You ever sit up at night running through memories?
That time at Greenbelt when it was a bajillion degrees, and you silently committed to attack the living bejesus out of yourself, Rugg-style. Thing is, you weren't alone in this commitment. Rugg was there, attacking self-style, and suddenly everyone else was in on the madness, and what unwound was a series of 1,000 watt sprints to catch or lose wheels, in between which you poured water down your throat and had no idea that the year was 2010, or that you were as pink as a ham, or that sort of stuff. You had no idea about anything. You just were a raging primate hardly capable of manipulating symbols to express yourself. Somehow a training race with twenty five starters became a slugfest of eight. For once you found the right wheel, Brownie's wheel, and endured the overwhelming smell of his Brut for the sake of what in your mind was training race glory, fifth place or something.
The time you went on a solo break and the field sat up so you were off the front for a while. You settled in, wondering how in God's name you would keep this pace up for ten miles, but then you heard the announcer calling your name, and two people cheering you on, and you looked back and saw nothing behind you. It was only an office park, but you were Cancellara at that moment. You were Bruce Lee taking on the entire island of men in pajamas, kicking them all in the face, one by one.
The time you were in the mountains, peaks you could not see from the valleys. On the climbs you had time to hear the wind in the pines and look across an entire state, and you climbed so high you entered an entirely different weather zone and clouds surrounded you, and then you emerged into a new cold and bare sunlight, and you could not believe how cold it had gotten, and you were climbing still. The road turned to gravel, and no cars dared the ruts and washouts, and you were glad for it. Then you finally came to the top, and there was nothing for you to do but head down, descending for ten minutes straight from cold into warmth, into a small village where you stopped for coffee and croissants and the beautiful woman at the counter smiled at you, because you must have been grinning like a fool, probably with flies plastered to your teeth.
You did things like this hundreds of times, with your own legs and lungs.
And you thought of the poor folks who struggled to get from cars to their door, to their motorized scooters. The kids on their game consoles, and the thousands of indoor hours on stationary trainers. Haiti and Malawi, where no one has the time, spare calories, nor greed to ride up mountains or race. China, where the air is thick with soot and mercenary zeal. The millions of victims, the old, and the afflicted. The dead, even the greats, like Fignon, stuck underground.
We are not among them.
Spring is here and most of us can ride. What more could we want?