The Love Affair


Ever wonder how “The Love Affair” of cycling is seen through a “non-rider’s” eyes?  Today’s guest post by Vania Selvaggi just might be the most beautifully written cycling story ever written by a non-cyclist.

Earlier this month, I read an awesome “non-cycling” article online and liked it so much that I asked the writer if she’d consider writing a post for me.  She wasn’t a cyclist herself, and I was pleasantly surprised when she so easily agreed.  Below you will find all the goodness that flowed from Vania in response to my request.  Enjoy.

The Love Affair

by Vania Selvaggi

The bike showed up four years ago. After Ian unveiled it, I stalked it from various angles. “Wow,” I said. “It’s so cute.” Ian laughed. At me. So, I switched tactics – terminology. “I mean it’s cute in a powerful way. Slick, with that slanted writing and it’s cool. Black.” Ian laughed again so I kept digging. “The water bottle holder is convenient and the little pouchy-thingie beneath the seat…that’s something, eh?”

“I bought those. You add them on.”

“Oh? Still, neat-o. And get a load of those pedals. And the spokes, how only one is red and the rest are black. I like the tape on the handle bars too. I had a bike once. It was gold. From Canadian Tire.”

Ian nodded and began what I now refer to as the-race-Vania-will-never-win.

We stand poised, the wheels of our minds flush with the start line. The bell sounds and Ian’s off, slow at first with, ‘See this? It’s called a blah-blah-blah.’ His explanation grounds me, so he patiently repeats it before moving on to another feature, his words fast, his excitement pumping-up the pace. ‘This is called a blah, and it does blah and blah.’ I’m trying to rotate my wheels, but they’re stuck. He’s way ahead with ‘Watch what this does.’ I look, but my view is hazed through a blur of cycling jargon. Defeated, I mutter, ‘That’s nice dear.’

On that first day, Ian turned around and rode back. “I know, honey. It’s all new to you.”

“But I can learn.”

“It’s okay, Vania.”

And it was and still is. It’s enough for Ian to know that I appreciate his love for the sport of cycling. He loves riding. He loves feeling the wind in face, how the muscles in his legs burst with heated activity. He loves the excitement of planning his journeys, relishes the unique views offered from the hump of his seat. And I love that fact that Ian is so happy, and satisfied. Plus, I love the clothes.

His pants: full length or cropped but all manufactured with ‘breathe-able’ fabric and then there’s the spandex selection of shorts fitted with booty-protector-padding. His jerseys: day-glo yellows, greens and reds, with full-zippers and half-zippers in the front and back pockets, and the logos that message other riders. The plush socks: black or white mini’s that slip neatly into his socket-soled shoes and the helmet that cradles his head snuggly. The gloves: modern, leather variations on New Wave fashion that expose his finger tips and leave his palms free of calluses.

Every time I see him dressed for a ride, I want to say, ‘You look so adorable.’ But I stifle it because I’m certain this is exactly the opposite of what a rider wants to hear. Instead, I kiss him good-bye. “Please be careful and have a great time.”

And he does. While he’s on the road, Ian snaps pictures and e-mails me immediately. I often break from my writing to see where we’re at. Apart – yet together, we’ve visited Cherry Beach, and the board walk that flanks Lake Ontario. We stood at the edge of the Scarborough Bluffs. We’ve also felt the squeeze of corn stalks that wave in the wind alongside open country roads.

Last month, Ian and I moved to a smaller living space. The reduced square-footage dictated many trips to donations boxes and finally, when I invited our friend, Jaredene, to help plan the placement of our furniture into this space, it was me who had to explain to Ian that the bike needed to be stored in the building’s bike room.

“It’s a tight space, honey. We just don’t have room for your bike.” Ian’s face fell and I felt selfish. My two-thousand book collection took up most of the available real estate that should have been offered to his bike. I also felt hypocritical. I swore I would never become one of those women who banish ‘man-stuff’ to nether regions. The fact that this wasn’t some poster of a bikini clad girl with a beer can, but an item that Ian cherished, deepened my self-loathing. So, a minute later, I retracted. “You know what, Ian? We’ll make it work.”

Ian’s smile made everything alright again in my world. Still, where was the bike going to go?

“Okay,” Jaredene said. “We’ll put the bike on a stand in the hall next to the wall.”

“The hall?” I asked, because now all I could picture was student apartments where, out of necessity, the kids cluttered the entryway with bikes: mud encrusted wheels on carpet, bike frames warmed with thick coats of dust.

“Stop worrying, Vania,” Jaredene said. “We’ll treat it like an art installation. Look; the bike will sit there, and all around it, shadowing it’s every curve, will be photos of your family and Ian’s. It’ll look great.”

And it does. Above the bike hangs a framed, autographed photo of Lance Armstrong who is a mentor to Ian and branching out from the bike’s frame rests photographs of my family mixed together with his. It’s a symbolic wall of two people merging and has become my favorite spot in our new home, all because of the bike. And, while the bike and I still don’t speak the same language, some love affairs transcend words. For a writer to admit this – well, that’s huge.

Vania Selvaggi was born in Toronto. She is currently working on her first novel and will be graduating from the Creative Writing Certificate Program offered through University of Toronto, School of Continuing Education Studies in the spring of 2012.
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  • Lisa

    Cyclists ! Mmmmmmmmmmmmm lol
    first class Vania xxx

    • Vania

      Thanks for reading it Lisa!

