Something is wrong. In the universe? No, just me. I have stopped cycling. For a little bit. Which is a big thing for this serial overtrainer. Rest time. Not that my body is listening…
I fall asleep, my legs spinning. No wonder I’m always tired, I’m logging extra miles in my dreams. Yet Strava registers no such rides. Spinning in my sleep actually happens. True story. And yes, I’ve asked my girlfriend to monitor my cadence.
Work in the morning. Normally I commute by bike. Not today. My commute will be twice as long as usual. I jump on a packed London bus. Sardines. Who are these people? What is that smell? Some cyclists wear masks to commute yet nobody on the bus seems concerned by the toxic air.
I cover my nose and stare out of the window. Sunny. Typical. Cyclists float past the bus, filtering in and out of traffic. I’m amazed by the minuscule gaps between the cars the riders seemingly risk. Yet I too would do the same and, like the well trained daredevil, I too know the audience perceives a risk greater than the well versed performer.
Bus journey done I’m still a long way from my office. What next? Am I expected to walk? I’m not sure I remember how. My feet and legs are hurting by the time I arrive at the office.
I enter via the pedestrian reception, an upgrade from my usual ramp into an underground car park. The price to pay is sharing a lift. There’s that smell again. Other people.
Throughout the day people comment on how well I look. My shirt is ironed and my hair in place. No flies in teeth. He is one of us, they think.
I’m grouchy. I wake up about noon, body and mind missing the exercise that usually eases me into the world. I am a clock with one hand, I appear to be working yet all I do is confuse.
I wait for someone to walk to the water cooler and pounce, drafting them silently before bang, I out sprint them, water my reward. I smile but only briefly. My heart rate monitor tells me I didn’t work hard enough. Must do better.
I walk back to my desk at recovery pace, signalling obstacles on the floor as I go. Plug socket. Paperclip. Umbrella.
Home late after a tube delay, I’m sweatier than when I usually cycle home and yet I don’t shower as I would post-ride. Odd, these walking creatures.
Thumbs a’ twiddling I know not what to do with myself. I stare at the fridge and the food cupboard and wonder why I don’t have my head in one of them, fingers and gob full of food.
When night eventually falls I’m still awake. The unspent energy of the day waiting to turn the pedals in my sleep.
A ride free weekendI wake up. Ten thirty. Shouldn’t I be somewhere? Like 30 miles away in a random country lane dressed like a superhero? I get up and check my back for bananas. Nothing. The day stretches out ahead of me.
It’s raining outside. I smile. Inner joy comes when I see the strong winds too. No reason to feel guilty. The gods have decided thou shalt not ride.
I make coffee, unsure exactly how I’ll expend the extra energy I’m brewing. Better make it a small. Breakfast is enjoyable. No porridge to be seen. Bacon. Sausage. Eggs. Protein, I tell myself, recovery food.
Snotty, I put on my cycling glove and wipe my nose with the back of my hand. Soft, unlike my girlfriend’s shriek of horror. She hands me a tissue but I refuse on the grounds of not wanting to carry superfluous weight. Besides I have no pockets on my back.
I check Strava and do my best to ignore the activities of others. I scroll through my previous activities, yearning, a mother flipping through an old photobook, staring at the young children who have since flown the nest.
I check the TV schedules for cycling but alas there is none. I consume every blog and article and tweet relating to two wheels and yet still feel empty. I’ve purchased two new jerseys I didn’t need, upgraded my bottle cages and bought a bike tool I know I will never know how to use.
I’ve got cycling on my mind, a jilted lover with kisses to spare. I pass my bikes when I leave the house. The fragrance of oil, of rubber, of er, good times. I avert my eyes as I pass. Sorry, I mutter, as if I’m having an affair with walking. Upon my return I gently touch the bikes. Haven’t forgotten you, I whisper, promise.
I’ve got it bad, real bad. I’ll do anything cycling related. Except clean my bike that is.