The first mild day of spring. The air smelt fresh and clean. The bike hummed, its stripped down simplicity offered no complications. One gear. One brake. No freewheel. One colour even, and that was simple chrome metal. Just the basics. Unlike most things in life, he understood it. He understood it on different levels; aesthetically, technically, emotionally. He understood how to ride it and he loved the way it made him feel. He liked the bucking and kicking of the track frame’s fierce geometry, the tautness and responsiveness outweighed its exuberant liveliness. The smooth rhythmical motion, on hills out of the saddle to keep the metronome going, swish swish swish went the tyres on the tarmac.
Although he’d ridden this route hundreds of times before, he never tired of it. Only about 30 miles or so, it had everything; swooping descents, stiff ascents, long drags, smooth roads, fast roads, bumpy lumpy roads which only get more so; quintessentially English countryside, chalk downland with rolling hills and folded valleys, vistas that open and which keep eyes transfixed and which refresh and cleanse. Howsoever he was in the zone, using his God-given body, making it work, away from the confines of a life he didn’t believe in anyway. His heart pounded and sweat stung his eyes as he climbed a hill, and in that moment, in that moment, nothing filled his head other than the joy, the thrill of it; nothing fed his soul more than the satisfaction of man and machine working as one.
Later, as he relaxed having showered, reality had tumbled back into his mind that he’d emptied of all else, muscles relaxed and his face glowed. Though his body buzzed from the afterglow, his mind was still battered and bruised from a tumultuous week which he looked back on with more than a tinge of rueful regret.
First published 14.9.2009