"You must really love me, if you're actually letting me ride this bicycle!"
Ten miles in, this was said with the slyest of grins - letting me know that the undercurrent of nervousness in my earlier "of course you can borrow my Mercian, darling" had been less subtle than I thought.
"As you should be. Be a shame if I ruined that beautiful pearly paint..."
"I am worried about you breaking your neck, not scratching my paint, you idiot!"
Twenty miles and some wink-heavy banter later, with my beloved's limbs and my bicycle's paint both blessedly intact, I was finally feeling more relaxed. Among his other charms, this man was apparently a born fixie rider and I needn't have worried.
"And isn't it nice to see what your bike looks like in motion?"
Indeed it was. But seeing my Mercian ridden by someone other than myself made me realise how seldom I've lent my roadbikes to others. Mind you, this is not for lack of trying. It's just that until recently, few cyclists I knew rode the same frame size as me, or set their bikes up in a similar way. More often than not, whenever I'd try to swap roadbikes with friends in the past, hilarity would ensue. Even with riders similar to me in height and build, our preferences in setup and fit were too different to make things work. Funny enough, I now have several friends who, while quite a bit taller than me, ride the same frame size with a similar set up in all ways other than the saddle position. Loaning out a Honey cyclocross bike to a friend for a 300K brevet was a piece of cake. And in the case of the Mercian, all it took was raising the saddle a couple of yards and shoving it back a mile or two, and it was declared "perfect."
And, perhaps more importantly, so was the fixed gear experience itself. In fact, I daresay the man now wants one of his own! Just goes to show that sharing the velo love can pay off.
What is your policy when it comes to sharing your bicycles with friends, loved ones, strangers? Are you squeamish about others spinning your pedals? Do you worry about safety issues? Or, are you the neighbourhood bicycle "pusher," hoping a helpful loaner bike will prove habit-forming?