It’s been about a month since I’ve last been on the bike; I can’t recall the last time I went for such a dry spell. The reasons don’t matter; life and work have been hectic, I moved, the bikes were just out of order and inaccessible enough to make it easy to find an excuse not to kit up and head out onto the roads. And, to be perfectly honest, I didn’t really want to ride.
It happens every so often, this strange desire not to ride. It’s different from the usual one where you don’t really want to go out on any particular day; this is has more to do with burnout than laziness. I’ve learned to wait it out; the desire always comes back, organically and strongly. And come back it did, although it did take a bit longer than I expected.
With coming back to the bike after a while off always looms a long shadow of dread. My legs are soft; I feel it in every step I take. Running up the stairs, my body doesn’t feel as springy and I know that springiness will translate to lethargy on the bike. Out on the bike, I labor with the gradient; the ease with which I once scaled the local climbs hangs in my memory like a dream whose details vanish the more you try to call them into focussed thought.
To prepare myself mentally for the first ride back, I did what every sensible person does: I poured myself a beer, tidied up the bike room, and set about meticulously cleaning my bikes in order to preemptively remove any opportunity for those being an excuse. The bike itself needs to be in perfect working order lest my mind should fixate on the slightest malfunction or noise and descend into a Millarcopter-inducing fit of rage.
Patience will be my mantra for the coming months, patience. I will not push myself too much, I will let the joy of the ride envelop me. Within a few weeks, a shadow of something resembling strength will take shape in my muscles, and it will spur me on to ride more. Eventually, the power will return and the memories of this drought will take their place in the catacombs of my mind.