I always feel the race most when I'm out alone (off the front or back--take your pick) or trying to hang onto some savage's wheel in a break and--this is the key part--I'm bent over as far as I can and I'm looking down at my front wheel and not really watching the road, but it's there for me to see if I just look. It's mostly quiet enough to hear the noise of my breathing, not the freehubs and drivechains, and the breathing of the fatasses of the peleton.
The old pictures of Merckx on his inevitable break always show him in his drops, his back horizontal with his forearms, and his body like a backwards 7.
Don't get me wrong, it's not anything profound happening here. I'm not at one with anything, nor am I experiencing an epiphany of pain. I'm just feeling the race and feeling the air pressure in front of me, and I'm usually going as fast as I can muster.
I know I should keep my head up, but I also want to keep it down, keep it out of the wind.
But the feeling...bent in half at the waist like a stepped-on beer can WHILE pushing with your legs like mad. One part still and contorted, the other energetic and frantic.
I'm not saying I'm good at it like Merckx was. I'm just saying it's a moment where I'm feeling I'm good at it.