This was the last weekend of a 4 week training block, and I was resolved to make it count. Never mind the heavy sensations in my legs, never mind the lethargy... this was going to be a killer weekend to close out a killer month.
And so it was.
On Saturday morning, I set out Northwards with CaptainChaz, whose routes are invariably the stuff of legend. Faux pas though it may be, I'll quote myself:
"I suppose you could think of him as the mutant offspring of a mountain bike and a GPS system. Or of a Sherpa and a pickup truck. It is as easy to picture Charlie living as Magellan in a past life as it is to picture him as the Marquis de Sade."
Saturday's ride to Bernardsville wasn't particularly long, nor was it particularly steep. It wasn't leg-breaking, like some routes that leave you gasping halfway up each climb and hoping for some merciful trucker to put you out of your misery. Instead, it was sapping, sucking the life out of you slowly so that the exhaustion sneaks up on you.
It didn't help that Charlie is a strong rider. Oof. Also, we climbed through a ditch 6' deep to bypass a road closure. Wish I'd pulled out the camera. Oh well! Bygones!
The nice thing about riding in the hills is the reward that follows each climb. You look out to the horizon and see a lake, or a small town, or the next ridge, hazy in the distance. It's absolutely beautiful, especially this time of year and on a clear day like Saturday. And then you get to descend, which is especially fun when you go "WHEEEE!" or make motorcycle noises.
As long as I'm quoting things somewhat unnecessarily, I'll refer to Need For The Bike (tip of the hat to Will for the loan). M Fournel writes,
Contrary to what happens when I'm in a car and the landscape allows itself to be seen and not 'be', on a bike I'm sitting in it.
With the bike there's an animal relation with the world: the mountains you see are there to be scaled, the valleys are for cruising down into, shadows are for hiding in and stretching out. To be in the landscape, in its heat, its rain, its wind, is to see it with different eyes; it's to impregnate oneself with it in an instinctive and profound way. The mountain rising before me isn't a mountain, it's first a grade to climb, a test, a doubt, sometimes anxiety. At the summit, it's a conquest, lightness. I've taken it and it's in me.
Yeah. He gets it.
On Sunday, the plan was to fight through the accumulated fatigue for a few hours. A bunch of hours. After a long warm up behind the perennially fast Todd, I rode - hard - to Princeton, then returned via Dogjump. It's one of my favorite rides, scenic and fast and suitable to any season.
Even with a quick espresso/cookie stop at Small World in Princeton, I ran myself ragged. Doing laundry this evening - the laundry room is 200m away, so I take 4 loads at once - my legs gave out before my back, which never happens. Stick a fork in me, I'm done.
Which brings me back to the title of this post. The recovering hipsters among you may recognize it as a Belle and Sebastian song (I say recovering, because true hipsters would have expunged all memories of Belle and Sebastian or any other band once they were no longer "in"). One verse strikes me as particularly poignant:
Boy on the bike
What are you like
As you cycle 'round the town?
You're going up,
You're going down,
You're going nowhere.
It's not as if they're paying you,
It's not as if it's fun,
At least not anymore.
When your legs are black and blue
It's time to take a break
When your legs are black and blue
It's time to take a holiday.
I disagree with one line: it is absolutely still fun. Other than that, though, it's spot-on. It is time to take a holiday.
Hooray for recovery weeks!