there’s a point in a long ride, and it nearly always comes when you’re the farthest from home, when your legs decide enough with this bike thing, we want to get off. but you can’t get off, because you’re way the hell out there and somehow you have to find your way home.
you think maybe food will help. you eat an energy bar and you forget it like it never happened. the sweet aftertaste lingers, the only clue that you’ve eaten anything at all.
you try to blow snot but you’re tired so it ends up all over your face. you figure there’s a reason most people wear gloves on bike rides. but you’re not as smart as they are, so you try to wipe your face on your hands but it just smears and now you’re an even bigger mess. next time, gloves.
before, you glided along gleefully, each pedalstroke blending smoothly into the next one, the pavement blurring beneath your wheels. now you feel like a hummingbird. it takes a thousand turns of the pedal to move an inch. the tree in the distance stays stubbornly in the distance. you’re pretty convinced you’re never going to get there.
and you start thinking about carbon and expensive bike parts and you wonder why the bike can’t just ride itself home. but there would be no challenge in that. the risk of riding too far, the need to peel yourself off the pavement and get there, it’s the part that makes you feel alive.
so you keep going, because what else are you going to do. a second energy bar goes down almost as fast as the first, but this time, you actually notice it. you’re still not exactly soaring, but you’re moving forward. and forward is good. the inches turn into feet and the feet turn into miles. you pass the tree in the distance and leave it behind.
and you think maybe you’ll make it home again.