A jerk of shoulders, a pinch of brakes and a fresh sense of wind down your back—disaster averted yet again. Why do we ride so tight? But then, there’s no need to ask. From physics to camaraderie, we know the answer. If we rode spaced out like trees in an orchard, the speed wouldn’t whoosh, the magic would never happen, the friendships would never form.
There’s danger in the peloton. Done wrong you wind up on the ground, in a ditch—hell—the back of an ambulance. But without that risk, that equally shared burden, there’s no intimacy, no true knowledge. And we get to know each other, don’t we? The pedal stroke, the tilt of hips, the flick of the elbow in the shift, bob of head, we can tell friends by the faintest trace of motion.
And while no one rider can rule a peloton for long, we know when someone’s absent. The dynamic changes. That missing pull at the front, the laughs at the back, the gap closed without a word, there are those riders, those moments so expected, so typical of the day, that we sometimes we only understand the value through that cliché—in their absence.