Two or three pedal strokes, ass not yet set on saddle. The loud clicking of cleats into pedals. I like my road shoes tight, and the sound of the metal teeth clamping down is satisfying.
The sky is a bright smear against the gauze of low cloud, and I can feel the cold seep through my sleeves, the sort of cold that jolts you into action, makes you want to sprint for warmth.
Two or three pedal strokes from the top of the driveway out into the narrow road. I can smell fresh laundry on the breeze, the neighbor’s dryer billowing its perfumed steam, lolling lazily across their yard. I wonder what dryer sheets they use. I remember commercials with animatronic teddy bears, women folding towels, socks stuck to shirts. Are there deadly toxins in fabric softeners? Probably. I think to hold my breath, like I do riding through clouds of exhaust on my way to work.
I don’t know where I’m going. I had been sitting on the couch. Mid-morning. Restless. Tired.
I almost never leave for a ride after 9am. This one was born of that boredom, an irritable laziness, the sudden need to get up and out. I had to hurry, pulling on kit and pumping tires, before the urge left me. I thought to turn on my Garmin and leaf through old routes, but then got distracted by the dryer and the smell and the feeling of the cold on my skin.
I nearly turned back then, to get another layer, but resolved to ride myself warm. Must not re-enter the house, fall prey to its warmth, the gravity of responsibility.
My neighbor rides, too. Is he watching me from the wide front window, wondering why I didn’t text him an invite? It is shocking how seldom our schedules overlap favorably. He’s doing laundry. He can’t ride.
And then my head turns, away from the billowing cloud of scent, away from my house, up from my pedals, to face the road in front of me. I’m gone. I’m gone.