“Are you coming on the ride tomorrow?”
“Um...no...?” was the most I could manage.
“You should come,” Brett continued, “I’ll make sure nothing happens to you.”
Though the invitation was appreciated, I couldn’t imagine going up to Piermont on my track bike, especially given the nearly two months that I’ve been off the bike. Flat road, I’ve discovered, is hard enough with my total lack of stamina. Riding at the “easy” pace of 20mph with a few roadies and a particular cyclist who likes to slam the hammer down and keep it that way on the Wednesday Rapha Ride is the last thing I am currently capable of. I mean, it would be awesome if I could do it...but if yesterday’s quick spin was any indication, I have absolutely nada in my legs.
like because we’re talking about riding a bicycle, the feelings were familiar. The sticky, oily feeling on my face, arms, and legs. The bits of dirt and sand stuck to any uncovered inch of epidermis. That wrung-out feeling in my legs, and the hunger that wasn’t there until it was, in full force, and I would have stuffed anything I could get my hands on into my mouth. But like getting on a bike after too much time away, it was also kind of weird and slightly uncomfortable. I had envisioned that my first post-bar ride would be relaxingly long. Slow, but cathartic. The mental image of turning the pedals was part of my August fantasy of awesome things I was going to do after the bar.
And in this personal fantasy, sweat and exhaustion were involved, but not the pain or the huffing or puffing. With a gusty tailwind up the West Side Highway, the fantasy seemed to be playing out as it had for the past two months in my head. Mike kept it slow and easy on his silver, red, and blue Cyfac, dressed in Rapha black, white, and pink and matching my bike more than his own; but still, reality set in a bit as I hauled ass to keep it at a measly 16mph. Which is something I should have expected, but you know how fantasies go: weakness and lack of fitness never quite make their way into them.
Reality really hit me in the face when I turned around at the GWB. The wind was definitely not feeling me. It wasn’t even like the whole “sorry I’m not feeling you right now, peace out,” but more like “I’m not feeling you right now AND I’M GOING TO SABOTAGE YOUR EVERY EFFORTS.” My legs felt heavy and fairly useless. All of a sudden I was parched and nauseously hungry - that one banana before my ride apparently wasn’t a sufficient breakfast. The humidity that hadn’t been a problem, suddenly was. My fantasy went the way of Andy Schleck’s rear derailleur.
But maybe that’s the way fantasies should go, anyway. The hard at times, assisted by a tailwind at others, facing a decent headwind and consciously struggling some of the time ride felt like it should. And though physically straining, it felt good to be back on the bike, the discomfort slightly reassuring in its familiarity.
Even if I felt like a marshmallow on a tricycle.