  • adena

    Vania, what a great post, I’m only sorry Ian didn’t let me know you had written something so I could read it straight away.  I’m a huge fan of your writing.   
    Adena (the misunderstood aunt)

  • Patricia


    Great story! Reminds of all he fedex packages from european countries with strange names containing the latest bicycle doodad (whatever … I too can’t follow the bike lingo either). Buckle up or bandage it with a bungee cord  it’s going to be a long ride sweetie …. in my home it’s been going on for decades)…..wait until the guitars “coming home” ….


    • Vania Selvaggi

      Too funny Pat! Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  • Eric Hutchins

    Finally had a chance to read this. And loved it. Good stuff.

    • Vania Selvaggi

      Thanks for reading it, Eric!

  • Mark Beaconsfield

    What a wonderful story. I wish my wife was as understanding. I hope to read more of your stories from a non cyclists view. Or, if you do get on the bike, your experience of being a newcomer to the cycling world. Riding with someone you love is a great way to spend time together.

    • Vania Selvaggi

      Thanks Mark – for reading the pc. and I’m so glad you enjoyed it. I’m planning on going out this summer with Ian in hopes that it will become a regular way to share his love of cycling. I’m a bit nervous but feel so secure with him in the lead.  

  • Martin

    Yikes hardly space for just 1 bike?  I had 6 bikes in a 550 sqft apartment.    

    • Vania Selvaggi

      Yikes, 6 bikes in a 550 sqft. apartment? I think it’s great that you made it work and that clearly, you’re devoted to the sport! Happy trails…do they say that in cycling?

  • MG

    This is a lovely post, and interesting to see how you view the cycling! So glad you were able to meld the things that are dear to both of you- your books and Ian’s bike-  into your living space…

    • Vania Selvaggi

      I’m glad too…thanks for spending the time posting your comments. Much appreciated!

  • Brennanannie

    Absolutely awesome. Love it.

    • Vania Selvaggi

      Thanks for taking the time out to read it. Glad you enjoyed it!

  • Specialized Guy

    Wonderful! Your writing style flows as majestically as I’m sure Ian’s bike does! A brilliant piece. Thanks for sharing.

    • Vania Selvaggi

      Nice metaphor…thing is that Ian is definately better on the bike than i am with a pen…strange – it might have to do with his great positive attitude when it comes to climbing hills…;) – thanks for reading it!

  • Anonymous

    This is an awesome work of writing. Vania has a truly gifted way with expressing her thoughts and words. 

    • Vania Selvaggi

      I appreciate your words! Thanks so much for reading it.

  • Bethel

    Vania, I could marry you!! Not really, I’m already married, but it’s nice to let your husband’s Love be shared with his bike. If all women in the world thought like you do, it would be a much happier place to live. Loved reading it!!
    Bethel Strong

    • Vania Selvaggi

      Bethel – you made me laugh with your not-an-offer-offer! Thanks for the support. 

  • Joel Phillips

    I first read Vania’s award winning piece when Ian turned me on to it a couple weeks ago, this too is a wonderful story.  Vania thanks again for enriching my life.

    • Vania Selvaggi

      Joel! Thanks for reading it!

  • Darryl is Loving the Bike

    I’m so glad I was able to sweet talk you into writing this post for us, Vania.  Actually, it was way easier then I was expecting…hahahaha.  When I saw your article in Good News Toronto ( I just knew I had to contact you and ask.  I’d love to have you come back again in the near future so start thinking of another beautiful cycling story to share with us.  Thanks again, Vania.

    • Vania Selvaggi

      Love the sweet talk reference - gosh, as I recall, you barely got the question in! i felt so honoured to be asked. Thanks so much, Darryl!

  • Trina Haynes

    Another great piece that will touch your heart by Vania. no cycling, but its really good.

    • Darryl is Loving the Bike

      Hi Trina, that article you posted in your comments is the one that introduced me to Vania’s writing and was the reason for this post today.  Yes, that one is simply wonderful.  Thanks for checking “The Love Affair” out as well.

    • Vania Selvaggi

      Thank-you, Trina! Gosh – you’ll are making me blush!

    • Bob

      Trina, thanks for posting that link.

      Darryl, Thank You! for contacting Vania after reading that original piece.

      Vania, THANK YOU! For your incredible writing. I loved the story of settling into the new space and finding space for a focal point of Ian’s life. You *get* the cyclist in Ian and appreciate it.  (I wish….)  Your GNT story brought a tear. Your writing is amazing. Never stop.

      • Vania Selvaggi

        Thank-you so much, Bob…you’re very generous in praise.

  • Anonymous

    Love this piece SO MUCH!!  Love the story, love the picture, love her writing style (and I completely understand having bikes in the house…we have two in our bedroom….yes, bedroom….love how Ian’s looks like art).   
    So thankful this was shared today.  

    • Vania Selvaggi

      Amanda – so gracious in your comments! I’m so glad I was able to share. I have Darryl to thanks for the opportunity…!

  • Marty @twittyboyd

    This is absolutely beautiful!

    • Vania Selvaggi

      I’m so glad you enjoyed it! thanks for the feedback – means a lot!

  • James P.

    WOW! It is great to see and hear that a cyclists passion has touched a non-cyclist’s heart. Thank you for sharing such a beautiful view from the other side of the saddle.

    • Vania Selvaggi

      Thanks, James – I think the next move might be actually getting on the bike…maybe ? I’ll have to warn the motorists….! 


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