Tuesday, 10 February 2015

The ride

While trying to reach for my phone on the bedside table, my brain is still figuring out why the body is feels so rested and why we are still in bed, not being woken by an unpleasant alarm. Ah, rest day! My searching hand retreats back under the covers and I turn around to doze for another half an hour.

After getting up, a quick glance in the fridge tells me I'm almost out of food, so I grab my backpack and shoes and slowly make my way to the shops, less than 2km away. It's a beautiful sunny day, but the winter air is crisp and cold and I'm glad for the beanie I grabbed before locking the door.  

As I slowly walk back from the shops, baguette sticking out of the backpack (cliché, I know), I can't help feeling sad to waste such a good day by resting inside the house and not being active outside. The feeling gets worse over the course of the day and after watching a bad footage of Stage 2 of the Tour de Qatar without really thinking about what I'm doing, I pull on my bibs, take my shoes and strap on my helmet.

With the first pedal stroke I take a deep breath of crisp winter air and I'm feeling refreshed in an instant. I turn into my usual training roads, the ones I am accustomed to, but quickly make a u-turn. Today is not about training. Today is about riding. 

After a short while I discover a small bike-path that winds its way through the trees along the Loire, heading the direction of Nantes. The occasional crack of a branch or the rustle of a leaf when I ride over it is the only thing to be heard. Sun-rays gleaming through the leafless tall trees and onto the muddy path.

It's calm. It's quiet. The occasional elderly pair sitting on a bench, watching the stream of water float by. A few cyclists too. None of them like me though. None of them in Lycra. None of them on fancy bikes. Jeans, a thick winter jacket and a beanie. No haste. Slowly riding by. I feel out of place. Too fast, too equipped, too aero.

I take a quick glance at my Garmin. 187 watts. 120 bpm. 98 rpm. 28,6km/h... A quick flick of the wrist to the left and the Garmin is off. Safely stowed in my back pocket. No need for numbers and calculations today.

As I get closer to Nantes itself, the bike-path runs under a few bridges which connect my side of the Loire to the other one. No need to cross today, the grass is green enough on this side. A train crosses a bridge as I ride underneath it. My mom always believed it brought luck and fortune. I smile as I watch it disappear into the distance.

Under a very picturesque bridge I stop to take a photo. After I've taken a good shot I decide to leave the phone in the pocket too, resting next to the Garmin. It just seems better to see it with your eyes and soak the moment up while it lasts. Some moments are best not to be shared on various social medias. A photo doesn't do it justice. No sound of the traffic, birds and water, no smell of the fumes and rotten leaves, no feeling of the cold wind on your skin. Just a picture. I stay for another moment, watch as a jogger runs past, and turn around to head home.

Even though cycling is my job, I hardly ride to improve and get stronger. No, I ride because it is my passion and gives me that deep feeling of satisfaction. Sometimes I just need a day like this to remind me. 

Fine, I'll share the picture with you

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