I’m eating mini toblerone and drinking scotch from a tiny bottle, I’ve been touched rather intimately and I’ve been sleeping next to someone I’d never met a few hours ago. Eating tiny food in smaller spaces whilst sweaty men snore next to me is generally something I don’t do out of choice and as of last week I’ve been avoiding sitting down at all costs.
Last Friday I got the go ahead from San Diego sports medicine to start riding again, I popped straight over to velo hangar where the Argon had been hibernating. Gordon restored it to it’sprecious beauty albeit with some adjustments to my aesthetic courtesy of bright orange cables. By Friday afternoon I’d got everything sorted and managed a couple of hours riding by the sea.
I miss riding my bike when I take a day off, I hate it when I take a week off. After 3 weeks and 6 days away my bike didn’t feel like my own, my pedals felt too far away and my saddle to thin. I wondered how I’d ever squeezed onto 38cm bars or ridden with my drops 20cm below my saddle. Despite this I enjoyed riding, being by the sea, feeling the wind in my (safely helmet covered) hair, sweating in a way which didn’t just make me feel like a smelly office worker and doing all of it fast!
This week has been a great return to everything I missed about bike riding, I love racing, I love competing but I enjoy the process as much as the result. I’m at my happiest when my nose is peeling slightly, when my legs hurt a little bit going upstairs, when I can eat 1000g of carbs a day and never go above 200, when I’m finding weird rubbish in the bike lane and I wake up every morning feeling like I haven’t eaten for a week even though I go to bed feeling so full that I couldn’t eat for a week.
It’s not just training that makes me happy. I hate not engaging with where I live, driving a car to the shop feels so sterile. I miss seeing the buff homeless man and the guy with the parrot and the specials at the Mexican ice lolly place and smelling the beer brewing and the coffee roasting (yes, I live near a lot of hipsters) . I like the convenience of nipping out on my bike for a beer or a few things for dinner or to see a friend. I like that I don’t need to look for parking, or worry about taking insulin for that beer. I try not to make any journey under 5 miles in a car and taking those short trips in air conditioned anonymity makes me feel almost as sad as not training did.
This week I’ve ridden to cafes every day and sat there with my friends. Some of them are younger than me, some more than twice my age. I’ve eaten muffins, continued the search for the perfect cappuccino (pannakin la jolla is leading the charge for southern California), received free welcome back cookies and even been part of a waterfight which nearly led to the first ever forceful eviction from coffee bean and tea leaf. I’ve had conversations about travel, relationships, food, beer, coffee, bikes, family and growing up (or trying to avoid doing so). The sort of conversations which only happen when both parties are mildly hypoglycaemic, hypoxic or otherwise mentally impaired. I suppose some people rely on something other than a bike to have deep conversations and justify consuming quite ungodly amounts of nutella at 11pm but bikes are my drug of choice.
Bike riding gives me little forays into other people’s worlds. Sometimes you pick up another rider and talk until you drop them on a hill or your routes diverge. I met a man this week who had a baby blue pegoretti, an enviable beard and a wife from Oxford, another who wanted my advice on wheels but ended up giving me his on graphic design, someone else who went to the DR on holiday and another guy who rode a surly cross bike and couldn’t believe I was diabetic, I couldn’t believe he spent 60 dollars on Brooks bar tape, but we all have things we can’t understand about other people.
Recently I’ve had some sub-optimal results and some pretty horrific crashes. If I didn’t enjoy the process It’s be hard to keep going but racing, and training make me happy in themselves, even riding my franken – townie bike to shops makes me happy.
Bikes are fun, always and I can’t ever imagine living without them I hope one day that more people share the joy I get from riding my bike and they too can enjoy the delights of midnight nutella and a peeling nose.