his camera recently wanting to see his snaps of the kids I found one picture of the chain rings laid out next to the crank set (yes I now know what it’s called) and several shots of the frame without wheels taken from different angles. It’s reminds me of a lover who can’t stop snapping pictures of their sweetheart.

Whether it will ever satisfy him I have no idea, I’m sure that once the bike is finished, he’ll use it of course but the thrill of the challenge will fade and be replaced by the next obsession. No doubt, the flush of new love will lose some of it’s luster, those photos won’t be saved but discarded as the next project begins. I know from experience that there will be a next project.

Meanwhile the laundry. Today I was upstairs with little S just after his nap. We’ve just been on holiday and the suitcases are lying around the hallway not being dealt with so I thought I better get on with it. There are also huge piles of unsorted clothes all wedged in the doorway of our bedroom so I start chucking them vaguely in the direction of the laundry basket. S keeps pointing up to the attic and saying “dada”.

“No dada’s not up there” I say

“Dada” he says again and starts trying to climb the stairs.

“OK I’ll show you” I say and pick him up under the arms and go up.

When I get up there I find the racing bike suspended from the middle of the ceiling, like a sacred centrepiece. The metal parts are gleaming silver and there are several scary looking cleaning products and blackened toothbrushes on the floor.

Apart from that the attic is clear, it has exposed bare wooden walls and no floorboards. P has been up there a fair bit recently. ‘Renovating’. Basically for the last year we’ve been trying to get around to getting it finished and habitable so that it can be our new bedroom.

I go back down the stairs and continue sorting through the heaps of clothing but S keeps on pointing and I have to show him the bike several more times before he’s satisfied.

This evening after dinner I see P is outside talking to the neighbour over the fence. Initially he’s thanking him for watering the plants while we were away and politely listening to him talk about his new job. The conversation quickly moves along and his pet subject comes up, his bike. The neighbour turns out to be a racebike enthusiast as well. P is showing him pictures on his phone. They’re out there a long time and P comes in clutching some brake cables that the neighbour had left over in his shed.

“That’s the chattiest he’s ever been” he says smiling.


5 Comments on “One Man and His Bike”

  1. Nana says:

    Brilliant Ellen, happy to read your thoughts, I SO do agree! Thanks (my) P I got linked here before he run to check waves on the lake.

    Have been wondering for years now from where comes this idea that all these boring domestic chores are like an option or a choice between other pastimes…like we could choose to wipe or not a caca from the floor. Or not to care and ignore the dirty floor and take “personal time” etc.

    Waked up this morning (just like every other morning) to nourrish kids and cats, to wash dishes and make laundry while he was just hurrying to go to surf…hmph…which one is filling a need? ;D
    Keep up your run with the windmills!


    • Ellen says:

      Thanks Nana,
      Lovely to hear from you and I just checked out your nice flowers and drawings on your blog too. Unfortunately can’t really understand much of the text tho!
      I have also been wondering for years if there’s anything we can do about getting the menfolk to help out with the domestic crap, but the P family are unbelievably stubborn. Maybe tomorrow I will start thinking of a new hobby for myself, perhaps one that involves ordering a lot of new equipment, like a pottery wheel and a kiln. I might get P to build a shed so that I can disappear into it. We have to do it ourself.
      All the best

  2. Delia Rose says:

    maybe your new hobby could be ”selecting” tunes Ellen?
    Great piece of writing, too true! That’s so funny that for S daddy has become a strung up racing frame.
    Although the other extreme, a partner who has none of his own interests would be utterly boring. Suppose a middle ground would be perfect, but I for one have given up on hoping for perfection…
    Hope you managed to sleep past 5am this morning, and thanks for being a great fan last night.
    sweet dreams

  3. Rebecca says:

    My hubby loves his bike too. Hope he doesn’t get into building one it sounds a bit time consuming!
    Anyway be careful blogs need even more building than bikes, in a couple of months your man might be cursing your blog in the same way you curse his bike!

  4. You’re right Rebecca – that might just even things up a bit!

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