You’ve returned home from a winter bike ride and you’re pretty pleased with yourself. Clocking up mileage in mucky weather, you feel heroic. Yes, you are showing the early signs of hypothermia, and are currently struggling to form simple sentences, but miles are miles.
This ride will pay you back handsomely come spring.
It’s going dark, it’s cold, and you’re sodden, so you sling your bike in the garage and head indoors for a brew and a bit of TLC.
You strut into the kitchen like Odysseus returning victorious from the Trojan war – muscles aquiver, a salty sweat caked across your brow – and claim the spoils (a cup of tea and a hastily built cheese butty).
Your bike, alone in the dark, is dripping.
Were you not busily bathing in the glow of triumph you would realise you have a slim window of opportunity. You should, by rights, get back out into the cold night and show your trusty steed a bit of respect. You should wash it, wipe it, and grease it up like a carnival hog, preserving its precious parts for next time.
Instead you sit tight in your house, warm and cosy, and pretend it’ll drip-dry. That there was plenty of wet lube on the chain to keep it supple. And those mudguards do a great job of catching the grit and grime.
You are kidding yourself.
It sits there overnight, untouched, and the guilt begins to eat away. You know you should act but you just can’t be arsed; you heroically pedalled through the harsh northern landscape, the star of you own internal Rapha ad, and everyone knows that heroes have someone on hand to clean up after them.
But you are committing bike neglect, and you shall reap what you sow.
As the hours tick by you become angry and irrational. Wondering why you even bother riding the bloody thing if you have to spend more time maintaining it than pedalling it. Your feelings towards Zwift begin to soften a little. The surgical cleanliness of an indoor training session gaining appeal.
And still, the thought of your bike in the garage, slowly seizing up, gnaws at you. Forty-eight hours have passed by. Your Odyssean glow long gone.
You start to reason with yourself.
I was planning to take it all apart and service it anyway, you claim, to anyone within earshot, by leaving it like this have the perfect excuse…this is absolutely ideal. I shall leave it another day or two.
But your partner, kids, or maybe a pet of unusual intelligence, step in and give it the raised eyebrows; the ones that say you are not the take-it-apart-and-service-it type. Not for fun, anyway.
Fine, you huff, and pad over to the garage, wary, and poke your head around the door. A little look, that’s all. A peek. You leave the light off.
Even in the gloom you can see that your chain has taken on a rusty hue, each exposed part of your machine blanketed by a caked layer of grit and grime; you hold your breath, convinced you can hear the contents of your local roads eating away at the frame and it’s component parts.
It’s a depressing sight.
You grab the bike by the bars and rock it back and forth. It creaks and groans. It may be trying to communicate. It sounds sad.
There’s nothing else for it. You must roll up your sleeves and make things right. You can probably salvage the situation with elbow grease, washing up liquid, and a series of brushes and rags. It’s time to show up for your loyal companion.
In the aftermath, post ride, dozily post-coital, you had stumbled off into the house without a second thought. Your winter ride, alone in the garage, gazing across at your summer bike, all carbon rims and polished gleam, wondering where this leaves your relationship.
You have some making up to do. A proper polish, a liberal dose of lube, maybe some new bar tape as a treat. You might just get away with it this time. Next time, you might not be so lucky.