Sometimes, tragically, it’s not possible to go for a bike ride.
Perhaps work commitments are getting in the way. Maybe you have a daft, home working office job? Unable to risk the plinky-plinky ring of an unplanned video-call catching you away from your home desk, you are expected to be Zoom-ready at the drop of a hat.
Or you have a real, practical job, and would be actual, 3D missed should you sneak home mid-afternoon for a rendezvous with the ol’ push iron?
Alternatively, work isn’t an issue but you are inconveniently smack bang in the middle of the “coldest winter since records began,” as cold winters are relentlessly described, and you are considering relocating to Siberia for its slightly more favourable riding conditions.
Perhaps you are struggling with one of those persistent respiratory conditions so common to cyclists who just cannot resist riding in the cold, wind and rain. Too busy relishing the boost to your hard man/woman credentials, Instagramming your wintery adventures like an arctic narcissist whilst barely noticing the cultivation of a deep-rooted chest complaint. You will still be coughing and spluttering come April.
C’mon man…Covid times is really not the moment to mess around with this stuff.
Could it be you accidentally found yourself in your forties, married with kids, and grappling desperately with the unbounded joy of raising children whilst watching your performance on the bike drop off the proverbial cliff due to an ill-defined buffet of rolling commitments and a simple lack of hours in the day.*
(*This example is purely hypothetical, illustrative, and in no way related to a real person either living or dead.)
The fact is that many of us cyclists are somewhere between slightly, and disproportionately obsessed with our current fitness levels, possible future fitness levels, and past fitness levels, which may or may not now be physiologically attainable but are definitely practically out of reach.
In short, the thought of becoming unfit, the pain and suffering involved in a diligent regaining of fitness, and the merest hint of early onset love handles from too many pies and not enough miles is too much to contemplate. And as if the mental anguish of being denied the simple pleasure of a bike ride wasn’t enough, science has to get involved too.
Endorphins have gone mainstream.
When I was young I‘d never heard of endorphins, and frankly I didn’t miss ‘em. I’m fairly sure that they weren’t invented until the late 90’s. I can’t imagine people in the 70’s and 80’s running around rattling on about endorphins. They were too busy cultivating massive facial hair and worrying about what Russia was up to.**
(**Which, on the face of it, is actually a very 2021 vibe…)
Once you know endorphins are a thing, and recognise them for the mood enhancing morphine shot that they are…BOOM! You go a few days without a (proper, outdoor) bike ride, you understand the chemical effect of this, and BLAM! You’re grumpy. You understand a thing, diagnose a thing, give a thing a name, and it ruins your life.
Also, unfortunately, a very 2021 vibe.
Roll on spring, summer, and long bike rides in the sun. Endorphins. UV rays. Clear, healthy lungs with a bottomless appetite for oxygen. And not even a suggestion of love handles.