It’s odd I bitch for the whole year about its arrival, but without fail something about this time of year triggers my riding gland into some final end of year spurt of activity.
Tuesday’s deluge was shrugged off into a 90 minute trail/following a river’s slippery wet, mud, thrutch through pools of murky light (Does anyone elses think that lights don’t seem to throw so far in the rain?) wheels careering in to blind dips made by your 8 million lumen light, as your guaranteed impeneratrable waterproof barrier slowly fills with water with the same certanity as the Titanic had on i’s last faithful day.
Reaching the top of the climb for the second time I stop to gather breath. Grit runs from eyes and drips off my nose; a combination of sweat, rain and probably something from the back end of a sheep, and I feel elated. Smug? Yes. Superior? Yes. Not of nature, of course, but of other people at home, or of the other me that sometimes bails because the house is warm and to leave the electric womb would be too uncomfortable, cutting the umbilical cord of internet and TV, for something however briefly that is gritty visceral the outside world. Of course I know it’s not ‘real’ in the senes of a hunter gatherer or even most people’s working life a century ago, the fact making yourself uncomfortable has become a sport says a lot more about our pysches than what’s going on for our bodies in the whole process.
Saturday saw a very traditonal ‘Death by Hills’ in a very 90s way, for some reason the nearest bike that I had that made sense to ride that kind of ride in the valley was my 69’er singlespeed, so I spent 3-4 hours bent double over the bars trying to argue with Newton and clearly failing. Cold air hurt my lungs and the strange taste of blood at the back of my throat suggested that perhaps I was overdoing it a bit. My lower back, a whining old man of 90 that likes the lumbar pad in the car wound all the way out threatened an even longer rebellion if I keep treating it like that… Sometime later, Gluwhine inhaled at the pub before the classic ‘staring at the opposite wall of the shower’ for an hour, scrunching my toes back into life as the hot water thawed me. My little act of civil disobedience against my whiny self complete, made the post shower snooze so much better.
By the way, why is it that all of this navel-gazing of riding happens in retrospect? It never happens when I’m out. Either the panting of my breath and the steady drum of my heart sets me into some kind of deep trance, or I’m trying so hard to get the bike to bend to my will as I slither towards the edge, there’s never time to think.
…and maybe that’s why I love it.