Into The Tunnel
It requires a combination of factors to intersect. You need to have already spent loads of time on a bicycle. Enough so that you have an inherent sense of this odd thing with two wheels; you can make it go quickly or slowly, you can steer it around a corner with ease, you know how the introduction of a layer of moisture between the tires and the tarmac might affect the way it does these things.
There can’t be too clear a boundary between the bicycle and your body; those lines are best when blurred a bit. Hands to bars, feet to pedals, badonkadonk to saddle – these are contact points but they extend into the body to form a cohesive unit of rider and machine.
You need to know the difference between being out of shape, overweight, under-fed or hydrated, or simply being tired; these things have different implications and you must know how to manage them. You need to have met the Man with the Hammer enough times that you can feel him standing alongside you some time before his hammer hits. You need to know which actions bring him near, and you need to know which actions may stave him off.
These are all things that must be learned through many years spent in the saddle and cannot be gleaned from a book; this is a path you must walk yourself.
It also needs to be a long day out on the bike. Long enough that you’re tired with some distance yet to go; past the halfway point in the ride, but not so close to the end that you distract yourself with thoughts of finishing. There can only be the moment, nothing more. The legs need to be heavy from hours of effort but still strong. The pressure in the chest firm as the rhythm of your breathing is contant but not overly labored. The heart has to be pumping hard but not on its limit.
You have to be on the right kind of road to support a sustained, constant effort. Not too twisty, not too undulating. Not too scenic as scenery tends to be a distraction. Perhaps it is misty, humid. The air through which you ride wraps around you like a blanket.
You don’t have to be particularly strong that day, or fast, or in particularly good shape; you just need the right amounts of the right elements. As the legs start to go round, they draw you into a kind of hypnosis. The sight of the front wheel guiding you in the bottom of your periphery adds to the effect. Slowly, your senses turn inward, like falling asleep except that with every turn of the pedals, your focus grows more intense. You see everything and you see nothing. You see the road and you see obstacles, but acknowledgement of these things is reserved for critical items only. Only those things that require attention will be given it; the rest is reserved for turning the pedals.
The blanket you wrapped yourself in gets pulled up over your head, over your ears, nearly to your eyes. Darkness is everywhere except directly in front of you, the tunnel guiding you along. You hear nothing but the whirring of your tires, perhaps the changing of gear. The Man with the Hammer wanders close; you feel him. But La Volupte has graced you as well and she distracts him to stave off his hammer for a bit longer.
His killer blow will come, but not yet.