The riding has moved indoors for the majority of this month. The rollers are a welcome change from my trainer sessions of last season. Cycling has taken over the living room – I’ve set my LeMond up for Jen and we splurged on early birthday presents for her – new Sidi shoes, several saddles to try, a new stem, and some cycling specific clothing.
Riding rollers brings a certain meditation to my sessions. When not catching the rare movie or podcast, I’m listening to my body – thinking about perfect little circles spinning round and round – the pedals, the cranks, the chain rings, the chain, the derailleur jockeys, the cassette, and the wheels. The smaller is to the greater as the greater is to the whole – each part relating to the other – to propel me round and round on shiny cylinders of aluminum – never leaving the relative comfort of my living room.
My mind drifts to rides past – brevets that started near Boston and traced routes through the hills of the Berkshires and the southern Green Mountains, or one of my favorite nearby rides – the Double Gap – climbing Middlebury and returning via Appalachian. I also visualize myself steadily climbing mythic roads to nowhere – and taking in an imagined view from the top. Often I’ll drift to rides future – what it might feel like on this years brevets, what lies around the next bend, what is over the next ridge… feeling in my mind a bit like a kid again – when I would ride as fast and as far as I could – so long as I could get home before dark while never quite explaining to my folks just exactly how far I’d gone. In those days I rode an aluminum Raleigh that I bought a size too big for me (I didn’t want to outgrow the hard earned money I just spent), with 27″ wheels, wide tires, toe clips, and down tube shifters. Exploring the back roads of NE Ohio my friends and I would trace ever larger loops and routes. We carried minimal gear, wore white styrofoam helmets and street shoes, carried a basic patch kit and a real frame pump. For nutrition we foraged from mini marts and ice cream stands. On several occasions we called parents for a roadside rescue – most memorable was when a chain exploded as the bottom bracket on a friend’s Peugeot ceased to turn.
Randonneuring brings this same sense of discovery and energy to my cycling. New routes to try, riding with a group (although not always together) that often appreciates similar things, and many times getting just uncomfortable enough to bring back those feelings of the cold creeping in, the sun setting, and not making it to the control before my parents find out. The smaller is to the greater as the greater is to the whole – my pedals turn the cranks which move the chain and turn the wheels as the world rolls beneath me – and I explore the road around the next turn and over the next hill.