It’s a plod, at best.
Cadence is low.
Mind flitting from thought to thought, a-wandering, a depressed butterfly for whom no flower is quite right. One of maybe four perfect weather days we’ll get all year and I’m having one of the off-est off days since records began.
Following my nose, no set route, this could go either way.
Scenario A sees me forty miles into Cumbria a slice of the famous rarebit from Wilf’s café and a tailwind home. Sated and satisfied, worked out, and in favourable calorie deficit. Scenario B is a twenty-mile loop, usual roads, nothing to see here, get on with your day.
Then he appears, from behind, at pace.
The very vision of positivity pedalling hard on a camo Cipollini Bond, matching bar tape and saddle, green and Fluro Ale kit, fancy Fi:zik shoes, offering his wheel with a: “jump on if you like, lad!”
“Oh great, I think,” rolling my weary eyes, “there goes my solitude.”
I jump on all the same.
It’s the done thing.
After beating myself with a mental stick for five miles I’ve found my carrot. Or rather my carrot has found me. A tanned, camouflaged carrot, with a perky cadence and a tempting slipstream.
I’ve a got a reason to ride; a wheel in the foreground and a rarebit in the distance. Mojo located I warm to the task. We nip through temporary traffic lights, beating the queues, and weave past the plodders with an “ow do” and a feeling of healthy superiority.
I take my turns on the front – I’m faster than he thought I was – and a bond is formed in the sharing of workload and gauging of effort. We make small talk. My legs are loose and my engine is warm.
“You going far?” I ask.
“Hundred plus,” he replies, “you?”
He peels off left, I peel off right, the world, my oyster.