The madness of the lockdown was nervous, then scary, before isolation and routine became a new normal. Adapt and survive and wash your hands.
My saviour came from the love of the bicycle over this past spring and early summer. Actually cycling less because we were working more. Saddle time became more intense. Restricted time, meant the roads and trails were pre chosen, each turn and tree relished.
Solo spins were magical for a while. The feeling was stolen time. The rest of the planet was hiding behind episode 56 of some shite Netflix show, where you could easily miss 35 minutes and catch back up in one. While millions painted the other side of the garden fence no one ever seen, we were pedalling out and away to a peak, not from it. People said the birds got louder, we just listened more because there was nobody beside you.
And now it’s over. Lockdowns are lifting all over the planet, not because someone has found a vaccine but because governments can’t afford to let it continue. Loved people with faces and stories are still dying every day.
So the new world is one with clean hands and have to really concentrate overhear stories at the adjacent table. And I am ready for it. Ready for group spins when you can hide from the wind and feather the watts. Ready for being far enough from home in the saddle, that you are momentarily lost.
Most of all I’m ready for this premonition to be a reality. For a month I’ve been dreaming of a pub. I’ve never been to this pub and I’m not sure it exists, but it’s out West. I’m in the pub with my wet rain jacket dripping onto the floor, warming up beside the fire. My legs are dead from 8 hours riding with a tailwind to this place. Never lost, just following the sun. I’ve ordered a big bowl of soup and already eaten the bread before the soup has arrived. The bar man has just set down a pint. I’m staring at it as the bubbles settle on the inside and condense on the outside. I lift my hand from my cold, wet thigh and extend my fingers to grab the glass still 50cm from my hand. My palm moves slowly to the beer and my digits coil around the glass like a tired spring. Only my finger tips can feel the cool of the glass as my wet mitt is still on my hand. The other hand cups the base to stop it slipping and protect the contents on the journey to my open mouth.
I can taste the bitter joy.
I probably wake up licking a roll of sellotape, but my touring bike has a new bottom bracket and chain and the pannier has been packed since May 1st.
Are you ready?