When true love is broken by an innocent bike ride in the country

Now I know dear readers that you will automatically assume that I am talking about sex. But I’m actually talking about the innocent act of riding a bike. And before any smart arses ask what bike riding has got to do with a dating column, let me fill you in. Pun intended.

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I’d been loosely seeing a lovely man from Chichester, the odd date here and there, the occasional stroll along the harbour, the rare fornication or three. Now you may have noticed that I’m referring to him in the past tense. Just for why will become clear by the end of this column.

Just before Easter, this said man invited me on a mini break to West Wittering in West Sussex. To quote Bridget Jones, “a mini break, it must be true love!” I was so excited, I’d never been whisked away on a mini-break before. I was getting butterflies inside, certain that this was the man for me.

And for those of you who know West Wittering and the surrounding areas, will know what a beautiful part of our country it is. My absolute favourite place in the whole wide world!

I made the suggestion that we go for a bike ride on our first day. I could think of nothing more exciting or romantic than riding along together, through country lanes and down sand dunes, with the wind rushing through our hair, staring into each other’s eyes over the handlebars.

Now the only issue I had was my car. For those close to me will know that my car is the size of a smart car, so there was no way my bike was fitting in that. But my dear Father came up with the solution. I could borrow his fold-up bike. I said yes, but that was before I’d clapped eyes on it. What a god awful contraption. It has to be seen to be believed.

Day one and the sun was shining down on us in West Sussex. To quote a dear friend, the sun always shines on the righteous.

After Chichester man had contained his fit of the giggles at the sight of my Father’s fold-up bike, we set off for our ride like a scene from Gone with the Wind.

As the wind tickled my ever balding scalp, I turned to look back at my riding companion. And joy filled my heart along with the ripe sea air filling my lungs. God, I sound like I’m writing a sickening romantic novel this month.

We’d ridden about two miles when we arrived in Bracklesham Bay and I noticed a lady walking along with a pram. Chichester man had now overtaken me and was a few hundred yards ahead. He seemed to be much faster than me as you could hardly gather much speed on my Father’s archaic fold up contraption.

In the silence of the country lanes, I suddenly heard a loud snapping sound which echoed down the street. Even the lady with the pram heard it and we shared eye contact as the confusion on our face was mutual. As I fell backwards from the bike, it soon became clear that the snap was the saddle. And the next thing I knew, I was on my back in the gutter, legs akimbo with a saddle on top of me and a bike slumped in the kerb.

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I let out an almighty shriek as I went down like a sack of shit. The shriek could be heard on the Isle of Wight. And people gathered around me and all I could see were faces staring down at me. After the circle of faces realised nothing more than my pride was hurt, they dispersed and carried on about their business. I stood up, bike in one hand, saddle in the other.

Chichester man was nowhere to be seen. Had he not seen what had happened to me? Had he not realised I was no longer riding along behind him? Or had he felt too embarrassed to acknowledge he was with the saddle snapping gay boy? I would just like to take this opportunity to point out that the bike’s weight limit is 15 stone and I am only 12 stone, 11 pounds.

Realising my mini-break companion had done a Houdini on me, I decided to walk back and find the nearest pub. I needed a pint. As I strolled into the pub with the saddle in my hand, a man looked at me most peculiarly.

“That’s a funny looking bike!” he dared to remark. To which I snapped back,

“Don’t even talk to me about this fucking bike!” Poor man. I bet he wished he’d never commented.

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The moral of the story. Never ride a fold up bike. And never assume a mini-break means true love.

About the author: Mark Woollard

Mark David Woollard graduated from Brunel University, West London in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Creative Writing and Journalism. Since then, he has written for many publications as a freelance writer. He has been ‘The Undateable Gay’ for The Gay UK magazine since 2015 where he documents his unsuccessful dating life. He wrote an opinion column for the national Student Times, discussing LGBT issues.

He also writes educational pieces for ‘Massage World’ magazine, giving advice to Reflexologists about treating certain ailments. He authored a novella in 2013 entitled ‘The Fun and Frolics of FIFI a L’Orange’, the crazy adventures of a drag queen.

And is currently working on a series of LGBT books for children and a collection of flash fiction.

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