Why I Ride
Yesterday was a boring day in lab. Boring days are the worst. I need deadlines, goals, and obligations to feel engaged. When I fail to come up with these self-motivators, I wallow in a pathetic state of vacuous nothingness. I switch between websites with mindless ease. Reddit weather reddit craigslist email reddit email reddit email blogs email email. Without goals, I am the human incarnation of entropy.
After hours of boredom and headache, I left lab yesterday and decided, despite the ominous gray clouds, to go riding. My helmet made my headache worse as I tempo’d down River road in the direction of clear skies. The clamp on my saddle came loose and allowed my seat to pivot between groin-crushingly uphill and bucking-bronco downhill.
The clouds held their rain as I pedaled hard to escape them. Cyclists develop a knack for judging distance and cheating rain. These were slow clouds and I knew I could get out from underneath them. The hills of Watchung were sunny and beckoning.
I dismount and remove the rear wheel to change the tube. On cue, the clouds dump their gray mass upon me. It’s one of those summer rainstorms that lasts 10 minutes but delivers raindrops the size of quarters. Everything gets wet as I work a wet tube into a wet, gritty tire inside a wet rear wheel.
It’s surprisingly cold when I remount and get moving. The front of my legs sting and my feet are anchored in sloshy buckets for shoes. I have to take my sunglasses off and let the world into my eyes. Bugs and rocks find my corneas with uncanny fervor. My saddle bends backwards when I hit a bump and forwards when I push down to straighten it.
An hour later I find myself pedaling hard for no reason. I have no training plan. I have no races to do this year. Pedaling hard just feels natural. I turn the watts in that zone that all good coaches tell cyclists to avoid. I am at 80% intensity. It’s the low-quality form of intensity that burns out newbies and gives nary the benefits of periodized, interval efforts.
I don’t care.
I melt the stress with frightening ease. My headache vanishes and I carelessly blow snot on my already filthy self (I have long given up on keeping appearances this day). The rain amplifies the scent of the plants, replacing the smell of summer asphalt with fragrant sweetness. A rooster tail chases my rear wheel and provides me with a personal raincloud, even though the rain has ceased.
When home, I bring the bike in the shower with me. Trails of black soot find their way down the drain. A day of idleness and small misfortune washes down with it. I sit down to dinner in front of my computer, sans headache. The choice for dinnertime entertainment comes too easily. Reddit weather reddit craigslist email reddit email reddit email blogs email email…