Waiting for the parts on the truck. Those last few bits you need to complete the machine. Maybe today will be the day. When is the normal drop off? Why has he not come yet with his scanner and his maudlin indifference? And Jesus wept, what if something is back-ordered and you have to ride the bike you’ve not been working on, because this shiny new thing will surely be ready before you have an aneurism if that truck doesn’t turn the bend and pull up short in front of the house. Is that the rumble of a diesel engine?
Waiting for your friends at the meet up. Watch checking. Convinced they’ve come and gone, or worse, they won’t show. Drinking a coffee you’ll curse when you’re bladder-full just as the pace turns to aggro. Sitting, leaning against your top tube in a parking lot, the civilians coming and going. Feeling like a fish out of water.
Waiting for your legs to come back. Not sure where they went, or even if they’ll be back. Maybe they met a girl and went to another party. Maybe they got hung up on a phone call. Moments full of heaviness and pain, or full of emptiness, a phone ringing and ringing and never being answered.
Waiting for your heart to stop thudding. Over the crest of a climb or just at that point where you can’t sprint any more, the bike wobbly beneath you. Or maybe in those quiet moments after you drop off the back of the rampaging group. Spent. Your friends swirling away up the road. Your vision narrowed, the pulsing high in your throat. To vomit or to cry? Perhaps to gather your breath, drop your shoulders and catch back on…
Waiting for the weather to pass, under a tree maybe or under the awning of a store you’ve never shopped in. Standing there all guilty, like you’re stealing something. Trying to convince yourself just to tough it out, doing the math on lightning strikes, wondering when you’ve ever been this cold.
Waiting for the next big race. To justify all the training you’ve got in your legs, the commitments to family and friends and work stretched to their breaking points as you tilt at a windmill that will never be killed. That they will never understand because they don’t understand anyway, this ghastly, painful, awkward thing you do instead of living a normal life.
Waiting for the next pro season. To inspire you with its breakaways, so many suicide streaks that end in the peloton’s cruel catches. Or make you wish for your own breathlessness as whisper thin climbers battle in slow-motion up an acute angle. The power and purity of that effort to purge all this talk of cheating and scheming and ruining that has turned the off-season into a Greek tragedy. Waiting for everything to get better.
Waiting to ride your bike.
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Picture © Neil Doshi