When I get fast, I’m outta here. I realized this just today. When I get fast there won’t be any reason to write these words, to talk about bikes, to look for ways to get faster or to talk about pros who are fast. When I get fast, I’m done.
Not one time fast, mind you. I’ve been fast on single days in certain ways, fleeting, teasing ways, ways that left me leg-heavy after. Nothing permanent. When I get permanently fast, I’m done.
Or if I get free. Once I escape into that wild blue beyond that we only ever glimpse from the saddle, then I’m cashing my chips. Or actually, forget the chips. I won’t need them.
Yes, yes, yes, riding gives you that feeling of freedom, but then you stop pedaling and it disappears, a dragonfly that lands on your forearm and then darts off. Once I get really free, from responsibility, from gravity, from the bonds of self, then I’m off. Remember me fondly. I wasn’t the best, nor the worst of us.
Also, when I’ve solved all the problems of humans competing against each other with bicycles, then I will locate my deck chair and sail off into the mists of leisure, a destinationless cruise. I have ideas for how to get there, but most of them depend on the better natures of those who would vie for the prizes, and I have found (perhaps your results vary) that mostly when the prizes get big enough, the natures of those who vie for them get compromised in mostly irredeemable ways. Like a ticket for a destinationless cruise, I suppose.
Cycling holds out all these hopes that many of us have spent a lifetime chasing down, like a break we didn’t see go though we remain sure they’re just up the road, maybe around this next bend or over the next rise. We chase and chase and chase, and I do it on the bike, and I do it on this blog, and I do it in my head while other people are talking to me about things that aren’t that chase. My eyes have gone vacant and a little narrow. I am half-smiling and nodding in that small way that says, “Go on. I am listening.”
But it’s a ruse.
I am trying to get fast and free, to work out all the problems. I am on the front and working as hard as I can, turning the pedals over and over, relaxing my grip on the bar, canting my head forward ever so slightly to shade my eyes and relieve the tension in my neck. Staying alert.
And when I can’t pull anymore, I peel off the front and let Padraig pull, because, though I never think it’s possible given the hours in each day, he somehow manages to be working harder than me on all these things, and together we’re definitely going to blow this thing apart. Count on it.
And when we do, when we are fast, we’ll be gone, and there won’t be anything else to ride for. It will happen. Any minute now, or never. I’m sure of it. Just hold the wheel, and we’ll take you there.
Follow me on Twitter @thebicyclerobot.
Image: © Matt O’Keefe