I used to be a contender. I could have taken that KOM. I was quicker goddammit and now look at me. Pathetic.
Slow with a tailwind, the merest incline induces a series of huffing and puffing and effing and blinding. Strava automatically marks my rides as private as a sign of a respect to my former self. Inner chimp has become inner chump. Yep, I’m most definitely outta shape.
Empty legs, head and heart. The unthinkable has happened. I’ve fallen out of love with cycling. Say what now? Surely not? The urge long lost, denial initially fuelled more riding. Perhaps I’ll just blast through it, I thought, kidding nobody. This lasted for two months before THAT ride.
Who is the creature who returns home exhausted, depleted? Dry salt caking face, heavy black rings lacing eyes, more aches and pains in legs than your average nursing home. This is the cyclist who has ridden too far, too high. Bitten off more than they can chew. The route too big for their legs.
The conversation between head and body when you’ve been cycling too much.
Head to body: I’m up for this, let’s have it!
Body to head: I’m not so sure, I’m a little achy. We cycled three big days back to back this week.
Head: That’s true but I feel great, come on, stop your whining and let’s get out there. Rule 5 yeah?
Body: Rule 5? How old are you? I thought you were the wise one?
The suffering is over. Many hard miles logged, metres climbed. You’re so tired you’re unsure of your own name. After a hard ride there’s only one thing on your mind. It’s not stretching. Or active recovery, or even your ‘nutrition strategy’ otherwise known as eating. No. Get me off this bike, you think. Now.
You’re off the bike. For once your precious is far from your thoughts. You’ve abandoned it somewhere, you’re not sure where, you don’t care. Feet on the ground, the earth seems to move, a sailor returning to land after months at sea. Only it’s your legs that are quaking, quivering under the load. You fumble with your door keys like a drunk after a big night out.
Legs dead, they hurt climbing stairs. Pain strikes when standing from a seated position. Time for rest. I’ve been commuting every week and cycling every weekend since November. My legs have given up.
Mentally I’m shot too with 9-5 (more like 8-6 of late) office life taking its wretched toll. Colleagues have been talking at me for weeks now and I’ve somehow satisfied their needs by pretending to understand what the hell they are yakking on about. My incomprehensible grunts seem to answer their questions. Sleeping badly, every inch of me needs rest.