Being away from the bike is agony. Even for the day, while I’m at work, my mind swims about, thinking about my next ride. I worry that I won’t be home early enough to get the ride in that I’d planned – or worse yet – ride at all. I agonize over my decision not to ride in the morning, or to work, hoping one missed day doesn’t turn into two doesn’t turn into a week.
I wonder at which bike I’ll choose; I can visualize them hanging there, in the workshop, quietly waiting to be set free from their prison – a bike is only free when it’s being ridden. I imagine they discuss among themselves which is entitled to be ridden next; they might even place wagers on which will be the lucky one. I’m not sure with what bicycles might place wagers, perhaps a bit of grease for a creaking quick-release that I haven’t noticed yet.
All day, I evaluate how my body feels. Sitting folded up at a desk is a horrible place to judge one’s weight; I’ll lean against the desk’s edge and wonder if there was less of me touching it yesterday. I’ll feel the muscles in my thighs as I cross my legs in a conference room, and judge whether they feel stronger than the day before. Sometimes I’ll feel for the fibers in my muscles with my fingertips and then realize that the other people in the room with me probably find it odd that I’m rubbing my legs absentmindedly. To be fair, I find it odd that they don’t know what it feels like to be in shape.
It is a mystery whether I’ll be strong on the bike today or not. At the office, there is no way to know how I will feel; I won’t really know until I put in a real effort, which usually happens on the first climb of the day. Strength is a strange thing; the other day I felt blocked during my warmup but hit the top corner of the first climb so fast I almost lost my front wheel. Almost losing your front wheel in a corner on a climb is a special feeling.
Tim Krabbé wrote, “Non-riders. The emptiness of those lives shocks me.” Indeed; we are Cyclists, the rest of the world merely rides a bike.