I hate getting ready to ride. I grumble and hope for rain and dig out clothes and cuss when there are no clean water bottles. I hate my old pump and I am out of tubes. My gloves smell like a dead body. Somehow I mange to throw a leg over.
There is no way in or out of my hood with out a climb. It is a bitch at the beginning of a ride. Crawling up to the Thomasville Road light where the cars always pinch off the curb on the right turn. People come over the hill there at warp factor seven, running from the jobs they hate, rushing home to the television. I am a pissed off cyclist but at least I am not them. I hop up on the curb and then back down at the front of the right turn line. Stink eye from the lady with too much hairspray. I spot a little opening in traffic and in a supreme act of faith, drop onto Thomasville road and hammer towards Hermitage. I catch the light and lean into the great right corner with no traffic. You can hold all your speed going wide and stay around twenty five miles per hour, to the base of the hill. The missing twelve pounds in my jersey are the difference between now and the last time up this hill. I got dropped by my son here in a wheezing stagger, two months ago.
Over I-10 and into the safety of Kilearn Estates. Drink water. Trying to ignore the smell of food I can't eat. The A.J. decent is next. A van follows me into the the first sweeping left a little too close. I drop him. The scary corner is more blind than ever with fallen trees blocking the vision of potential cars coming up the hill. The climb up to Shamrock isn't bad. Drink water. I have a line from a song I can't stop repeating in my head: "but after a while, you realize, time flies...."
At the top I see a cyclist go by. I am still half way up the climb. I speed up involuntarily. By the time I get to the stop sign he is a half mile away. He doesn't know it, but we are racing now. He is a fake rabbit on a stick. By the church I am closer to him. He looks over his shoulder, as he starts the fast section. I get out of the saddle. On the fast climb, he is fifty yards away. By the bricks I am on top of him gasping, but I don't come around. I don't have to. It has been a very long time since anything like this has happened. I turn right on Bayshore and disappear.
A couple climbs and a I am dropping into Hermitage. No traffic. Forty two miles per hour at the base of the descent, I sit up and ease onto the sidewalk and back up the last hill to home.
The dog is happy to see me. I smell dinner. I want to write. I want to sing. I never thought I could feel this way again. Nothing in the future is written.