cycling in breeches
I blame the Gray Epee ... and the brown, high-heeled shoes.
"Why not cycle?" the Gray Epee asked, using his occasional alias of "Jim". He thought I could cycle with the chef. I wasn't sure I could cycle with the sword and I knew the chef wasn't fencing. She was taking a rest from her career as cook and swashbuckler and giving an academic paper. (It was a triumph, I later learned.)
I thought of all the excuses. There were plenty of reasons not to fence. I've never quite got the knack of cycling with a sword-bag and my front light was broken. That happened when I cycled too fast over a speed hump - and there are three in the driveway to the leisure centre.
My son took the Gray Epee's side. Of course I should cycle. I didn't have to go on a road, just a well-lit cycle track. It would be quick. I would like it.
I disagreed, though I wasn't wure how to get there. My heel was aching after rather too much walking in my best, brown, high-heeled shoes. I didn't think I could walk. (I wasn't sure I could fence.) I breathed in so that I could button and zip my breeches. It was a struggle.
And then I realised that, while I hadn't planned to cycle in breeches, they would at least be bright white on the journey home. And cycling might help in the struggle for fitness.
It's hard to get on a bike with a crossbar while carrying a sword-bag. I attempted to fling my leg over the cross-bar and hoped no-one was watching. Then I tried to balance the bag. The sword-tips wedged themselves precariously in my bicycle bag. I had to be careful. The bag isn't really meant for epees. I bought it when I bought my first foil since I thought I shouldn't carry a naked blade on the tube, in the Royal Academy or on a peace demo. Now I use the bag for two epees as well, it doesn't shut.
The cat came out to watch and offered to come with me. My son took him back into the house. Then I set out ... and the Gray Epee was right. Cycling is the way to get to fencing, especially on a Spring evening. (Spring had arrived shortly after lunch.)
Fencing with aching feet, plantar fasciitis and a still-swollen leg seemed slightly unwise. I joined in footwork practice, but the most I could manage was a shuffle. I couldn't manage more than the suggestion of a lunge and was glad no-one suggested a fleche or ballestra. Then I finished kitting up and faced my fellow epeeists.
There were only four of us fencing epee: me, the dancer, the doc and the youngster. I did not fence well. I feel almost as clumsy and slow as when I started fencing, but I kept going and managed a few hits. They may have been given away. I noticed that the dancer bounced as though his fight was choreographed by Bournonville. His bladework and footwork was elegant and fancy, which let me see the hits coming. Every so often I hit him. I mentioned this afterwards, because I was hitting him more than I should. Later it occurred to me that he may have been giving me a chance but, if so, he was polite enough not to say so. He's very good to fence.
I managed one good hit against the dancer. I slipped my blade below his guard, clipping it as I hit his wrist. He said "good hit" and I wanted to say, "Yes, it was, wasn't it?" It's one of the best hits I've ever managed and it will be a long time before I forget it - or manage another hit as good.
For the first time this year, we got hot fencing and opened the double doors to the car park. Then we got chilly and put our hoodies on.
For a lot of the time, my main aim was to keep my sword-arm up and keep fencing. I practised against the doc and the dancer twice and the youngster once. I kept going and was better than last week, which isn't a great deal. By the end, I was exhausted. And then I cycled home.
I think my opponents tried to avoid hitting my leg. My right arm is more bruised than it has been for a long time. I must sort out a co-ordinating blue and purple T-shirt.