I walk into and empty house from my Poly-Sci class. I got a hundred on my mid term. A piece of cake is on the counter from my brothers birthday party the previous evening. He's sixty two, and still looks young for his age, but weathered as well. A reminder the clock is ticking. All that sand used to be rock up river. In three minutes, I could have a cup of tea and bury a fork in that cake. I put on my kit. I fill the Camelback. I mount the light on my helmet. I roll out.
I am having a weird year. I missed almost all the night rides. I have to admit, it makes me mad that I can't get in the miles as easily as before. Would I like to be yucking it up with the boys on a nice leisurely crew ride? Bet your ass. I am getting to Tom Brown at 7:30, it's too late to make it out to the Cadillac. TB is harder, especially in the dark, but it's closer, so I turn right, and climb. I have to save my light for the time trial on Blairestone, to keep the angry sardines from rolling me out like pie dough, to save two minutes ride time home, from the jobs they hate.
The boys are rollin easy, looking at their Garmin's to keep their heart rate down. They are stoked for the race this weekend in Georgia. I can't go. They are enjoying the taper before the race. One of life's little known treasures. I am looking at my watch, knowing that by now they are doing the recap on Worm's tail gate. I am eating gnats that can't wait to dive into my beam, my eyes, my mouth. They come at me in amorphous clouds of swirling, dotted, smoke.
8:05P.M. I am in the big ring. My tail light is blinking. My headlight flashes red to let me know I am almost out of battery. My hands are by the stem and I am trying to stay with the speeding traffic. A cop gives me a thumbs up, by the light of his lap top, as he slides by. I can't go any harder. They drift away through the light, which turns red as I roll up. I cough, and cough. A lady looks at me from her car, and turns away when our eyes meet.
An old feeling awakes. Ride no matter what. An hour as hard as you can go, is better than a piece of cake. I roll into the garage and the lights are out. I smell no dinner. Mama is tired. She just got back from soccer and a hard day trying to help people finance houses. No one has it easy lately. Not her, not the buyers, not the sellers, not the agents. It's very hard out there. I see my bike in the beam. I hear a click. This could be the start of something good.