My lungs feel my favorite way my lungs can feel. Every breath I take tells me the whereabouts of each alveolus. They feel raw, like they were scraped clean and opened up anew after a period of dormancy. Every breath tells me their exact shape and depth, where my lungs end and where my diaphragm begins. I feel high, as though my freshly cleaned lungs are letting too much oxygen into the system and it’s not quite sure what to do with it other than to make everything feel more Awesome.
Cycling is, unequivocally, without question, a drug.
At my back lies a winter of frustration; my training has been behind all year with me neither having nor making the time to get the hours in that I am used to. I’ve never been a thoroughbred, but this winter I haven’t even been a donkey. I’ve been a mule. It feels good to say it out loud, actually.
“Hi, my name is Frank. I’m a mule.”
I’ve always favored the 2 hour ride over one, three hours over two, four over three. The best rides are sun-up to sun-down endeavors that have me crawling into the kitchen or pub for a recovery session. On one notable occasion I got off my bike and sat at the side of the road in the pouring rain, just to contemplate how I might manage to ride up the final steep ramp to get back home. (Spoiler alert: I finally arrived at the conclusion to climb aboard my bike and pedal up the hill, something that seems a lot more obvious in hindsight than it did at the time.)
I’ve become more opportunistic in my training since arriving at some basic condition through getting my head kicked in for nine days at Keepers Tour. Since then, I cherish those small windows in my schedule that allow for a quick ride and jump at the opportunity, even if it’s just for an hour. The shorter the ride, the harder the ride. No mercy. Stop lights? Interval to the next one, like some idiot Cycleway Hero. Climb? Hit it until the lights go out. False flat into the wind? 53×11 and out of the saddle until the legs turn into Jell-O.
Today’s ride was 90 minutes. Full gas, start to finish; I was a Cat 5 on Race Day, born again. If I was stopped at a light, it was a double-down sprint to make up for lost time like a dog let off its leash trying to catch up to where it would have been if it had been loose the whole time. Everything my mind asked for, my body gave. Everything my body needed, The V provided. Today was a reminder that if quantity and quality are on offer, take them both. But if you have to pick one, quality will go a long way to make up for quantity. I’d rather ride a little every day than not ride every day. And a short ride, done right, can put you in the box just the same.
In the immortal words of The Prophet, “Ride as much or as little, or as long or as short as you feel. But ride.”
Vive la Vie Velominatus.