I ducked out of work a little early to ride before the predicted hurricane. To ride the calm before the storm. To ride the calm before the holiday.
The skies threatened. Thick clouds. Sprinkles of rain — or perhaps perspiration — a promise of the weather to come. The air thick and humid. Deserted roads. I rode for an hour without being passed by a car. I rode in small gears, retrieving the pleasure of a slow day, little chainring, no rush. Only the coming night my deadline. Or perhaps the rain, if it were to come and relieve me of the heat and humidity.
I rode out and beyond the familiar routes, connecting past rides together through unknown roads, enervating the capillary network of hills, potholes, wild descents and quite intersections.
In the thick of the trees, it was nearly dark, my anemic and failing blinky lights the only signal of my existence. My dark jersey fading into the darkness. And I was wanting to fade, too. Disappear into the coming night and pedal on, anonymous and untroubled.
I rode the fatigue of Tuesday night’s fast ride out of my legs. I rode until my legs felt pure and young, feeling the affect of Sunday’s race and the easy gears. I rode until the bike disappeared beneath me. Long enough for all the random thoughts to rot and become ugly, and longer still for them to become clean and good again. At times, I was pleasantly alone, the only rider in the world and, at times, I no longer existed.
With an hour to go, I passed a liquor store and craved a cold beer. And I rode on, until my jersey was soaked through with sweat and my bottles empty. My shoulders were tired. My back was getting creaky. My stomach was hollow. I was ready for home but not willing to stop.
In the west, the sun finally dropped beneath the heavy ceiling of clouds and fired up the skies. I floated like a phantom through the quiet neighborhoods, lost in the shadows cast by street lights and headlamps.
It would be dark by the time I reached my doorstep.